On Display Friday Feature: Dr. Sylvia Santos ND (Part 2)

I hope that you enjoyed reading our first blog post, and took the time to view our video tours.  In case you missed it, you can read part one of my On Display Friday Feature with Dr. Sylvia Santos, ND by clicking here.

Now without further ado, I would like to continue my interview with Dr. Santos: 

I would like to shift our conversation towards some of your advice for families and educators on how to keep our kids healthy. As you know with the colder temperatures many of them get sick, and when they aren’t feeling well they usually also spread the germs to us their primary caregivers!
Is there something that we can do to help prevent viruses?

There most definitely is!! I know it’s difficult as parents to see your kids suffering and not feeling their best, but don’t jump to conventional medications just yet. There are several things you can do to boost your child’s immune system and prevent the spread of those dreaded viruses and bacteria (the bad bacteria that is!!)

1. Get a good night sleep

During sleep our immune system is busy producing immune cells that help us to fight off the bugs that lead to colds and flu. With the change in sleep schedules at back-to-school time a lot of kids aren’t getting the sleep they need. School-aged children and teens need around 10 hours of sleep per night – so get them to bed on time!

2. Teach proper hand washing

Encourage your kids to wash their hands thoroughly several times per day. Most kids wash their hands for less than 10 seconds but it takes 20 seconds to effectively clean hands. Avoid using antibacterial soaps – most colds are caused by viruses, not bacteria. Regular soap is as effective at killing germs as antibacterial soap and doesn’t lead to the development of antibacterial-resistant bacteria strains.

3. Cover your cough properly!

As kids we were taught to cough or sneeze into our hands – but times have changed! When you cough or sneeze into your hand you then transmit viruses and bacteria to everything you touch – door knobs, stair rails, other people. Teach your kids to cough or sneeze into their elbow. It’s one of the most effective ways to stop the spread of germs.

4. Feed your immune system

Eating a diet rich in immune-boosting nutrients is one of the best ways to keep kids (and ourselves) healthy during back-to-school. Orange, red, yellow and dark-green fruits and vegetables contain vitamin C, beta carotene and other antioxidants and phytonutrients necessary for proper function of our immune system. Beans, lean meats and whole grains are a source of zinc, which is necessary for growth and immune function.

5. Skip the sweets

Refined sugars – found in candies, cakes, muffins, chocolates and sweetened beverages – decreases the function of your immune system for up to six hours after eating it. That’s a whole day of school! So skip the sugary school snacks and encourage your kids to eat fruits, vegetables and healthy snacks instead.

6. Take your vitamin D

If you live in Canada you need to take a vitamin D supplement through the fall and winter. All of us – mothers, fathers, grandparents and kids need to take our vitamin D. In

Canada we don’t get enough sunlight between October and April to make vitamin D, resulting in widespread deficiency. And since we need vitamin D to make antimicrobial peptides – our body’s natural antibiotics – it is no surprise that cold and flu season starts just as our vitamin D levels fall. Doses are based on body weight – around 800IU for children and around 2000IU for adults.

7. Battle bad bugs with good ones

Probiotics are good bacteria that live in our digestive tracts but they are good for more than healthy digestion. Research shows that probiotics improve the function of the immune system by decreasing numbers of bad bacteria, enhancing function of immune cells and strengthens the mucosal lining of our gut. Adults and children who take probiotics take less sick days and children have fewer incidences of ear infections, strep throat and colds.

8. Treat a cold early

When your kids come home with the first signs of a cold or flu, don’t hesitate to start treating them before it gets worse! There are a wide variety of herbal medicines, nutrients and supplements that are fantastic for boosting your child’s immune system at the first sign of sickness. Elderberry, vitamin C, Echinacea, goldenseal, astragalus – and many other – options are available through your Naturopathic Doctor.

9. Stay hydrated

Drinking water and clear fluids keeps you hydrated and prevents viruses and bacteria from adhering to the lining of your nose and throat. During back-to-school season I also suggest parents, kids and teachers drink herbal teas to enhance their immune function.

10. Warming socks (or what I like to call “Magic Socks”)

A technique used to treat the common cold, influenza, sore throats, sinus infections, upper respiratory tract infections, headaches, head and chest congestion.

The treatment works by stimulating the body’s natural defences. Warming socks is a type of “heating compress” – a hydrotherapy technique that causes the body to increase blood circulation in order to heat up the cold, wet socks.

How to do Warming Socks (“Magic Socks”)

  • One pair of thin cotton socks
  • One pair of thick wool socks
  • Sink or bucket filled with very cold (or iced) water
  • Tub or bucket filled with very warm water
  • A warm bed

Step 1: Get ready for bed

Step 2: Put cotton socks in a sink of very cold, or iced, water. Soak for a minute to saturate the socks then wring them out so that they do not drip.

Step 3: Place your bare feet into a tub or bucket of very warm water.

Soak your feet as long as you want, but make sure the water stays warm and so do your feet.

Step 4: Dry your feet with a towel and put the wet cotton socks on your feet.

Step 5: Immediately pull the dry wool socks over the wet socks. You want the wool socks to completely cover the cotton socks.

Step 6: Go to bed right away. Make sure your feet stay warm.

In the morning your feet will be warm and dry. Symptoms of your cold and head or chest congestion will be diminished or gone.

Repeat the warming socks treatment for three nights in a row. It can be used on adults and children but people with chronic conditions or compromised immune systems should consult with a Naturopathic Doctor before starting the warming socks treatment.

Do you have any advice specifically about diet? I noticed that if my own children even have a small amount of sugar from a cookie their behaviour changes. What types of foods do you encourage our little people to be consuming at this important time for their growing bodies and minds?

This is a great question and one that I could probably go on and on about. But if I had to narrow it down to 2, I would say good fats and healthy, lean proteins.

Good fats include nuts and seeds, avocado, fish oil (supplementation), fatty fish like salmon, anchovies, sardines, coconut oil, coconut chips, olives, olive oil and even flax seeds which are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids. Not only do good fats keep us fuller for longer and balance out our blood sugar levels, but they are also a great way to keep our brain and minds healthy due to the fatty acid components.

Fatty acids are essential dietary nutrients, and one of their important roles is providing docosahexaenoic acid (also known as DHA) for growth and function of nervous tissue. Reduced DHA is associated with impairments in cognitive and behavioral performance, effects which are particularly important during brain development.

You probably know you need to eat protein, but what is it? Many foods contain protein, but the best sources are grass fed beef, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, nuts, seeds, and legumes like black beans and lentils.

Protein builds, maintains, and replaces the tissues in your body. Your muscles, your organs, and your immune system are made up mostly of protein. Protein also contains amino acids, needed to make several hormones and neurotransmitters which keep our bodies functioning and contributes to a balanced mood. Generally, it's recommended that for every kg of body weight, 0.8 grams of protein is ingested. If you are vegetarian or vegan, this recommended intake increases to 1 or 1.2 grams of protein per every kg of body weight, respectively. 

I hope you find this blog post helpful and I encourage you to incorporate more wellness in your life and the lives of your family.

We welcome you at NatCan Integrative Medical & Wellness Centre.

In health,

Dr. Sylvia Santos MBS, ND
Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine

Clinic Director & Owner

NatCan Integrative Medical & Wellness Centre

416-400-NAT0 (6280)

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The advice provided in this blog is for informational purposes only. It is meant to augment and not replace consultation with a licensed health care provider. Consultation with a Naturopathic Doctor or other primary care provider is recommended for anyone suffering from a health problem.





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Dombro, Amy Laura, Laura J. Colker and Diane Trister Dodge. 1997. The Creative Curriculum for Infants and Toddlers. Washington, DC: Teaching Strategies, Inc.

Gilkerson, Linda. May 1998. "Brain care: Supporting healthy emotional development." Child Care Information Exchange: 66-68.

Healthy Child Care America. January 1999. Early brain development and child care. American Academy of Pediatrics.

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University of Pittsburgh, Office of Child Development. Spring, 1998. "Brain development: The role experience plays in shaping the lives of children." Children, Youth, and Family Background, Report 12.Pittsburgh: University Center for Social and Urban Research.

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Thank you again Dr. Sylvia Santos for being my first On Display Friday Feature and for all of these beautiful photographs! It feels great writing these kinds of posts on the blog again.  I have the privilege of learning and sharing what I experience or wonder about with others, which spreads it to a wider audience. 

I look forward to more collaborations in the future!  As I wrote on Instagram, if you think you have an interesting and relevant space for me to visit and wouldn't mind a quick interview for my blog, send me an email! I will likely share once or twice a month starting again in the New Year.  In the past I visited classrooms, private schools, daycare centres, art exhibits, conferences, or any child related venues/experiences, etc.  I also sat down with some incredible authors or individuals who invented products/services for teachers, ECEs, parents, and children.

To view my former On Display archive index click here.

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