Cold and flu viruses need an acidic environment that lacks oxygen to live. When your diet consists of a lot of processed, refined and sweet foods you are creating this ideal environment. No wonder so many kids get sick right after Halloween!

Do you read the ingredient list on all of your food and beverage labels before your buy them? If an 8 year old can’t pronounce the entire list of ingredients on the food label, you are probably consuming too many processed foods and chemicals. The goal is to get back to eating REAL food and making WATER your primary choice of a beverage.

Here are 7 of the best tips to prevent seasonal viruses from entering your body:

1) Eat a vegetable-based diet to create an alkaline environment in your body.
Vegetables help create an alkaline environment in your body. Viruses cannot live in this environment. Kids need at least 2-3 (1/2 cup each) servings of vegetables daily. Have cut up vegetables sitting out for kids to snack on before dinner. Include a salad with every dinner meal. Throw some shredded carrots into the muffins. Add some pumpkin to your pancakes. Throw a handful of fresh spinach into the smoothie. Don’t assume your kids won’t eat their vegetables. My kids now ask for salads and carrots. Be a good role model, as adults should be eating 4-5 servings daily.

2) Go organic if it is on the “dirty dozen” list. The “dirty dozen” list contains the twelve fruits & vegetables most heavily sprayed with pesticides. This list was compiled by the Environmental Working Group from approximately 87,000 studies by the USDA and FDA of 47 fruits and vegetables between 2000 and 2007. It is estimated that if you avoid eating the non-organically grown produce on this list, your pesticide exposure can be reduced by up to 80%. Here are the “dirty dozen” listed in decreasing order of pesticide content: Peaches (worst), apples, sweet bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, kale, lettuce, grapes,
carrots and pears.

Buying organic produce is a little more expensive initially, but preventing pesticides, which tax your immune and lymphatic systems, from entering your body is worth it. You will also begin to notice that when you are fueling your body with REAL food that contains live enzymes, phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals, your appetite decreases. This is because you are now nourishing your body’s cells and no longer just feeding your mouth with empty calories.

3) Go organic for dairy products.
There are three main reasons for choosing organic milk and yogurt. First, you will avoid consuming the pesticides the cows consumed when they ate the grass and grains sprayed with pesticides and herbicides. Second, you will avoid consuming any antibiotics or hormones that were injected into the cows prior to milking. Third, you will be amazed to notice the improvement in your child’s focus and behavior. This last reason is subjective on my part. I have noticed a drastic improvement in the behavior of my children. All three of my children are much more calm, focused and happy since our family switched to all organic milk and yogurt.
A bonus benefit is that once you taste how rich and creamy organic milk tastes, you will never want to switch back to your old milk. The 1% milk is so rich, it tastes like 2% milk. Stonyfield Farm is our favorite choice for organic yogurt. It is also made without corn syrup or artificial sweeteners.

4) Satisfy your sweet-tooth without sugar.
Sugar creates an acidic environment in your body and lowers your immune system. This includes the corn syrup that is found on your ingredient list. Great substitutes for sugar or fake pancake syrup are raw honey, 100% pure maple syrup or agave nectar. We use raw honey to replace the sugar in muffin recipes and real maple syrup to sweeten our oatmeal.

Honey is also a great cough suppressant. You can give your child a teaspoon of honey to calm his or her cough or stir it into a cup of warm water or herbal tea. Please note the children under the age of 12 months should not consume any honey (even in baked goods), as their intestinal
tract is not developed enough to handle the botulism spores. Corn syrup and molasses also contain botulism spores and should be avoided in infants under 12 months of age.

Use fruit to satisfy your family’s sweet tooth. Fruit, like vegetables, produce an alkaline reaction in your body and therefore decrease your risk of getting a cold or the flu. Kids should consume 2-3 (1/2 cup) servings of fruit per day and adults should aim for 3-4 servings daily. Try frozen berries topped with organic yogurt and a little honey or agave nectar for a real treat. Apples with a little peanut butter are a great after-school snack. You will be amazed to notice that when you increase your fruit intake, your intense sugar cravings will go away.

5) Get outside and move your body daily.
Be sure to get outside for at least 15 minutes daily to get fresh air and sunshine. You get vitamin D from the sun shining on your skin. Vitamin D helps turn on the body’s immune response. This could be as simple as walking your child to school or taking a 15-minute family-walk after school.

Ideally, you will move your body for a total of 30 minutes daily. One of the most important reason to get your body moving is for the stress-reduction benefits. Excess stress increases your body’s acidity and will cause you to be more susceptible to the invasion of viruses. Exercise also helps increase your intake of oxygen and viruses do not like an oxygenated environment.

6) Get plenty of sleep.
Lack of sleep will increase your level of cortisol, which is a stress hormone. Cortisol increases the acidity of your body, which then increases your susceptibility to cold and flu viruses. Kids ages 5-12 need 10-11 hours of sleep per night. For the best sleep, they should not have a TV in their bedroom or it should be unplugged. Younger kids need up to 12 hours per night and most adults will need 7-8 hours of restful sleep per night.

7) Keep Your Nose Clean.
To prevent viruses from entering your body, you need to keep your nose clean. The Neti pot is a small ceramic pot designed specifically to flush out your nose. Just add warm salt water to the pot, tilt your head, pour the water into one nostril and watch it come out the other nostril. You can also swab the inside of your nose with warm salt water.

Author's Bio: 

Jill Fleming, MS, RD is the author of "Eat to Beat the Flu: Prevent Seasonal Viruses with Simple Food Choices". The book is available at She is an award-winning wellness speaker and registered dietitian with her masters degree in Nutritional Sciences. She has been motivating audiences to take control of their health since 1993. Her first book is "Thin People Don't Clean Their Plates: Simple Lifestyle Choices for Permanent Weight Loss"; information is available at