When we eat a variety of healthy foods, we are also eating a variety of healing foods. The list below contains real foods that are scientifically proven to prevent illness and stay healthy. What you feed your kids can really make a difference in how often AND how severely they get sick.
Phytonutrients are immune-boosting substances only found in fruits and vegetables. Phyton is the Greek word for plant, so photonutrients are what gives fruits and veggies their rich color. Phytos help your body fight germs and they prevent wear and tear on your cells and organs, and help the body repair itself.
Here are 5 ways to prepare your family for flu season by getting in plenty of "phytomins" into your daily diet:
1. Teach kids about phytos. Become Phyto-Mom and Phyto-Dad. Your kids will get more excited about eating these colorful foods IF they first know why they are so good for them. Dr. Sears, a renowned pediatrician for over 30 years, explains it to kids like this. "Germs are like tiny bugs that are so small you can't even see them. Germs are what make you sick. They get inside your body and cause colds and earaches and many other kinds of sickness - even tooth decay! You can do things to keep germs out of your body. You wash your hands before eating and after going to the bathroom. You stay away from kids with colds (and, if you have a cold, you cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough to keep from spreading germs to your friends). Yet no matter how careful you are to keep germs out of your body, some are going to get in. So, it's important to have a strong army inside you to fight these germs.
"The germ fighting army inside you is called your immune system. The soldiers in this army can actually chase down germs and gobble them up. If your army is strong, it will catch the germs and beat them up, but if it is tired and weak, the germs might win - and, in that case, you will get sick. Your immune system army needs the good stuff in fruits, veggies, and other healthy foods to stay strong."
2. Eat a variety of foods - Different foods contain different phytos, which have different functions in the body. Some help the eyes and skin, while others are antioxidants that protect rapidly growing cells from becoming cancerous. The list is endless.
3. Eat phytos as close as possible to their natural state - Most raw fruits and veggies have more phytos when consumed raw, but tomatoes, for example, is an exception. When tomatoes are cooked, they release more phytos, including lycopene. If you do cook, be sure to lightly steam them as boiling in water for a long time can destroy many of their nutrients.
4. Choose deep colors and strong flavors - Think tomatoes, blueberries, red grapes, Brussels sprouts, chili peppers, garlic, onions, and curry. These are all great sources of phytos.
5. Feed your family fish and flax - These foods are good for your immune system and your nervous system. The nutrients in fish and flax help injured tissues repair themselves and fight inflammation.