I spent most of the week before Christmas totally floored by mum flu! It couldn’t have come at a worse time, as hubby had to work…  

I don’t do low level coughs and colds that last all winter, and I don’t get properly sick very often. When I do though, it completely wipes me out. Not very helpful with three lively home educated children to look after.  

Almost everyone else in my little family had been under the weather for the two weeks before I got sick. Freddy had literally spent days coughing in my face, so it wasn’t a surprise when my head started feeling fuzzy. Having been stone cold sober for weeks I knew it wasn’t drinking related, and went to bed that night fully prepared to wake up feeling rubbish.

Truth be told I wasn’t banking on being hit square in the eye with mum flu, but that’s what happened. Here’s what I did to ensure a super speedy recovery, just in case any of you lovely lot are feeling it now.

Don’t be a martyr, you need bed rest

mum fluTop of the list of things that will get you back on your feet, is proper rest. Now I know that as a busy mum, you don’t want to hear that. Especially not on the run up to Christmas / a birthday / a holiday / busy time at work. BUT, if you don’t get adequate sleep you will prolong your illness. It really is as simple as that. Plus if you have full blown mum flu, chances are you also have a forty degree temperature and horrible fever. You’re probably shivering under a hoodie, blanket and duvet, and your arms and legs more than likely feel broken.

You couldn’t soldier on even if you wanted to. So go to bed, and let anyone and everyone do everything else. The world will not stop turning, I promise. Proper rest is the only thing that will get you back to functioning. I was fortunate that I came down with mum flu on a Saturday evening, so had all day Sunday for hubby to take the parenting reins. After that though, it was business as usual with my three. Which is where all the things listed below came into play. 

Probiotics for your gut

Those who have been following me for a while will know that I am all about the gut health. New followers will learn this pretty quickly (you can read this for more info). Hippocrates said that all disease begins in the gut, and I firmly believe this to be true. I currently drink around one litre of home made water kefir every day, but when I was ill I was drinking at least two litres, and also supplementing with a potent multi-strain probiotic.

I will do everything in my power to avoid antibiotics, and I view probiotics as the ANTI antibiotics. They replenish your gut with healthy flora, rather than wipe out the good along with the bad (which is what antibiotics do). Obviously if I had a severe infection and needed antibiotics, then I would of course take them. In most cases though, mum flu isn’t a serious infection, it is your body’s way of telling you to slow down.               

Turmeric to help with inflammation

mum fluInflammation is the way the body responds to viruses, which is why it can be impossible to move when we have the flu. Also, if the lungs become inflamed it can lead to breathing problems and phlegmy coughs. Turmeric is a natural way of combatting inflammation and I’m a huge fan of the stuff. For details on the ridiculous number of health benefits to be had from it, read this comprehensive post from the fabulous Dr. Josh Axe.

I made a tonic at the beginning of the year by fermenting 500g of organic turmeric with cider vinegar (probiotic, anti-inflammatory) and some cold pressed honey (natural antibiotic). It’s not a nice taste, but my word is it potent. I would highly recommend making your own tonic, so you have it on hand for emergencies.      

Vitamin C to help quash your cold

Vitamin C is vital for body tissues to repair themselves. When it comes to getting the immune system back to fully functioning after being sick, or healing wounds, the more the merrier. My wonderful neighbour sent over an elderberry based tincture for me, which was very kind of her. It tasted disgusting, but as my lovely 8yo Polly said:

“Mummy, all medicine that gets you better tastes horrible.”

She has a very good point, and herbal tinctures never taste nice, but they are amazing when it comes to healing. Elderberry, which are the tiny little black berries which come out late summer after all the buttery elder flowers disappear, are exceptionally high in vitamin c. These trees are plentiful where I live, and next year I plan to pick a load of berries when they are at their best, and freeze them for times like this.

Any other immune boosting supplements you can get your hands on

Two years ago I started making what I call wellness bombs, which are home made organic vitamin capsules. The shell is pure gelatin, and inside is an even mix of turmeric, dried rosehip and dried amla fruit – which are both high in vitamin c. Here’s a little video I did with the kids, to show how easy they are to make.

What are your best natural healing tips? Tweet me @mummytries 

Gut Health: 3 Low Cost Ways to Get Probiotics in Your LifeWhen I first embarked on the GAPS Diet in 2014, gut health was still considered a little bit woo. Nowadays it’s becoming mainstream, and was recently discussed on the BBC program Trust Me I’m A Doctor. On the show, home fermented foods came out winning as a method of promoting gut health.

Why you might ask?

Fermented foods are rich in probiotic bacteria (also known as good bacteria or beneficial bacteria). A lack of good bacteria is said to be the root cause of many autoimmune conditions, and when we eat fermented foods we add these good bacteria to our intestinal flora. This increases our gut health, which in turn increases the health of our digestive system and boosts our immune system.

Fermented foods are also easier to digest than regular food, as a lot of the work has already been done for us in the fermentation process.

Whilst taking probiotic supplementation is the most convenient way of promoting gut health, there’s no denying that quality supplements cost a small fortune. Low cost supplements are pointless taking, and yield little value if any to our gut. Home fermented food and drinks are the very best – and most cost effective way – of getting probiotics into our lives. Here are three easy wins for you to get your gut health on track without it breaking the bank!

Kefir

Kefir is a fermented drink, and is one of the most powerful natural sources of probiotics we have readily available. In a nutshell kefir grains are little live strains of good bacteria and yeast, and are exceptionally good for us. Note: they are not an actual grain, as in wheat, but are referred to as grains.

You can ferment kefir in water or milk. Perhaps because of my long standing issues with dairy, I find the milk kefir too potent. It bloats me, whereas I tolerate water kefir just beautifully. I swapped out my probiotic supplements for water kefir about a year ago, and have continued feeling the benefits.

Check out the video below for a full tutorial, and Q&A session on the benefits of water kefir. Click here to buy quality low cost grains.

Sauerkraut

3 Cost Effective Ways to Get Your Gut Health on TrackOnce fermented, cabbage is a fabulous source of probiotics. Although tasty, most commercially made sauerkraut has been pasteurized, which destroys the good bacteria. Home fermented sauerkraut is a delicious and simple way of adding probiotic goodness to your diet. 

Making it for the first time can be a little daunting, but once you get into the swing of fermenting your own foods it won’t take up too much of your time.

Ingredients (to fit into a 500ml jar)
300g cabbage
3 carrots
1.5 tbsp sea salt
Sterilised glass jar

Method
– finely slice (shred) your cabbage and grate your carrots, then put everything into a large bowl and sprinkle over the salt
note: you can leave out the carrot, and bump the cabbage up to 500g if you’d prefer 

– cover with a loosely fitting plate or a tea towel, and leave in a warm place overnight (as you would with home made bread). By morning your veg will have wilted down to about half and the salt will have naturally drawn out a lot of the probiotic juices. It will also kick start the fermentation process

– pack the veg tightly into your sterilised jar, and cover with the juice at the bottom of the bowl. Top up with a little water if needs be, to ensure the veg is completely covered. It is imperative that you don’t leave any space for air to get into the jar. Put the lid on loosely 

– leave to ferment on your kitchen side for 3-5 days, depending on how hot it is. Check daily to ensure that there is still no air getting into the jar, and there is no pressure building up 

– once it’s ready store in the fridge, and serve with savoury dishes 

Yoghurt

3 Cost Effective Ways to Get Your Gut Health on TrackCommercially made yoghurt is widely available, but again it’s never going to be as good for you as home made. I’ve been making my own out of a mixture of goat milk and goat double cream for a few years now, and the whole family adores it.

I’ve never gotten around to posting a tutorial, however my lovely friend Vicki who writes the Free From Fairy has done. 

Check out Vicki’s comprehensive yogurt tutorial here.

For my recipe, substitute the 600ml of double cream for 775ml whole goat milk, and a 125ml goat double cream. The rest of the process stays exactly the same.

Happy fermenting ❤