10 ways to boost your child’s immune system

Now that winter is well and truly upon us (in the Southern hemisphere at least), I’m hearing from lots of mums and dads who’d like to boost their child’s immunity and prevent the relentless coughs and colds.

Helping your child’s immune system is possible through healthy, natural foods, and with a little time and effort, you might prevent that next antibiotic prescription.

Here are my top 10 tips to boost your child’s immune system.

  1. Eat at least 5 servings of immunity-boosting fruit and veggies every day

A good diet is the foundation of a healthy immune system and making sure your child has lots and lots of fruit and vegetables in their diet is a fantastic first step.  Try to get at least 5 servings of fruit and vegetables every day.

Every meal and most snacks should contain some vegetables.  Try to include a rainbow of vegetables, as each colour represents different phytochemicals (the vitamins and other goodies in the vegetables).

How about adding some wilted spinach at breakfast, or including some veggie sticks for morning tea, and perhaps a small thermos of soup at lunch time.

Aim to include a mixture of raw vegetables, fermented vegetables and cooked vegetables every day.

When it comes to fruits, choose seasonal fruits – nature knows what we need and provides us with an abundance of high vitamin C citrus fruit in winter.  Fruits are also cheaper when they are in season.

  1. Choose your supplements carefully

There are lot of vitamins and supplements on the market targeted at children’s immunity. Think cartoon characters, bright colours, cool shapes.

What child wouldn’t love them?

These are generally very sweet, really fun packaging and tasty.  Ironically, sugar depletes your child’s immune system, so chewing a few too many of these gummies will be doing more harm than good.

Alas, they are jam packed full of sugar and other additives.  The amount of actual vitamins and minerals in these is too tiny.  There isn’t enough to help your child at all!

You are much better off buying a better quality supplement.  This has much more of the active ingredients and a lot less of the nasty additives.  Sure, it will cost you more initially, but at least it is doing what it claims to do.

If you, like many other parents, have been buying the gummies, and your child’s immune system still isn’t firing as you would like to, try swapping to a more therapeutic supplement, not targeted at kids.  You will be pleasantly surprised with this difference

When you are choosing a supplement, here are a few tips of what to look for:

  • Vitamins and minerals to help boost immunity are are Vitamin A,C and Zinc
  • Useful herbs in supplements include Echinacea and Elderberry.
  • Look for NO added sugar (stevia is ok, avoid artificial sweeteners)
  1. Try a little Cod Liver oil

This might seem like it is straight out of the middles ages, but don’t write it off just yet!

Cod liver oil is high in vitamin A and vitamin D.  It also contains essential fatty acids, which are so beneficial for our health.  There’s a reason why kids in the olden days used to line up to get their teaspoon of Cod Liver oil every day.  These people knew prevention was better (and cheaper!) than cure.

Vitamins A and D are great for boosting your immune system.

The vitamin A, vitamin D and the EFAs work together to improve respiratory system health This can reduce the over-reaction of the immune system to irritants like pollen and dust.

Think less coughing, less asthma attacks, less croup.

You can buy cod liver oil with a bit of orange or peppermint essential oil, so they are pleasant enough to taste.  All the same, don’t go adding them to smoothies – just take the dose on a spoon and then eat some food.

When you buy a good quality Cod Liver Oil, the amount children need is tiny, about half a teaspoon a day. If you child really isn’t keen, you can syringe the small amount into the back of their mouth.  Can’t remember to take it?  Set an alarm on your phone to go off just before breakfast or dinner.

Oh, and even in wintery weather, keep it in the fridge.  Give a child rancid Cod Liver oil once, and they will never take it again!

  1. Experiment with fermented foods

Another old tradition which has become popular in the last few years is fermented foods.

These are foods that naturally contain lots of beneficial yeasts and bacterial.   By feeding your child good bugs, you can crowd out the bad bugs, and boost your child’s immune system.

The great thing about fermented foods is that they contain a vast array of different strains of bacteria and yeasts.  This is different to probiotics which contain a limited number of different types.

Diversity of the bugs in your system in important for overall health.

Some kid friendly options include :

  • Kefir (make into a delicious berry smoothie).  You can make Kefir from dairy, or if your child is intolerant, you can make water kefir instead.
  • Sauerkraut made with added carrots and beetroot to increase the kid appeal.

It is best to make these yourself at home, but you can also buy them in health food shops.  Just make sure they aren’t pasteurised, or this will kill the bacteria that you want to introduce.

If your child hasn’t has fermented foods before, start with a small amount and increase over time.  Otherwise they might get a bit windy for a few days!

Taking a probiotic supplement is also useful as you can consume a lot of bacteria in a short time.

  1. Try to breastfeed your child as long as possible

By breastfeeding, your child is getting access to mum’s immune system.

They automatically get immunity to lots of the bugs that mum has developed immunity to.   This mean less coughs and colds when breastfeeding.

If you child is transitioning to day care try to keep breastfeeding for at least a few more months.  The first 6 weeks at day care can be the worst for being sick, and if the child is breastfed, it can make this a little less severe.

All the lovely cuddles can only help too!

  1. Allow your child lots of sleep

Babies and young children needs a lot of sleep and rest time.

Too many activities, late nights and not enough quality sleep will put a strain on their immune system.  Make sure your child is getting enough sleep (meaning you get more parents only time too!)

They should wake up refreshed in the morning.  If they don’t, it might be wise to make bed time half an hour earlier.

Some children can handle an activity after school every day, some cannot. You need to figure out what works for your child.

 7. Encourage plenty of exercise

Whilst too much exercise will dampen the immune system, enough exercise is crucial.  Exercise increases the body’s natural killer cells.  These are really important for fighting off coughs and colds.

So get out as a family – go for bike rides, walk the dog, play on the sand at the beach.

  1. Give your child safe sun exposure

 We get most of our vitamin D from the sun.

In winter we tend to spend more time inside and cover a lot of our body when we go outside.  This causes vitamin D levels in our blood to drop.

Immune system function then decreases.

So get outside more often!

In most parts of Australia, even in winter, during the day is warm enough to go outside in a T shirt for at least a short time.   The best parts of the body for converting the sunlight to vitamin D is bums and tums.

So even just a few minutes of nudie play in the middle of the day will be helpful.

  1. Enjoy my immune boosting chicken soup

Another oldie but a goodie.

See my recipe for immune boosting chicken soup here.

Not only is your child getting all the nutrition from the chicken bones, they are also getting lots of vegetables, herbs and garlic.

Soup is great to have on breakfast in the winter.  Don’t believe the marketing hype that breakfast has to be all about cereal and toast.

Why not soup for breakfast? 

Garlic is an amazing natural antimicrobial.  It is most effective raw, not cooked.

Garlic is also an expectorant, so it will help loose and get rid of respiratory congestion (aka Snot).  The added herbs are also great for fighting colds.

  1. Eat mucus-thinning foods

Mucus is a natural substance. If there is too much of it, it will become a breeding ground for bacteria.  You know your child has too much mucus if they can feel it running down their throat, and they have to snort it.

The mucus could be in your child’s ears, lungs or throat.

What your child eats will affect the amount and type of mucus they produce.

Foods like dairy, sugar, white flour and food additives will increase the amount of mucus.

Foods like garlic, onions and spring onions will reduce the amount of mucus.

Water keeps the mucus thin, so make sure your child is drinking at least 1 litre every day.

I hope you find these 10 tips practical!  Choose a few to focus on straight away, and a few to work on next month.

Hopefully this winter you can stay away from the doctors, and enjoy happy family time instead!

Migraines – how to reduce them naturally

Migraines run in my family, so it was no surprise that I started to suffer headaches when I quite young.  Eventually proper migraines started when I was about 17.  Drugs like aspirin or paracetamol generally don’t work for this condition.  Strong medications, specifically designed for migraines can cause a rebound headache.  You can get stuck in a loop of migraine and medication, which can be difficult to break out of.  The next intervention in the conventional medical model involves taking prophylactic medication such as anti-depressants or beta blockers to stave off migraines.  As you can see, none of these options are very sustainable.

Being a migraine sufferer is one of the reasons I became so interested in natural medicine.  I am glad to say I am largely migraine free these days.  Migraines are very multi-factorial.  What works for one person will not work for another person, for the simple reason that the causes will be different for different people.

Here are a few common triggers, and what you can do about them:

  1. Food Sensitivities.  Having a sensitivity to a food you eat regularly can lead to migraines.  Common foods that trigger migraines are dairy and eggs.  To find out if you have a sensitivity, you can do an elimination diet.  This means cutting out all the foods which you suspect may be an issue, and seeing if the migraines resolve.  If they do, you can then methodically add them back one by one, and see if a migraine is triggered.  This is best done in collaboration with a nutritionist to understand which foods to remove.  This method is time consuming, but is ultimately the gold standard in determining which foods you are sensitive to.  I use special software in my practice which can plan your meals when on an elimination diet.  Other methods involve testing.  I frequently use hair testing to assess an individual’s reaction to foods, and also blood tests to look at IgG and IgA reactions to food.  Many people find that reduced amines in their diet can reduce their migraines.
  2. Gluten.  This can be inflammatory to lots of people, not just people with coeliac disease. Gluten is found in foods containing wheat, barley, rye, oats and spelt.  Cutting out gluten and seeing if your migraines resolve is actually not as hard as it might sound.   Guidance from a Nutritionist can be important to know where gluten can be hidden in foods.  Finally, be prepared for the inevitable questioning regarding your lack of coeliac disease!
  3. Hormones.  Many women find migraines go hand in hand with fluctuating hormones.  Taking the pill, HRT or even oestrogenic foods like soy can exacerbate them.  Ultimately this comes down to the ability of your body processes the hormones.  If your liver isn’t working at full speed, it won’t be detoxifying the oestrogen your produce every month.  This causes an overload of oestrogen in your body, and this can make you feel pretty sick.  Therefore focusing on some gentle detoxification of you liver can help reduce and even eliminate migraines.
  4. Magnesium deficiency.  A high quality, reasonably high dose of magnesium can be very beneficial for migraines. Taken every day, this can be a great preventative.  Take an extra dose of magnesium if you feel a migraine coming on.  Magnesium relaxes your muscles, and consequently keeps the blood flowing to your brain.  An extra bonus is that it can really improve your sleep quality, which in itself will reduce migraines.
  5. Sleep.  Not enough sleep or poor sleep patterns can trigger migraines. For shift workers, this is hard to avoid.  Parents of young children can also struggle to get a decent night’s sleep.  Maintaining good sleep hygiene and lifestyle changes can help with sleep.
  6. B vitamins.  Diets deficient in B vitamins can lead to migraines. Eating a healthy diet can provide all the B vitamins you need.  However you may need a supplement for a short time to top up you levels if they are low.

Finally, physical therapies looking at muscle imbalances and tightness can also be very useful.  Find a osteopath, chiropractor or physiotherapist who specialises in migraines and headaches.  Speak to me for a referral.

Detox – who needs to do it, and how does it help?

Group detox program

A detox can be an integral part of a healthy life. Regular detoxification is ideal for improving your level of wellness.  It can enhance your overall health to keep you at your best. A detox can also be used as a therapeutic treatment for digestive issues.  It can reduce any symptoms that may be associated with toxicity.

Have you experienced one or more of these signs and symptoms of toxicity?

  • Indigestion, constipation, diarrhoea, stomach pain, or feeling sluggish or nauseous after eating
  • Recurrent headaches
  • Muscle aching and weakness
  • Nerve pain or numbness
  • Recurrent infections
  • Poor short-term memory and concentration
  • Sensitivity to environmental chemicals and strong odours e.g. perfumes
  • Chronic fatigue and lethargy
  • Anxiety and/or mood swings
  • Hormonal problems such as PMS or heavy, painful or irregular periods

If this sounds like you, join my group detox 6 week program.

This includes:

  • A one on one consultation at the start of the program
  • 4 group sessions to keep you motivated and on track (limited to 4 people per group)
  • A one on one consultation at the end of the program
  • All the nutritional and herbal support you need for the duration of the detox
  • Information booklet with detailed diet and lifestyle information

Your investment is $125 per week for 6 weeks, payment plans are available.

Send me a message or give me a ring for a free 15 minute consultation to decide if this is right for you.


Sleep – a precious commodity!

Our family has been struggling with getting one of children to sleep for the last 5 years.  As a baby she slept, well, like a baby.  But once she hit toddlerhood, bedtimes became seriously derailed.  We would spend hours trying to get her to sleep – the stories, the cuddles, sitting with her, leaving her to cry.  We tried it all.  Like a jack in the box she would got out of bed over and over again, until she collapsed at about 9.30pm.  Then every night, she would end up in our bed as she would wake in the night from her light sleep.

Starting school escalated the situation.  Morning tantrums became a regular occurrence.  She was so tired and didn’t want to get up. It was particularly disturbing that she was getting upset about her inability to sleep. She would ask why her siblings could just get into bed and fall asleep and she couldn’t.

We eat a really healthy diet, so we couldn’t look at reduced sugar or additives.  I had to think more broadly.

Our fortunes changes when we did Bio-compatability hair analysis for her.  This gave us a list of about 8 foods which her body was not dealing well with.  We easily eliminated these foods, without having to remove any food groups entirely.  We haven’t looked back.  Now she goes to bed easily every single night, and stays in her bed until she wakes refreshed at 6.30am.  This is life changing for us, we actually get our evenings back.  This has had a dramatic effect on her school work and she has made huge improvements in a very short space of time.

The test is totally non-invasive.  Grab the scissors and cut off a few locks of hair, that’s it.  No blood tests, no skin pricks, no scratch tests.

If you or your family suffer from headaches, skin conditions, ADHD, asthma, behavioural issues or sleep disturbances, book in for an initial appointment with me.  We can go through your health history and decide if this test is right for you.

Probiotic cleaning – an alternative to chemicals?

I was interested to come across “Probiotic Solutions” cleaning product.  With 3 kids to clean up after and an Airbnb business on the side, I spend quite a bit of my time cleaning.  We use very environmentally friendly cleaning products for our own health, but also because we are on a septic system.  Anti-bacterial chemicals or bleach would ruin the balance of our septic tank.  We would have a smelly situation on my hands.   I am very familiar with probiotics from a food and supplement point of view, but was intrigued by the thought of spraying them round my home!

Read More

Why do I not eat gluten?

Why do I not eat gluten?

‘Gluten free’ has always been considered a bit of a fad diet.  Twenty years ago, it was fairly rare for someone to say they were gluten free, unless they were diagnosed with celiac disease.  Now there is a multi-million dollar industry devoted to gluten free eating.  So where does the truth lie, and why does my family avoid gluten?

Read More


I knew my middle child was allergic to egg since she was 6 months.  She was chewing on my sandwich in a café, and developed a rash round her mouth.  I thought at first it was the roughness of the bread, but quickly realised it was the mayonnaise she was reacting to.

Read More


I love my daily coffee.  For me it isn’t about needing caffeine to get me going.  It’s about the taste, the ritual and the sense of community I get from the barista knowing my order.

Read More

Beautiful skin for teenagers

I have a confession.  This post isn’t just about healthy skin, it’s about acne.  Putting the title as Acne is probably as alluring as “ingrown toenails” or something similar.  Acne is a subject unfortunately too close to my heart.

Read More


I have been having great success growing Wild Rocket in my garden. My American friends will know it as Arugula. I chose this as one of my main plants to grow this summer, as it is the only green leafy vegetable that my husband will actually order in a restaurant – albeit with parmesan cheese and balsamic vinegar on top!

Read More