It is winter at the farm. My niece, visiting from Germany, is busy building snowmen, sledding from our self-created “snow mountain” and enjoying every single snowflake. Back inside in the warm house, she’s clever to not warm up with sweet hot cocoa, but instead with warm fruit teas made of many berries. Of course she enjoys sweet treats as well, but by limiting sugar intake, she boosts her immune system.

Did you know that you weaken your child’s immune system temporarily by 40% with every pop or the equivalent of 8 tsp of sugar? Sugar depletes important vitamins and minerals needed for immune function, especially vitamin C. No wonder we get sick with the cold or flu so easily during a time when we eat a lot of sugary food e.g. around Christmas or other cultural holidays.

Refined sugar wasn’t always so easily available, yet many people had a sweet tooth even decades and centuries ago. They satisfied their cravings with the consumption of berries, fruit, e.g. dates, grapes, apples, bananas, pineapples, etc. and even root vegetables like carrots and beets. Even adding cinnamon by itself can be very satisfying.  

While regular consumption of refined sugar can lead to diabetes (the currently second most frequent chronic disease in North America), as well as chronic fatigue, obesity and tooth decay, the regular consumption of berries - while also sweet - have much less impact on blood sugar, but due to their high level of antioxidants protect our eyesight, our cardiovascular system and boost our energy. 

By replacing sugary snacks like candy, pop, or donuts with berries, fruit, and carrots, you’ll keep your family healthy during the cold and flu season as well as protect them of chronic disease.

Introduced little by little, you’ll soon see that fruit (fresh, dried or frozen) and roots will be more satisfying than the quick “sugar fixes”. 

If, however, you get a cold or flu meanwhile, here’s a super easy recipe to try:


Elderberry Syrup


2 cups fresh elderberries (or 1 cup dried elderberries - usually available at your local health food store), 2 cups water, 1 cup honey

  1. Add the elderberries and water to a small saucepan. Bring them to a gentle simmer for 30 minutes. 
  2. Strain well using a cheesecloth to really squeeze out the juice. 
  3. Measure the remaining liquid. Add an equal amount of honey in order to preserve the mixture. If using less honey, it will spoil more quickly.
  4. Store the syrup in the refrigerator.

Dosage: Adults take 1-3 tablespoons daily; children take 1-2 teaspoons daily 

Elderberry syrup can also be enjoyed as a drizzle on pancakes, ice cream, and other treats.

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