So, tis the season of colds, flu and an assortment of other germs meant to wreak havoc with our lives this winter. I got a call from my children’s doctor last week asking if I wanted to get them the flu shot. I am not a big fan of the flu shot for reasons I will not get into here for fear of causing a vaccination debate. Suffice it to say when they are labeled ‘optional’ I skip them. During our talk, she mentioned the widespread outbreak of Norovirus that is going around. What is Norovirus? Basically it is a really easily spread stomach virus that will leave the infected individual hugging the porcelain God and praying for salvation for several days. NOT a pleasant thing to come down with. So, what does a mom with 2 germy children who works in a pharmacy do to keep her family healthy? Well, if you are looking for ways to prevent Norovirus naturally, here are a few suggestions.
Tips to Prevent Norovirus and other viral illnesses naturally
1. Keep your immunity up! We are exposed to all sorts of bacteria and viruses every day that have the possibility of causing illness. Why are we not sick every day? Because our immune systems handle them without a problem. The only time we get sick from contact with germs is when our immune systems are too weak to put up a fight. So, keep you and your family in fighting condition with plenty of rest, lots of vitamin C, plenty of fluids and you are well on your way to defeating the stray Norovirus that makes it into your body.
Boost Immunity with Vitamins and Probiotics
2. Take a probiotic: One thing I have in my fridge every single day is a bottle of probiotics. What are probiotics? Basically, they are the GOOD bacteria in your gut that helps keep things in check. When your good bacteria get out of whack, you start suffering from stomach ailments. These beneficial bacteria can be found in high quality yogurts (look for the words ‘live or active cultures’ but the dose is much higher in the capsule of probiotics you can buy at your local health food store. You can also find dosages appropriate for children in easy to deliver forms like flavored liquids or powders that you can hide in your child’s pudding cup! A huge portion of our natural immunity to Norovirus will come from intestinal bacteria so make sure you pick up a bottle!
3. Keep your house clean: I do not mean that you need to go out and bleach every surface anyone ever comes in contact with. I am not a huge fan of bleach and use it very sparingly. Keep the bathroom towels clean, use natural sanitizing wipes to clean bathroom door knobs and sink faucets. Don’t forget to give a quick swipe to the light switch as well. You don’t need to do this with military precision or spend 3 hours a day sterilizing your home. But, if you are in the bathroom in the morning you might want to keep these ideas in mind if you have a couple spare minutes.
4. Wash your produce: You would be amazed at how many people handle those apples from the time it leaves the tree to the time it ends up in your fruit bowl. Norovirus is a hardy virus and can live on many surfaces, just waiting to find the right home…YOU! Wash your produce before you eat it to lessen the chances that someone in the chain of food production could pass on their intestinal illness!
5. Teach your kids to keep their hands clean: This is probably one of the best ways to prevent Norovirus from even entering your home! Teach your children to wash their hands frequently. Make sure that they actually use soap and water! Honestly, how many times have I asked my kids if they washed their hands only to have them say YES and the sink is bone dry! Norovirus can be spread fairly easily so even if YOUR kid washed his hands but little Johnny in the next seat over didn’t, those germs are going to end up on your kid eventually! Remind them to wash their hands after they blow their noses, pick up that chewed up gum from the ground, or just when they walk through the door after school. You do NOT need antibacterial soaps! Putting antimicrobial agents into everything is just making bacteria and viruses stronger! We do not need a stronger Norovirus, we just need a little warm water and regular suds!
6. Investigate natural antiviral remedies: There are a number of natural antiviral remedies that are effect against a whole range of viruses, including Norovirus. Some of these include immune boosting ingredients like zinc and echinacea, which I have in my cabinet all winter. Another one of my favorites is garlic, which has natural antimicrobial qualities. Make sure you get a supplement that is listed as ‘odor free’ or you will be burping it up all day, honestly! Your other option is to take it at night which makes things a little less offensive to your co workers!
7. Stop the spread once you are infected: Just because one child comes home throwing up doesn’t mean everyone has to get sick! Keep one bathroom as the ‘sick room’ if possible and do frequent cleanings of all surfaces. Norovirus can become airborn so change pillow cases to cut down on re-contamination. Research shows that grape seed extract damages the coating on the surface of viruses, including Norovirus, which leaves it unable to adhere to the cells it needs to infect. You can use grape seed extract to clean surfaces like light switches, toilet handles, etc to help sanitize and prevent illness.
There are a lot of ways to help prevent Norovirus from wreaking havoc on your health this winter. Nothing is guaranteed, of course, but taking a few extra precautions NOW is well worth it when you consider the alternatives. Who has time to be sick when we have places to go and Valentine’s Day candy to eat?
Please keep in mind that I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV. This is not meant as medical advice, just my own two cents for as little as that is worth!
If you are sick, think you are sick, or want real medical advice please do not look on the Internet!
Disclaimer: I have an ongoing relationship with some of the products shown in this post but have received no compensation for writing this post. All opinions expressed here are my own and do not reflect opinions of any brand, manufacturer or website included in this post.