First I have to share a Halloween picture because Grace was Belle and had three brave protectors and…I just do. Hope your family had a wonderful Halloween and All Saints and All Souls this week!
Apart from the dress up and feasting fun, October was a doozy at our house. It’s been years since my kids have been so sick, and I’m thankful we’re over it and in a new month that will hopefully be healthier and happier.
After spending an entire month playing nurse and making/dispensing home remedies like it was my full time job, I’ve been weighing both the expensive things we do to stay healthy, and also trying to leverage the free or very inexpensive things that play a huge role in helping us fight illness.
Here are my top seven free or really cheap ways I boost my family’s immune systems. I’m planning to ramp up all of these things at least until spring.
1. Purge Sugar
Most of us know it and don’t want to be reminded, but sugar is the enemy of the gut. Studies have shown direct correlation between sugar consumption and the lowering of the immune system’s ability to attack bad bacteria in the body.
I’m trying to reduce sugar consumption as much as possible (we’ll never be completely rid of it at our house, especially during holiday seasons), limit the occasions we do allow a bit, and hit everyone up with a lot of liquids and detox foods after they’ve had sugar.
Sugar is a sneaky one as it’s in nearly every pre-made and processed food. My 8 year old is a bit of a math nerd so he gave himself the task of going through our pantry and fridge and cataloging how much sugar was in each item in the house. Two staples he found with shockingly high sugar were the Costco box of organic Cliff Z (granola) Bars, and Trader Joe’s fruit favored kefir.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar
ACV is fermented nectar from the gods for just about anything that ails anyone. We swear by it at our house. Extra large jars of Bragg’s Organic goes on sale frequently at my grocery store and is also available when Vitacost has food sales, making it a really cheap tonic.
If we’re sick, we take it every day like medicine. When we’re healthy, we still drink it often if not daily. My favorite way to drink it is with lots of ice and a grapefruit flavored LaCroix (we’ll save the discussion for whether LaCroix is poison or not for another day 😉 My children love to drink it this way as well.
3. Vitamin C Powder
In addition to expensive ways of ingesting Vitamin C (liposomal is our favorite), we buy bulk sodium ascorbate to add to smoothies, muffins, energy balls, drinks, etc.
A 2.2 LB container has 885 servings, so while it’s not a free immune boost, it’s a really cheap one. It comes to about 4 cents per scoop, which is what I’d add to a large smoothie that feeds all my kids for lunch.
4. Lemon Essential Oil
Lemon essential oil is one of the least expensive essential oils (after Orange and Cedarwood) and also one of the best to add to your diet during the winter months.
Lemon is a detox oil, and helps balance the body’s pH and get it in an alkaline state, fights bacteria and fungi, and stimulates lymphatic drainage. It contains 68% d-limone, a powerful antioxidant. Lemon works as an antimicrobial agent, helps boost oral hygiene, improves digestion, and greatly helps break up mucus associated with a cough.
A 15ml bottle of Young Living Lemon (100% pure, organically sourced, therapeutic grade) costs $11.50 wholesale and about $15 retail and contains approx 275 drops. I like to give my children a drop in their first glass of water in the morning or in a tsp of raw local honey. One bottle of lemon will last about 45 days of our family of 6 using it daily.
[Note: if you’re interested in ordering lemon oil I’m happy to help you if you message me. Please don’t order cheaper lemon on Amazon or at the grocery store – those contain synthetics and additives which may be harmful not helpful especially if ingested].
It’s so simple I think we sometimes forget how important drinking enough water is, for ourselves and also for our children. The trainers at my all women’s gym remind us almost daily “drinking water is the healthiest thing you can do for your body, and it’s free!”
We have to stay hydrated to properly flush the body of toxins. My health conscious sister-in-law is always reminding me to “keep everyone’s bowels moving!” for optimal health. Our bodies must flush, especially in the winter months.
I find it so much easier to keep everyone hydrated in summer when my kids are naturally hot and wanting to drink. In winter I have to keep after them with reminders throughout the day. Sometimes I’ll offer incentives or rewards “You want to have the neighbor kids over to play catch? Sure but you have to drink a glass of water first” or “You want to watch Wild Kratts? Everyone clean the playroom and drink a full glass of water first.”
6. Hot Baths after Outings
I had never considered the benefits of hot baths in flu season until my friend Serena (a registered nurse) told me she always puts her kids in a hot bath when they get home from field trips, school, and public outings in flu season. She told me she does hot baths and a clean change of clothes for all five of her kids every single time. It’s really a brilliant idea – I never considered the consequences of leaving my kids in clothes they’ve worn at school or field trips with other kids coughing or sneezing on them.
I like to add epsom salts and a few drops of essential oils to my kids bath too – for the added detox and magnesium benefits.
7. Fermented Foods
Fermented foods are life to the gut, and gut health is key in cold and flu season. Fermenting can take a little bit of time to learn but once you’ve mastered the skill of even one thing, I promise its so so easy to add a few fermented things to your family’s weekly diet. And they are so cheap!
Some of my inexpensive favorites are sourdough bread, kombucha, yogurt, and bone broth. All of these are super cheap and very easy to make (if you have an Instant Pot, for yogurt or bone broth you just through 2-3 ingredients in the pot and push a button. It’s that easy!)
If you follow me on Instagram I have a saved story on how I make bone broth in the instant pot. Basically you cover some bones in water, add 3 TB of apple cider vinegar, some flavor enhancers (carrot, celery, onion, garlic, S&P) and put the lid on for a few hours. You can do the same thing on your stove top it just takes longer.
Bone broth is so good for the gut. It helps detox the body, boosts the immune system, and is also great for joints and skin. And it’s made with water and the old bones from your beef roast or whole chicken! So we could almost say it’s free. 😉
Bone broth makes an amazing detox and gut healing soup when you add protein and vegetables, leafy greens, organic rice, turmeric, ginger, garlic, and lots of herbs. Pinterest has lots of delicious recipes you could try.
After Sicknado October I’m really committed to ramping up all of these free or really cheap immune boosts in our home. What habits are in your arsenal for fighting junk without killing your budget? I’d truly love to hear in the comments.
Have a happy healthy November!