How Kids And Parents Can Avoid The Back-To-School Cold And Flu

It’s that time of year again! The summer days are winding down and the nights are getting cooler. Depending on where you live you may need to put on an extra layer when you first go out in the morning. 

I love how the seasons transition from one to the other and I love the crisp fall colors. 

But as kids return to school - whether it’s a “hybrid” school year for your family this year or full-time in school - we are also reminded that in addition to avoiding Covid-19, the regular flu will begin making its rounds pretty soon too.

This week we’ll talk about:

  • How to keep your kids from getting sick
  • How you can take care of yourself to stay healthy too

How to keep kids from getting sick

1 - Keep your kids’ annual physical appointment. Your pediatrician will make sure their vaccinations are up to date and be a resource for you if you have any questions about your child’s health or activities. Start a list of questions now that you can bring with you, so you don’t forget to ask anything. 

2 - If you have students heading off to college make sure they know how and where to seek medical care on campus. Give them their own copy of their medical insurance card to keep with them at all times. Make sure they know - write it down and keep it handy - important medical information such as allergies, current medicines, and relevant health history.

3 - Children typically have anywhere from six to ten - or even twelve - colds a year. It seems pretty clear this happens because they spend so much time in close contact with other children, from daycare centers to school classrooms, to the sports locker room. By this point most kids have gotten used to wearing the mask that will protect them, and those around them, from Covid-19. Make it easier to wear the mask by getting a style they love. 

4 - Talk to your children about washing their hands often - a lot - and using hand sanitizer when they can’t get to a sink (keep some in their backpack at all times). Teach them not to touch other students’ desks, chairs, or belongings. Remind them not to touch their own face - eyes, nose, and mouth. And remind them to sneeze or cough into their inner elbow, even if they’re wearing a mask.

5 - Eating nutritious meals is important for growing bodies. So is getting enough sleep and drinking plenty of water. All together these strategies boost their bodies’ immune system. Their cells need the nutrients from healthy fruits and vegetables (without too much processed sugar). Water flushes the body, especially any toxins they pick up from the environment. And sleep is the time their bodies can repair and get rejuvenated. 

6 - Reduce stress - which lowers natural immunity - by preparing your child ahead of time for any expectations and transitions. Consider reducing extra-curricular activities if they lead to too much stress also. And encourage your child to do their best work in school without comparisons to other children (especially siblings), and while keeping everything in perspective. 

Adults are susceptible to illness in the fall too

Because we don’t have a lot of choice, once the weather gets too cold to sit outside for long we go inside, leaving adults more susceptible to illness as well. When we close the windows and turn up the heat it means the air is more humid and it simply recirculates the germs in that space, creating a perfect atmosphere to catch a bug in no time. 

Stress is one of the major contributors to illness. When you’re stressed - as is likely to happen when your kids start having to do homework again - and not eating or sleeping well, it weakens your immune system. 

Of course, when the seasons change, it could also mean that your allergies flare up. They could come from falling leaves and dying plants, dusty offices with closed windows, or mold from seaters you’re dusting off from the back of the closet. 

In addition to leaving you feeling crummy, allergies can cause lung and nasal passage irritation, making you even more susceptible to catching a cold or flu. And because of recurrent allergies, when you do get sick the symptoms can be even worse! This combination of allergies + susceptibility + enhanced symptoms can make it seem like you’re battling the same cold for weeks or months at a time. 

It’s the bugs! 

It’s not the weather, per se, that’s making you sick; it’s the germs! How you respond to the seasonal changes impacts how likely you are to get sick and even how long you will stay sick. 

It’s possible to stay healthy and to navigate through these seasonal changes! Since there are many activities and behaviors that you can’t avoid your best bet to stay your healthiest is to keep your immune system in tip-top shape. 

How to build a healthy immune system so you can beat colds and flus

Here are some great tips to decrease your chances of getting sick this coming flu season.

Good nutrition. Yes, just like the kids. Without the right nutrients your body just can’t work well. A healthy, balanced diet consists of getting the right nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that your body needs. This means:

-- Eating a variety of vegetables and fruits - A nice colorful mix every day. Get them “in season” whenever you can!

-- Eating healthy proteins and fats. 

Try this:

The Keto-Green® Diet and Lifestyle is your best bet in maintaining optimal health and wellness. My keto-green way is high in vegetables, protein and good fats, and low in bad carbs and processed foods.

To start with, make sure you focus on getting your body alkaline before you start the diet, to stack the health benefits in your favor. I’ve seen this time and time again in my clients who try to get into ketosis but forget about the importance of staying alkaline.

A body that is too acidic is a prime breeding spot for inflammation and many diseases. You want to avoid that as much as possible.

I would also add adrenal adaptogens like  Maca to strengthen your immune system because the adrenals and immune system are intricately connected. You want to have your adrenals in the best possible condition so your adrenals and immune system are ready to fight off any bug if it needs to.

In order to become alkaline:

  • Don’t consume too many foods and drinks that are highly acidic (like alcohol, caffeine, red meats, etc.
  • Be sure to get a variety of colorful vegetables and low glycemic fruits.
  • Add Mighty Maca® Plus to your daily diet. Mighty Maca Plus is highly alkalizing and is also an adrenal adaptogen. Two or three scoops in water, or your favorite juice or mix, really helps to alkalize the body and keeps your immune system in good shape.  

It’s very important not to guess how you’re doing when it comes to weight loss and being healthy. “What gets measured gets managed!” (You are welcome to quote me on that!) 

To determine how alkaline your body is use my Keto-pH™ Urine Test Strips. They were specially created so you can use one each day to see how you’re doing, and determine what you can eat easily, and what needs a little more thought and preparation. I use mine to see how much dark chocolate and wine I can have in the evening!

To learn more read:

Immune Booster Supplements

My keto-alkaline diet is amazing for the body, but I’m also a big advocate of added supplements to ensure you stay healthy and balanced! There is evidence that micronutrients can alter immune responses in animals.

Because life isn’t always smooth sailing, you may get a little stressed, sleep less well, and end up not eating as healthy as you should…. so, a little bit of help in the supplements department is never a bad idea!  

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is a  common deficiency in the general population. And when levels are low, it can affect your immune system. Vitamin A is found in orange vegetables like pumpkins, squash, sweet potatoes and carrots.

Eating orange vegetables helps to rebuild mucosal immunity. Healthy mucus that coats areas of your respiratory system is important for keeping germs at bay.

Try this:

Eat seasonally! This fall get your fill of pumpkins, squash, carrots, and sweet potatoes — all rich in immune-boosting vitamin A. Have them roasted, in a puree or soup to stay cold-free.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D can help with acute respiratory tract infections and is a key player in boosting the immune system. Vitamin D increases key antimicrobial proteins that help keep the germs away. Unfortunately, in the winter it can be hard to get your dose of daily sunshine, so you will have to increase your intake of foods rich in vitamin D.

Sunshine and the right foods alone may not be enough to reach the daily recommended intake, which is at least 15 micrograms (mcg) a day.

The Vitamin D Council reports that low vitamin D levels puts you at risk for getting influenza, but it also increases your risk for having the most severe complications. I think one of the simplest, cheapest, and most effective interventions we have for preventing influenza is to start vitamin D before the flu season.

Vitamin D3 is the bioidentical form you want to take because it is the most helpful in boosting your immune system. How much you should take depends on your blood level — you might want to get tested to check yours. But in my experience from past patients and clients, the required dose sits somewhere around 5,000 international units (IUs) every day.

Try this:

I recommend 5,000 IUs of vitamin D3 a day.

Always make sure to take it with a fatty meal because it is a fatty vitamin, making it easier for your body to absorb. On top of that, introduce foods like eggs, fatty fish, and mushrooms into your diet.

Mushrooms are the only vegetarian foods that make vitamin D naturally. Wild mushrooms (like chanterelles, mai­take, and morels) contain more vitamin D because they get more sun exposure, as opposed to farmed mushrooms that are grown indoors.

Whenever there is sunshine, aim to spend at least an hour outside (if you have fairer skin) or two hours (if you have darker skin).

Zinc and vitamin C

Zinc and vitamin C are great preventative vitamins to add to your daily diet this winter.

They help to boost your immune system, making it a preventative measure before you catch a cold or flu. Unfortunately, while they don't heal you when you’re already sick, they can be beneficial for a speedier recovery. So start taking this preemptively.

Try this:

2,000 IUs of vitamin C a day, and somewhere between 30 milligrams to 50 milligrams of zinc daily.

Sleep, Exercise, And Play

The human body — natural healer that it is — works to heal itself for the most part. Sleep is crucial in this process. Lack of sleep can increase inflammatory compounds associated with conditions like asthma and allergies.

It can also lead to an underproduction of cytokines (immune proteins) and other protective immune cells that you need to fight infections.

Exercise, on the other hand, improves circulation, which boosts the production of germ-fighting antibodies, among other things. It also helps to reduce and relieve stress, which we know weakens your immune system.

Play helps your body release oxytocin, and oxytocin helps to drive down cortisol, the stress hormone.

So a combination of rest, recovery, play and movement is crucial in staying healthy!

Try this:

Get your rest! Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Don’t be afraid of taking naps either. Also, add a healthy workout regime at least three times a week.

Move daily! Opt for walking as much as you can, climbing the stairs instead of taking that elevator, and ride your bike instead of driving!

A little movement each day can go a long way toward a healthier you! Get outside more, enjoy the sunshine whenever you can and definitely add more play into your life.

Listen To Your Gut

Gut care is getting more attention these days, as it should! We’re finding out just how important a healthy gut is to your immune system.

Did you know that 70% of your immune system is in your gut?

And it’s often the last place you think of keeping healthy.

This study by several universities in Beijing as well as Indiana State University, shows that adults who took the combination of probiotics (Lactobacillus paracasei, Lactobacillus casei 431®, and Lactobacillus fermentum PCC®) could reduce the incidence of upper respiratory infection.

So, you want to have “good” bacteria in your gut to prevent foreign invaders from penetrating your defenses. Sadly, there are many ways to upset the balance of “good” and “bad” bacteria in your stomach. Antibiotics, alcohol, vaccines, processed foods and getting overly stressed can all derail your gut health.

Try this:

Stock up on fermented foods! Sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha tea, and natural yogurt are all great for your gut health. You should also add a probiotic supplement — especially if you’ve taken antibiotics —  to help maintain healthy gut flora and improve immunity.

Wash Your Hands

As a mom, I can’t count how many times I’ve said this in my lifetime! This is so simple but so important to your overall health. The fact is, germs are everywhere. Your daily actions cause you to touch, sit on, and share germs every day.

Just like you remind your kids to wash and sanitize their hands regularly at school, this is something parents need to model when kids are around, and do anyway when kids aren’t around!

Try this:

Wash your hands when you get home, after using the toilet, before and after you cook and of course, before meals. And just like the kids need to be reminded not to touch their faces, so do we adults! 


What To Do If The Flu “Catches” You!

Sometimes despite all your efforts, you still get sick. You’re down with a fever, you have the chills, a sore throat, your nose, and head feel stuffy, you have no appetite and you’re fatigued. Catching flu is terrible!

There is no cure for the flu, so please don’t take any antibiotics for it. Unfortunately, you do have to ride it out, but you can do a few things to help relieve the symptoms and help you recover quicker.

Stay hydrated:

When you're sick, you tend not to eat and drink as much as you should. You're feeling terrible, you're feverish, you're on the couch, you don't want to get up to use the restroom. So you tend to limit your fluid intake. When you do that, your blood gets thick and sticky and your immune system cells can't get where they need to go. So, hydration is one of the most important strategies for treating influenza.

Chicken broth:

Chicken broth or chicken soup has some very healing nutrients in it. When it's made with onions, that's prebiotic. When it's made with garlic, that's immune boosting. When you have the glutamine, which is the primary amino acid in bone broth, it is highly supportive of the gut-associated immune system. So, chicken broth is medicine and when it's homemade, it's the best.

Break up mucus:

You want to avoid mucus-producing foods like dairy products and grains, typically. Instead, eat foods that help break up the mucus and decongest your nasal passages. A natural way to do this is to eat spicy food, ginger, and bitter melon, onion juice or lemon juice in warm water.


Increase your zinc and increase vitamin C, even up to 8,000 milligrams of vitamin C a day. Take your vitamin D3 (discuss with your doc about a 50,000 to 100,000 IU bolus at first flu symptoms) as well as an adrenal adaptogen like Mighty Maca Plus.


I recommend taking 100 billion probiotic units a day until you are well again.

Dental Health:

Your mouth is a gateway for illness and keeping it healthy is surprisingly easy with the right products. That means skip the mouthwash, which is killing off the good germs as well as the bad, and use remineralizing tooth powder.  My favorite product Primal Life Organics starter kit and LED light mouth therapy. Here is the “all things dental” video I did with Trina Felber, the founder of Primal Life Organics.


Let's talk about fever. You may think it’s best to try to reduce it. However, if your fever is around 100, 101, maybe even 102, it is best to let those fevers simmer. Your body is using that fever for a reason. It helps to change the shapes of the proteins in those viruses, making them more susceptible to your immune system. So, let that fever do its job. Don't medicate every fever. It's there for a reason.

But if it gets any higher, then it’s something to look at. Use your good judgment. If you're not eating, never, ever, take Tylenol. It can be highly liver toxic and when you are calorie restricted, it worsens the liver toxicity. Don’t forget the old remedies like getting into a tepid, lukewarm bath. As long as the temperature is lower than the body temperature, it will cool you down.

In an emergency, you can use an ice pack in your pulse points, like the armpits, the groin, or in the neck, This will often lower the fever and make you feel better faster.  

Of course, you might not be able to get ice packs or into baths. For this, I’d say take anti-inflammatories like Naproxen, which is safer than ibuprofen in terms of its cardiovascular risk profile.

All in all, stay warm, drink your fluids, eat your supplements and take it easy.

Bringing It All Together

I would suggest that you stock up on your supplies before the flu season, because once you're sick, you might not want to go out to the store. Nor would you want to send anybody else out who might be a carrier of flu germs to spread it around.

Of course, it’s easy to say, “just be healthy!” You know you need to eat better, sleep well, take the right supplements, get enough sleep and exercise. But the sad reality is that you don’t always have the luxury of self-care.

No judgment here, we all get busy. My suggestion though is to start with good nutrition and follow my keto-alkaline way. When you start seeing the effects of a balanced body, it will encourage you to improve other parts of your life.

Mighty Maca® Plus is also a safe, easy, natural way to get most of your daily nutrients if you’re too busy to prep and make naturally-balanced meals. I created Mighty Maca® Plus because living is hard work! I wanted something that would make life easier for all of us, something that is all natural, GMO-free, allergen free, safe and that would fit into my schedule. 

Mighty Maca® Plus plays an important role in helping you alkalize your body, which makes it easier to lose weight and feel healthy. To determine how alkaline your body already is, use my Keto-pH™ Urine Test Strips. Testing, not guessing, is key to weight loss success; especially in menopause and when over the age of 40. Use the test strips to eliminate guessing and for healthy fat loss, stable moods and balanced hormones.

Like I mentioned above, one to two scoops of Mighty Maca® Plus in water or your favorite juice is a great way to start your day!

Thanks for reading, and I hope you stay healthy and happy this fall! Please comment below with what you do to stay healthy during flu season!

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Dr. Anna Cabeca

Dr. Anna Cabeca

Certified OB/GYN, Anti-Aging and Integrative Medicine expert and founder of The Girlfriend Doctor. During Dr. Anna’s health journey, she turned to research to create products to help thousands of women through menopause, hormones, and sexual health. She is the author of best-selling The Hormone Fix, and Keto-Green 16 and MenuPause.

Learn more about my scientific advisory board.