Having sick kids is NOT a normal part of life. It is common, yes, but not normal. We are led to believe that because a child’s immune system is not fully developed until at least age 6, they should be sick often. And we are told that every sickness they have makes their immune system stronger. So how come the kids that are always sick grow up to always be sick as teenagers and adults?!
Since changing our family’s dietary habits and lifestyle many years ago, I am amazed at how scarce sickness is in our home. While I once was part of the many parents finding their kids sick constantly through the winter and many times throughout the year, I can now count on one hand the amount of times our family gets sick in a few years!
Before we could get healthy, we first had to get rid of the many myths about our children being sick!
Myth: Frequent illnesses in childhood make their immune system stronger.
Truth: While occasional exposure to illness does stimulate a child’s immune function, overloading the system with constant illness does nothing but weaken a child’s immunity and ability to fight things off. Do we honestly think that indigenous tribes without hospitals had to have their children sick all of the time in order for them to be healthy adults?!!
Furthermore, frequent illnesses in childhood can indicate a higher risk for cancer. And at least 2/3 of all other chronic illnesses. A weakened immune system that cannot fight off a simple cold will most definitely not be able to fight off invading cancer cells or environmental allergens.
Myth: Germs are the cause of childhood illnesses
Truth: “The germ is nothing; the terrain is everything.” At the end of his life, Louis Pasteur realized that it was not the germ/bacteria that was the problem–it was the host for which that germ/bacteria invaded. If a person’s immune system is strong, they are able to fight off invading pathogens. A weak immune system and an unhealthy body is a perfect host for dangerous germs and bacteria.
Many children today are very often recurrently sick with ear infections, allergies, asthma and then, later in life, may develop autoimmune illnesses such as lupus, ulcerative colitis and rheumatoid arthritis. This is not because children just naturally pass around germs or have bad genes, but it is because their diets are inadequate. Antibiotics cannot prevent these problems. Only a diet of nutritional excellence can.
~Dr. Joel Fuhrman
Once we addressed these myths, we were able to move onto making some changes. Here are the ways our family avoids being constantly sick:
This is the #1 key to a healthy immune system. Here’s why: A study found that consumption of sugar reduced immune function for up to 5 hours after consumption. And the reduction of immune function was dose dependent, meaning more sugar equals a larger suppression of immune function.
So if a child consumes sugar at every meal (which is the case in at least 98% of American children’s diets because sugar is added to just about everything), their immune system is almost not even functioning at all.
Eliminating refined sugar has made one of the biggest differences in our family’s health, and it will in yours! Read all ingredients’ labels on the food your family eats and avoid anything listing sugar, evaporated cane juice, brown sugar, powdered sugar, etc. For more information, check out the information on how to do this in my No-Sugar Challenge.
The medical field often overlooks the most important part of our immune system: the gastrointestinal system, aka the gut. 70% of our immune system health lies in this overlooked part of our body, and much of the medical treatment we have today only damages it. (See below regarding antibiotics and vaccines destroying the gut.)
A healthy gut should be about 85% healthy “good” bacteria and 15% bad bacteria. Unfortunately, that ratio is virtually the exact opposite in most people today. This is for many reasons, including antibiotics, sugar, vaccines, chlorine, etc. (For more information on how our gut health is responsible for such a large part of our health, read my first post, part 1, of gut health here. And to read about the things that destroy our gut health and how they do that, read my second series of my gut health posts, Gut Destroyers, here. )
Probiotics, or foods/drinks/supplements containing healthy live bacteria help increase the good bacteria, thereby reducing the bad bacteria, thus strengthening the immune system. There are many different ways to get probiotics. Here is Part 3 of my series on gut health explaining probiotics and fermented foods.
Of course, a healthy diet is important to reduce risk of constant illness, but these are two of the dietary changes that will make the biggest difference.
As we briefly discussed above, vaccinations actually reduce immune health in many ways, one by destroying gut health. In our family, we didn’t stop vaccinating until child #4. We can see a clear difference in the children’s immune health for those who received vaccines vs. those who didn’t, as well as those who we used to give medications for and those we didn’t. (See below for more on that.) For more information on vaccines, you can read my post ‘To Vaccinate or Not: A Physical AND Spiritual Decision’ here.
Avoiding Medicines and Other Medical Intervention
Like vaccines, injecting or giving our children’s bodies chemicals will never help them become healthy. Period. It will only cause their body to have to raise its defenses and work even harder to fight off foreign pathogens, which actually weakens them. Here are some of the drugs (prescription and over-the-counter) that are used in common childhood illnesses which actually make them sicker in the long run:
As described in my post about Gut Destroyers, antibiotics are infamous for destroying good gut bacteria, which you’ll remember is where 70% of our immune system lies. Like sugar, antibiotics are one of the most detrimental things to our children’s immune health. And they are being used way too often in America. So much so that doctors in other countries condemn American doctors for handing it out like candy for every little cold and flu that children get. Every time the doctor prescribes your child antibiotics for ear infections, colds, flus, and even things like strep throat and bronchitis, it is a giant step in the wrong direction. It may help temporarily, but it predisposes the child to even more problems in the future.
Check out my post The Creator’s Natural Antibiotics for some alternatives!
Reducing a fever is another very big and detrimental mistake parents (and doctors) make in their children’s health. Did you know that it takes a fever of 102 degrees F. in order for the body to send out the troops (the white blood cells)? When we prevent the body from doing that, we weaken their immune system and their ability to fight off infections. In fact, over time, consistently reducing a fever actually increases a person’s risk of cancer.
Instead of treating the fever, we must recognize it as part of God’s great design of our bodies to heal itself. For more information on fevers, read my post ‘Fever: What Every Parent Needs To Know About God’s Design’ here.
Avoiding medical intervention for everyday illnesses helps our family avoid the bombardment of prescription drugs thrown at us that only mask or temporarily relieve symptoms but do not address the underlying cause. In fact, it is shown that more medical intervention does nothing to reduce illness:
In related news, a recent study by the Cochrane Library3, the gold standard for independent medical reviews, found that:
“General health checks did not reduce morbidity or mortality, neither overall nor for cardiovascular or cancer causes, although the number of new diagnoses was increased. Important harmful outcomes, such as the number of follow-up diagnostic procedures or short term psychological effects, were often not studied or reported and many trials had methodological problems. With the large number of participants and deaths included, the long follow-up periods used, and considering that cardiovascular and cancer mortality were not reduced, general health checks are unlikely to be beneficial.”
This may sound shocking to many, as general health checks are typically considered to be part and parcel of early disease detection and prevention. However, after reviewing the health outcomes of nearly 183,000 people, the researchers found that, in terms of making you live longer, getting regular health check-ups doesn’t appear to make a difference…
From Dr. Mercola: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/11/25/excessive-screening-tests.aspx
We can see that having a diagnosis does not reduce mortality rates and also exposes patients to dangerous intervention. For example, X-rays and CT scans pose increased risk of cancer from exposure to radiation; drugs alter the natural chemical processes of our body and lead to worse side effects; mercury fillings from dentists lead to multiple chronic health problems, stupid advice from doctors to do things like quit breastfeeding when mom’s sick, to put baby on acid reflux drugs, to give baby sugary drinks when they are underweight, and on and on. Avoiding regular doctor’s visits has actually really helped keep us healthy! It seems the less we go to the doctor, the less we NEED to go to the doctor!
It wasn’t until humans began gathering in larger populations that contagious diseases had the opportunity to spread to epidemic proportions. The emergence of epidemic diseases closely follows the rise of crowded cities.
Past plagues and outbreaks spread like wildfire in crowded cities. Even today, outbreaks of things like measles, meningitis, and whooping cough all tend to happen in schools and daycares. Because let’s face it–crowding hundreds of children in a single building for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, is just unnatural. Not to mention the junk that these children are fed in school cafeterias which just contribute to the problem more.
Additionally, public/private schools and daycares are filled with vaccinated children. When a child receives a vaccine for a live virus, such as influenza, measles, rubella, chickenpox, and rotavirus, their body is carrying around that disease for days and even up to weeks after receiving the vaccine, which can infect other children with that disease. This is called vaccine shedding and explains why outbreaks often happen at places where children spend a lot of time around other children after being vaccinated. For more information on vaccine shedding, go here: http://insidevaccines.com/wordpress/2008/02/24/secondary-transmission-%EF%BB%BFthe-short-and-sweet-about-live-virus-vaccine-shedding/.
Homeschooling is another reason why our family has experienced such great health. Not only do we avoid the crowded petri dish-type environment of brick-and-mortar schools and daycares, but we are completely in control of the food that goes into their bodies too! It’s not about avoiding all sickness; it’s about not unnaturally overloading and bombarding our children’s bodies.
I’m pretty sure most of us know the amazing health benefits of breastmilk. But just to be sure, let me give you a quick rundown. Did you know that breastfeeding can even help prevent many of the diseases for which vaccines are given? For instance, the inventor of the Polio vaccine, Jonas Salk, discovered in his research that breastmilk neutralizes polio infection! It was found in other research to protect against meningitis, Hib, measles, whooping cough, and even cancer! For more on that topic, check out this awesome article: http://www.vaccineriskawareness.com/Disease-Killing-Properties-Of-Breast-Milk
Not only is breastmilk extremely health-promoting (while formula is very much health-destroying–did you know it contains refined sugar?! and vegetable oils?! which weaken the immune system and cause inflammation), there are other things about breastmilk that makes it keep our babies and toddlers strong. For instance, skin-to-skin contact stimulates the body’s immune cells! And whenever mom is exposed to an illness, her body develops immune cells for that illness that she passes on to baby in her breastmilk! How cool is God’s design?!!
And why stop breastfeeding when they are babies? Their immune system needs all the help it can get until at least age 2! (For more information on extended breastfeeding, read my post ‘What Exactly Is Extended Breastfeeding, And How Long Is Too Long?!’ here.)
I can see a direct correlation in immune system strength and overall health in my five children according to the length they were breastfed. My fifth child is 2 1/2 years old and still breastfeeds multiple times each day. Unlike most toddlers, he does not walk around with a constant runny nose and has been sick about 3 times in his lifetime. And he was a preemie baby! That’s the power of breastmilk!
While not all of these options are available to everyone, they are the things that have made a major change in our family’s health. I definitely do not miss all of the inconveniences and difficulties that came with our children being sick all of the time! And I am grateful that our good health has allowed us to have more time and energy for serving God!
So which of these changes can you begin making in your family to help strengthen their bodies and their spirits?!
For more information, here are some great reads:
Are Antibiotics Necessary for Strep Throat? A great article on defeating strep throat once and for all from the Healthy Home Economist: http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/are-antibiotics-necessary-for-strep-throat/
Cod liver oil reduces children’s upper respiratory infections
Beyond Antibiotics–A complete overview of the overuse of antibiotics and the implications and health problems of its overuse by Dr. Lawrence Wilson
Consequences of excessive antibiotic use, including the inefficacy of using it to treat ear infections
Why Our Children Are So Sick by Janet Levatin, MD, Holistic Pediatrician, a brief post about the role vaccines play in increasing childhood health problems.
Why Are Kids So Sick Today? One of my all-time favorite articles on the topic–simple, concise, and to-the-point. Highly recommended.
Too Little Vitamin D May Mean More Colds & Flu:
Researchers found that those with less than 10 nanograms of vitamin D per milliliter of blood, considered low, were nearly 40 percent more likely to have had a respiratory infection than those with vitamin D levels of 30 ng or higher. http://health.usnews.com/health-news/managing-your-healthcare/infectious-diseases/articles/2009/02/23/too-little-vitamin-d-may-mean-more-colds-and-flu
Blessings of good health,