A Winter Without Illness

I wanted to make sure we were clear of cold and flu season before I wrote this post, for fear I would jinx it. It’s May now, so I think it’s safe to say that Little Boy and I are virus-busting ninjas!

Let’s visit the past for a moment. Two winters ago (the one before this past one), the Little Boy was getting sick constantly. It was like two weeks on, two weeks off. I didn’t want to take him anywhere when he was sick because I don’t like to spread germs, but when he was well I didn’t want to take him anywhere, either, lest he get sick again. It was a miserable winter.

I noticed when he was a baby, he barely got sick (note: he was breastfed). Every time he did get sick as a baby or a toddler, he nursed and bounced back pretty quickly. The worst illness he had was three winters ago, when I think he caught the Swine Flu. I strongly believe in the immunity boosting qualities of breast milk because despite getting sick a lot, he never got sick too terribly. However, the frequency of his getting sick last winter concerned me. A doctor told me, “He’s just building his immune system. He’s just doing it now instead of later.” I didn’t really believe that. I believe a child can build their immune system without constantly getting sick, and that getting sick a lot is a sign of a weakened immune system. I also thought it was interesting that his incidence of illness increased as his frequency in nursing decreased.

I had suspected food allergy, but now I feel I have a pretty clear picture of what was going on. He had some sort of gut dysbiosis. For whatever reason, his body couldn’t digest foods as well as other kids. Most likely he inherited that from me, possibly part genetic, part gut flora. Another problem was that he was just not getting fed the right foods. Despite being very health-minded and trying my best to feed him well, I didn’t know that certain traditional foods were very important for good health, and I also fed him grains daily that were not prepared to remove plant toxins such as phytic acid.

At the beginning of last autumn, I almost completely removed grains from his diet (and later completely removed them), along with beans and most other legumes (he still got some peanut butter until we did GAPS intro). I also got serious about giving him cod liver oil on a regular basis. We were having raw milk by then (including kefir), eating more vegetables, more beef (and meat in general), more eggs, and having homemade bone broth on a regular basis. So…lots of diet changes and a big shift toward traditional foods and digestion-friendly foods. We made progress on our new diet all through the winter, adding in more broth and more probiotic foods.

There was another big change: He started preschool. In other words, he was exposed to LOTS OF GERMS on a regular basis. I’m sure this worked his immune system. Thing is, kids usually get sick a lot when they first start preschool or day care. Not mine. Barely a sniffle, I tell ya. There was ONE day in the fall when I kept him home from school, but not because he wasn’t well enough to go, but because I was concerned his very mild cold would give another child a bad cold. The rest of the fall/winter/early spring? Nothing I could really call “sick.” There were times I thought he caught something but he would fight it off before it turned into anything. What a dramatic difference!

Some goes for me. While I only got sick a few times the previous winter, this last winter I never got sick, with one exception–when I was detoxing on GAPS intro, which is totally normal. And that wasn’t even bad. I felt myself “catch” something several times, but I kicked each virus to the curb before I could get sick. It was freakin’ amazing. I stopped fearing germs. I stopped using the sanitary wipes at the store for the shopping cart handles. I didn’t worry so much what my boy was exposed to, either. Started forgetting to wash his hands after school and church (I don’t actually recommend that, by the way–we’re probably lucky he never caught anything nasty).

I did do some different things for myself. I’ve been taking a lot of supplements to support my health. I have been taking the cod liver oil, too, of course, but other ones as well, focusing on gut, kidney, and liver health. I’ve started eating oysters and liver–but only recently. I made it through most of the winter without them. I’ve been even cleaner about my diet than my little boy. Oh, did I mention we both also eat a ton of animal fat? Lots and lots of fat. I’m positive that’s helped, too.

It was great to never have to bring out the humidifier all winter (or clean it). It was great to never be down and out. One time I actually caught a stomach bug. Little boy did, too, but it barely showed. I knew I had it because of my bowel movements, but it didn’t keep me down at all. In fact, it was right before Christmas and I think I did about seven hours of shopping that day, feeling fine the whole time. A few days later, hubby came down with it, and he was messed up. Had to stay home from work, which he hates doing. Have I mentioned he doesn’t eat the same way Little Boy and I do? He got sick maybe another two times. He used to be the healthiest out the three of us…

Honestly, I’m just amazed at how quickly health can turn around.


2 thoughts on “A Winter Without Illness

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