With record numbers of flu cases being reported across Australia, I’m zooming in and taking a closer look at just WHY some kids (and adults) get sick and why others don’t?    Hint: it’s much more than having the antibodies or drinking green smoothies…

Before I get into this though, a quick update on when I mentioned my hubby and I were fighting off colds/flu.  Our symptoms lasted a day or so. We ended up experiencing only slight congestion and a bit of a tickle in the throat.  Our immunity was strong enough to keep it at bay. Our daughter (14) then showed similar symptoms with nothing eventuating.   I gave our son (12) a day off school to rest and he was at school the next day. I share this not to boast, but to demonstrate how food, lifestyle and some supplements are powerful immune boosters and are a great first choice to getting well quickly.   

Supporting the body, naturally and gently avoiding disruption to the microbiome or cellular health ensures we can get back into the game with enduring peak performance.

I’ll be sharing the steps I use and the ‘how to’, in my upcoming webinar, ‘Why kids get sick’.  Details and how to join me here.

I’m also sharing the link to download my ebook again, ‘Why kids get sick’.  It’s jam-packed full of great information and the protocols I use with our family, including recipes and remedies to help you and your team stay strong and get better quicker.

Why do kids get sick?

You’ve probably noticed that in your family one or two of you get sick while others don’t?

It’s not that they haven’t been exposed to the bug(s).  They have.

It’s their immunity!   No surprises…

But what makes for a strong immunity?  

It’s more than being exposed to that particular bug and developing antibodies.  

A strong immune system functions well both innately (generally) and adaptively (with exposure).  It is the key to providing a good defence against pathogenic organisms and maintaining vitality and well-being.   And it starts with Mum….

Very briefly it’s our bodies system (a network of cells, proteins and organs) protecting us from foreign substances, toxins and infections.  It is the function or the dis-function of this system that determines the strength of our immunity. And that functionality changes with time and with what our bodies are exposed to.

I worked with a families’ 2-year-old who was diagnosed by the specialist with ‘low immune function’.   

A diagnosis like this made the mother assume it was a life long condition!  But when we started supporting the Childs’ immune system and within only one season, it had strengthened, avoiding the hospital and doctors visits that’d become a far too familiar and regular event.

So how does ‘low immune function’ come about?   

HOW the immune system develops in the early years is a key factor.   

How immunity develops.

At birth a baby’s immune system (as with all its organs and systems) is immature and even more immature while being carried in the womb.  

It evolves with a life of exposure to multiple foreign challenges throughout infancy, childhood, adolescence and into adulthood.

The immune system isn’t fully developed until after the first few years of life.  

Creating a strong immune system in our babies, children and supporting it in our elderly is vital.  And it can be very simple to do.

It starts with Mum.

Without placing more responsibility on us Mums, there are 3 things that happen;

1.  As a baby’s immunity is so immature, mothers have the incredible ability to transfer their immunity onto their baby (passive immunity).  For example, antibodies are passed from mother to baby through the placenta.  This helps give the baby some protection when they are born, lasting a few months after birth and making them less vulnerable to illness.  Mother Nature’s genius at work. However, the type and amount of antibodies passed onto the baby depends on the mother’s own level of immunity at the time.

2.  During birth, bacteria from the mother’s vagina are passed to the baby, helping build a colony of bacteria in the babies gut (creating their microbiome) and helping children’s immunity evolve.

3.  After birth, more antibodies are passed on to the baby in colostrum and in breast milk.  But babies’ immune systems remain quite immature.

Babies produce their own antibodies every time they are exposed to a virus or germ, but it takes time for this immunity to fully develop.  

Our health as Mothers when we have children directly affects the health / immunity of our babies.  Which is another great reason to keep mothers well nourished and strong through preconception, pregnancy and beyond.   

Personally, our children were both caesareans – not ideal for building strong immunity or gut health, yet they both have strong immunities.

I believe this because;

So even if your childs’ immunity is low, it can be strengthened.  But you need to start now. Don’t wait until they get sick again or show the first sniffle.  It starts now, so their bodies can extinguish that bug as soon as they’re exposed to it.

The earlier you start the easier, quicker and better it is.  And, importantly, avoid time off work, school and the worry of having sick kids.

What to do and where to start?

1.  With good food.

Under nutrition decreases immune defences, making an individual more susceptible to infection”.   https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23688939

Plus this from PubMed,  “Micronutrient deficiencies (i.e. vitamins and minerals) impair immune function”.   The best source of these nutrients is from the food we eat – a good diet is key, especially for babies (breastfeeding mums) and toddlers.

2.  But I know it’s not always easy especially with fussy eaters in the house! (FYI one of my superpowers is getting kids enjoying a wider variety of nutrient rich foods).  OR perhaps they eat well but their immunity is still low. There are many good reasons this could be the case.  A discussion I’ll be going into more detail in my upcoming workshop/webinar, ‘Why kids get sick’ on the 3rd of July.

3.  In the meantime to strengthen your families’ immunity;  

This is a simplified overview of how this complex system develops in the early years.  There are many other factors that affect the strength of our immunity which I outline in my ebook.   However, even if your child’s immunity is low, it can be strengthened ensuring they have the healthy, active childhood they’re entitled to and later, a vital, energetic adolescence taking them into a long, healthy and happy adulthood.

I hope you join me at my webinar ‘Why kids get sick’ for lots more information and strategies to keep your family thriving.





Even a single course of antibiotics permanently changes the landscape of our micro biome i.e. our good flora…

 …Microbiome being the term given to the precious microorganisms living symbiotically with us as human beings.  A relationship that is CRITICAL for a strong, healthy immune system and our optimum wellbeing. 

Have you got an ailment you’re finding hard to fix or weight you just can’t budge no matter what you do or an autoimmune condition that’s appeared or parasitic or fungal infections depleting you?  There may be a common link.

It has been argued that these conditions could ALL in someway be linked to an imbalanced microbiome, and ultimately perhaps back to a gut that has over the years been impacted by medications and / or antibiotics.  

After having antibiotics it’s critical to start repopulating the good bugs asap, helping to safeguard against opportunistic, pathogenic bacteria taking up residence in the vulnerable digestive tract.  

Here’s a simplified 3 step process; 

1.  Feed. 

Feed the good bugs that still remain and encourage them to multiply with prebiotics i.e. food for the probiotic (good bugs) e.g. raw, preferably organic, vegetables and fruits, psyllium, garlic, onion.  Ideally directly from the source or the veggie patch, with a healthy dose of living microbes (probiotics) right there in your home environment perfectly adapted to your microbiome.  Dandelion (weed) is an especially good prebiotic!  Don’t spray or pull it out, save a patch for your green smoothie or salad!

This insoluble fiber provides food for good bacteria while giving it a structure upon which to multiply.  How to add these foods in;

Other wonderful prebiotics are dandelion greens, cabbage, leeks, garlic, onion, ginger, artichoke.  If you have a baby, green smoothies are not necessary, keep reading for more ideas.  Listen to your body, watch your children and check what foods work best for your family.

2.  Weed.

Avoid all processed sugars & highly refined / processed foods. Processed sugar & foods feed more of the “bad” bacteria (including the pathogen you are trying to destroy with the antibiotic).   Rather build the population of good bugs with healthy food and weed out (starve) the pathogenic bugs.

Processed foods, including highly refined breakfast cereals and the ‘healthier’ variety of sugars such as agave, brown rice syrup, fruit juice, etc.  should be avoided (weeded out).  Even varieties of fruit with higher sugar content e.g. banana’s should be limited during this time e.g. a week or so.  Fruit lower in sugar such as berries or apples stewed or grated are a great alternative sweetener.   Also try using xylitol or stevia.

3.  Seed.

Or repopulate.  Add in fermented foods, home grown herbs and veggies and/or Probiotics to help repopulate the gut with good bacteria.

Probiotics are foods or supplements that contain beneficial bacteria.

Go to home grown food, fermented foods first that are high in good bacteria, enzymes and nutrients.  Easy fermented food recipes to try include; milk kefir, a basic kimchi,a simple sauerkraut or a fermented turmeric tonicor fermented garlic honey– if you haven’t already, give one or all of them a go!Fermented Foods and/or Probiotics.

But note, probiotics are not all equal. Avoid flavoured,  commercial yogurt with sugar added.  It will do as much harm to our gut flora than good.  The probiotic brands we use include;

There are SO many different strains of bacteria that we need it’s important to ‘mix it up’ and not rely on any one for an extended period of time.

Most importantly enjoy vegetables from the garden, including the microscopic bacteria that come along for the ride.

Feed.  Weed.  Seed.

Other steps to add in and support the process. 

4.  Bone stock and gelatin can help the body heal and restore the mucosal lining in our digestive system (which can be damaged during antibiotic use, damaging lifestyle choices or poor diet).

Bone stock already contains gelatin, so if consuming homemade stock you will not necessarily need to supplement your diet with other forms of gelatin.

5. A minimal amount of screen time and LOTS of playing outside.  Many of our good bacteria thrive on our bodies movement and exercise.  Even if the weather isn’t conducive, get the family outside, experiencing the elements and all the goodness the great outdoors offer us.

6.  Essential Oils.  Essential oils have the ‘intelligence’ to recognise pathogenic bugs from the beneficial bugs within us, just as they do for the plant, when in nature.  They’ve become a fundamental part of our home.  If you’re interested in learning more contact me on kate@katebarnes.com.au or check out details for my next class and webinar, ‘Natures Medicine Cabinet with Essential Oils’. 

While these are steps to rebuild after having to use antibiotics they are equally applicable to use to help build a strong microbiome and overall wellbeing.  

Then get all the information you need for kids to thrive this Winter at my workshop ‘No more sick kids’!  next Tuesday 9th of April.  A LIVE & ONLINE workshop. (Includes my popular ebook, ‘Strong immunity & healthy tummies – natural remedies for kids to thrive’).

Or purchase the ebook in my shop!

First published Aug 17, 2015 6:59 am

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