'Tis The Season To Bust The Cold Myth

Brea from Colorado Writes:

It’s the cold and flu season and I am concerned about my two children. They are in school where kids are constantly getting sick. What preventative measures can I take to help them stay healthy during this season? Should they be out playing in the cold weather?

Dear Brea,

It is that time of year again and so many of us believe the old tales that have been passed down to us from our families and not from medical research. I want to help bust some of the myths that we typically hear and give you some real solutions on how to create a healthy environment for your family during the season.

Here are some of the basics:

1. Avoid The Cold Air, It Will Make You Sick!
Even though we call it a “cold”, the low temperatures won’t make you sick. I somehow was always drawn to be outside in the cold air as a child. I tended to have bronchial infections, as a child and the cold air always made it feel better. Of course, my family always advised against it. However, medical research tells us that cells that fight infection actually increase if you go out into the cold air. And according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, cold viruses increase best at 91 degrees. The cold can actually be an immune booster.

2. Don’t Exercise In Cold Weather
We have always heard not to sweat in the cold, as we can get sick! Research published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise tells us that performance can actually increase in colder temperatures. Endorphin levels spike harder which increases performance and advances the immune system. So letting your kids play outside in the snow making snowmen and sledding may be therapeutic for them!

3. Make Sure To Wear That Toboggan! 
There has been a theory that you need to wear a hat when it is cold outside because most of the heat in the body is lost through the head. Not true. Wearing a hat can help keep you warm but will not be causing hypothermia anytime soon. Heat can be lost from any part of the body that is exposed, not just the head. 

4. ”Drink Your Juice” To Prevent Colds
This has been around forever. We think juice equals vitamin C. Great for the immune system, right? Maybe. Juice can be loaded with sugar and can be as challenging to the immune system at times. Eating an entire orange is different than drinking orange juice. When the immune system is low, it is a great option to get your vitamin C through whole food sources and make sure to avoid any added sugars. I like taking the entire fruit and blending them in a high-speed blender to make sure you are getting all the nutrients as fresh as possible. Many organic juicing companies are providing this type of juice in the marketplace now. There was a study in 2013 from the University of Helsinki that showed that increased vitamin C could help at the early sign of some cold symptoms.

5. A Hot Toddy Will Do The Trick  
I have seen parents give their kids small amounts of alcohol to help “boost” the immune system and help with sleep. This may not be the best option. Many researchers advise against this and the reason is quite clear. The alcohol will cause the blood to rush toward the skin and away from vital organs. This can decrease the nutrition that needs to be getting to key areas for proper healing. Also, alcohol is a depressant to the immune system and may slow down the healing process.

Typically to keep your kids healthy during the winter months it is sticking with the basics. Most pediatricians and health care practitioners adhere to these keys below.

1.Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables

2.Get proper rest

3.Consider including Vitamin D3, Multi-Vitamin, probiotics, and fish oil in their daily routine

4.Wash their hands frequently

5.Consider essential oils to keep the immune system strong. Theaves, peppermint, and oregano are great all-around options.

6.Drink plenty of water and unsweetened teas.

7.Avoid sugar as much as possible