Up and down temperatures and sniffling neighbors can only mean one thing: cold and flu season is still in full swing. You already know to wash your hands religiously and get enough sleep, but did you know that what you eat can protect you too?
Incorporate these seven cold-fighting foods into your next grocery list to bolster your family’s immune systems — so you can stay healthy all year long.
Cooking the same chicken cutlets night after night? Consider adding the other white meat to your dinner rotation. Not only is pork tenderloin as low in fat as chicken breast, but it’s also high in the mineral zinc, which, according to the National Institutes of Health, aids your body’s cold-fighting ability. “The body uses zinc to activate infection-fighting cells,” explains Marisa Moore, a registered dietitian and national spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. As a result, she says, kids and adults who don’t get enough of the nutrient are more susceptible to cold and flu viruses.
If you’re shopping for foods rich in vitamin C, you probably bag a few oranges. But strawberries actually contain even more of this powerful antioxidant than citrus fruits: Just eight berries provide as much of the nutrient as the USDA recommends per day. “Vitamin C has been shown to strengthen your body’s resistance to illness,” says Moore. Other top C sources: guava and tomatoes.
The next time you pick up your family’s favorite puffs or flakes, make sure they’re fortified with vitamin D. According to a recent study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, children who got 1,200 IU of vitamin D daily were 40 percent less likely to catch the flu than those who didn’t. Researchers said the nutrient may help white blood cells destroy viruses and bacteria. For an even bigger D boost, pair that cereal with vitamin-D-enriched low-fat milk.
This hearty nut is full of selenium, a mineral shown by researchers at The University of Edinburgh to be crucial to optimal immune response. “Selenium acts as an antioxidant in the body, which protects against the free-radical damage that wears down your system,” says Moore. Got a nut allergy in your family? Stock up on other sources, such as salmon, turkey and chunk light tuna.
According to research published in the journal Advances in Therapy, this white bulb keeps more than vampires away — it helps keep colds at bay! “The active compound in garlic, allicin, has been shown to have virus-fighting properties,” says Moore. To make the pungent veggie more family-friendly, mince and add to dishes like soup, stir-fries and pasta sauce for a quick hit.
This creamy snack is packed with probiotics, the body-friendly bacteria. Not only do probiotics assist in digestion, but research shows that they also have a serious immune-boosting effect: One study from the University of California, Davis, found that people who ate 1 cup of yogurt daily had higher levels of gamma interferon — a substance that helps immune cells fight off viruses — after a month. Look for brands that contain “live, active cultures.”
Moms love broccoli because it’s packed with nutrients and vitamins — including vitamin C and zinc. Now they can add “fend off runny noses” to the veggie’s list of healthy benefits. Broccoli and other cruciferous veggies — such as cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale and cauliflower — contain an antioxidant called glutathione, which researchers at the department of immunology and cell biology at the University of Heidelberg, Germany, proved to bolster immunity. Are your kids not fans? Try steaming the veggie and chopping it finely, then mixing it into casseroles, rice pilafs and mac ’n’ cheese dishes.
The term “cyberbully” usually applies to minors bullying other minors online. But did you know that plenty of adults too are tormented by online harassers? It can be a frightening, unnerving experience, but if it happens to you or someone close to you, you don’t have to ignore it.
Here is exactly what to do if you’ve been targeted.
Cyberbullying Tip No. 1: Learn your rights.
Many states have laws protecting you from cybercrimes. Check out the National Conference of State Legislatures site to find out what qualifies as cyberstalking, cyberbullying and cyberharassment, and whether your state has laws that specifically address these offenses. Even if you’re not ready to report the activity to the authorities, knowing your legal rights prepares you to understand when someone crosses the line.
Cyberbullying Tip No. 2: Ask for it to stop.
Make it clear to the bully that you want the behavior to stop immediately. If your child is being bullied, help him send the message. Don’t detail your reasons, because you risk getting roped into yet another conversation with the bully. Simply demand that it end and state that you want no more contact in the future. If the contact continues, don’t respond. If necessary, change your user names and profiles in the places (e.g., instant messengers) where the harassment occurs.
Cyberbullying Tip No. 3: Keep records.
Don’t delete any of the harassing communications, no matter how offensive. Save emails, chat logs and text messages in a file on your desktop — and back up copies to a cloud service like Google Docs. If the situation worsens and you need to alert the authorities, this evidence will be crucial in backing up your claims.
Cyberbullying Tip No. 4: Report the abuse.
Forward offensive emails to the harasser’s school and Internet service provider, and ask that they be investigated. If the cyberbullying is happening at work, notify a supervisor or your human resources representative immediately. And if the problem escalates and you feel that you or your family members are unsafe — or that your legal rights have been violated — file a report with your local law enforcement.
Cyberbullying Tip No. 5: Get support.
Ask for help. Such organizations as CyberAngels can provide detailed, one-on-one guidance in dealing with cyberbullies and remind you that you’re not alone. Other organizations, such as the National Crime Prevention Council , offer tips as well — especially for parents and teens.
More info on keeping kids safe online from our sponsor
I didn’t know much about looking after a baby or raising a child when I was lucky enough to become pregnant with my son. As an only child with extended family spread far across the West, I didn’t come in contact with these little creatures previously. But once on the baby path there were many experiences that helped build the feeling that I’d soon be a parent – and all that entails: the first heartbeat and ultrasound picture, the first overwhelming visit to the local baby superstore (yikes!), prenatal baby-care classes, the first time seeing newborn clothes….so small!! Not to mention the joy when I finally held my son – or the panicky feeling when they let us take him home.
And of course I read the books. I knew what he would need daily or hourly – how to feed, care for and protect him. But nothing really brought home the full weight of parental responsibility until a couple of weeks back at work when I got THE CALL. Daycare. A staff member had fed my son someone else’s breast milk. I can still picture where I was, holding the phone – even though it was now over 8 years ago. My first thoughts: “Hmmm…this one isn’t in the book. What do I say? What do I do? Can’t HIV be transmitted through breast milk? But how likely is that?” There are some concerns about transmission – HIV, illicit or prescription drugs, etc. But the risk was probably very low based on the limited amount of milk (one bottle) that he got. Nevertheless, my husband and I quickly ended up in the daycare centre director’s office, discussing an issue that had already been elevated to the lawyers and risk management staff at the centre’s corporate head office.
We were informed that there had already been implications for the staff member, although thankfully she had not been fired. She was actually great with the babies and I wasn’t going to call for her head, though I was glad she had been moved to work with older kids. We couldn’t learn much about the other mother, due to reasons of privacy, but we were told that she had struggled for years to have her baby, undergoing multiple rounds of IVF – which gave some comfort that she probably hadn’t been doing anything that would put her child (or mine) at risk.
We walked away that day thinking…“We really need to think this through”…to look at the long-term possibilities. We were responsible for him – not just his current reality – but the unknown future ahead of him. He couldn’t make the decisions here, but he’s the one who would be affected in the long-term if the unlikely occurred. WOW…we’re parents! This little creature depends on us – not just for basic daily needs, but for his safety, growth, development, and happiness. So we had to determine a course of action, for his sake.
I contacted our pediatrician and a baby doctor in the neighborhood. I also got the perspective of another daycare center. Everyone reassured me of the low risk of any negative effects, which helped me and my husband sleep better and probably would have been sufficient if it were only our interests at stake, but it wasn’t….this was for our child. In the end, we decided to ask the other mother to undergo testing for the major concerns – facilitated and paid for by the daycare – just to be sure. We got the results quickly and reviewed them with our pediatrician: everything was fine and we were now satisfied. There was probably more we could have done, but the thing was we did more than we normally would have if we were just looking out for ourselves.
There’ve been a few more challenging experiences since then: injuries requiring trips to the ER and issues that caused us to change schools. None were life threatening or altering, though all of them tested me as a parent and made me feel the weight of that responsibility…but, still, none sticks with me like that first one.
What about you?? What was your “wow – I really am a parent” moment?
No mom wants her child to feel miserable — and the common cold can really wipe a kid out! Fortunately, combining a few simple moves with time-tested remedies can help ease your little one’s symptoms. So the next time she starts coughing and sneezing, try these savvy tricks to soothe your sick kid in no time.
1. Push an ice pop. “This frozen treat can help soothe a sore throat, plus provide extra fluid to prevent dehydration,” says Dr. Susan Besser, a family physician in Memphis, Tenn., and a mother of six. Giving your child plenty of liquids will also help thin out mucus, making it easier to cough it up.
2. Choose the right remedy. An over-the-counter medication is one of the best ways to relieve cough and cold; just make sure to check the label for age restrictions. A multi-symptom drug is useful in many cases, but don’t assume that it’s a one-size-fits-all treatment. “If your child isn’t experiencing each of the ailments listed on the box, you’re giving her unnecessary meds,” says Besser. “That may cause uncomfortable side effects, like insomnia or nausea.” She advises matching up your child’s specific symptoms with the medicine you give her.
3. Use an extra pillow. “Elevating a child’s head will keep those nasal secretions flowing forward and out of the nose,” says Dr. Peter I. Liber, a pediatrician in Wheaton, Ill., and a father of four. That can prevent postnasal drip from turning into a cough — and help her sleep more soundly.
4. Have a cooldown. While waiting for that acetaminophen or ibuprofen to kick in, a cold washcloth or icy drink can provide relief for a feverish child. Skip the cool bath, though: Liber explains that may raise his core temperature — and actually worsen fever.
5. Soothe with steam. “Adding moisture to the air can help loosen up congestion,” says Besser. Keep a vaporizer or humidifier in your child’s room, and remember to change the water daily to prevent bacteria growth. Or run a hot shower and let her sit in the fogged-up bathroom for up to 15 minutes.
6. Teach good hankie habits. “Clamping your nose with a tissue and blowing forcefully can lead to nosebleeds or even a ruptured eardrum,” cautions Besser. Instruct your child to clear her nose gently. While you’re at it, remind her to toss the tissue in the trash afterwards and wash her hands to avoid spreading germs.
7. Calm with creams. Turns out those mentholated topical ointments and creams your own mom gave you really do work. According to a recent study, sick kids whose parents applied a vapor rub to their chest 30 minutes before bedtime slept better, breathed easier and coughed less throughout the night than those who didn’t. Just make sure to follow the directions on the package, and avoid using in and around the nose.
8. Protect his nose. You can’t always help whether your little guy uses a tissue or his sleeve to wipe his nose. “But you can keep his nostrils from getting red,” says Liber. He suggests applying a thin layer of petroleum jelly beneath his nose and on the outside of his nostrils to keep the skin from becoming chapped.
The new guidelines advise parents to…
- Keep toddlers in rear-facing car seats until they reach two years of age or until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their car safety seat’s manufacturer.
- Most children will need to remain in a booster seat until they have reached 4 feet 9 inches tall and are between 8 and 12 years old. The booster seat’s shoulder belt should lie across the middle of the chest and shoulder, not near the neck or face. The lap belt should fit low and snug on the hips and upper thighs, not across the belly.
- Children should ride in the rear of a vehicle until they reach 13 years old
According to Dennis Durbin, MD, FAAP, lead author of the AAP policy statement, the new guidelines are based on the latest scientific and medical research which indicate that: “A rear-facing child safety seat does a better job of supporting the head, neck and spine of and toddlers in a crash, because it distributes the force of the collision over the entire body…For larger children, a forward-facing seat with a harness is safer than a booster, and a belt-positioning booster seat provides better protection than a seat belt alone until the seat belt fits correctly.”
According to NHTSA Administrator David Strickland, “while all car seats sold in the U.S. must meet federal child restraint safety standards, selecting the right seat was a challenge for many parents”. The “room for interpretation” in the 2002 guidelines plus the huge variety of car safety seats on the market often left parents with more questions than answers. The result: children were transitioning from one stage of car safety seat to the next, far too early to be truly considered “safe”.
New research findings, however are clear. Children under age 2 are safer in rear-facing car seats. Children under age 2 are 75% less likely to die or be severely injured in a crash if they are rear-facing. The hope of both NHTSA and the AAP is that issuing these new requirements will simplify the selection process and make it easier for parents to choose the “best” car seat for their child.
For more information:
- For guidance from the AAP to help parents choose the most appropriate car safety seat for their child, click here
- For a detailed list of car safety seats, including the height and weight limitations for each, click here
- For state-specific child passenger safety laws, click here
- For a copy of the NHTSA “Car Seat Recommendations for Children” poster (above), click here