The kids are back in school, so the runny noses, RSV, mysterious rashes, and stomach bugs will quickly follow. While I can’t completely prevent my kids from getting sick, I do know that certain foods help to boost their immune systems. Here’s what’s on my shopping list right now and why:

Baobab powder

The baobab tree is also known as “the tree of life.” It is well known in many African cultures. The bark, fruit, and leaves of the baobab have been used as a natural remedy for a variety of illnesses and ailments for centuries. Baobab fruit has 10 times the fiber of apples, six times the vitamin C of oranges, two times the antioxidants of acai berries, two times the calcium of milk, four times the potassium of bananas, and five times the magnesium of avocados. I buy the powder and fold it into oatmeal, yogurt, and smoothies. The fruit powder is tangy and sweet. Here’s a great recipe for baobab muffins.


Black elderberries have traditionally been used for immune support. In folk medicine, the elderberry is considered one of the best plants for healing. Elderberries are high in vitamin C (52.2 milligrams per cup) and dietary fiber (10.2 grams per cup). One cup of elderberries also has 26.7 grams of carbs, 0.7 grams of fat, and 1 gram of protein. Elderberry is an antioxidant, and researchers think the compound that makes it blue lowers inflammation. I boil dried elderberries and mix with agave for an occasional “juice” for my kids. Check out this recipe for homemade elderberry syrup.

Yacon syrup

A healthy gut helps our kids develop strong immune systems, healthy hearts and brains, better moods, healthy sleep, and effective digestion. For those reasons, prebiotics and probiotics play a significant role in building good gut bacteria. Yacon root comes from the Andean Mountains of South America. Yacon root contains prebiotics that aren’t digested in the small intestine but travel to the large intestine, where they can improve your gut microflora by acting as a food source for good bacteria. I substitute all sugar in any recipes I follow for yacon syrup. Here’s a great pumpkin muffin recipe that uses yacon syrup as the sweetener.

Kids are germ magnets, and once they get sick, the whole house is pretty much guaranteed to get sick. For those reasons, I look to nature for any and all foods that can provide some much-needed protection from the yuckies that are sure to start coming home with my kids now that they are back in school.

Tracy Skelly
Tracy was born and raised in Southern California. In 2009, she relocated to Massachusetts for a master’s program and, for the first time, learned the real meaning of “cold.” With plans to move back home after earning her degree, she foolishly accepted an invitation to dinner from a handsome stranger. He swept her off her feet, and she never made it back to California. Tracy and her husband live in Boston with their daughter, Sophia. Tracy has spent the last 10 years working in operations and business development. She’s an active member of her church community. Her work within the church is focused on local missions — food security, education, homelessness, family care services, and nutrition and health services (something Tracy is particularly passionate about). Recently, Tracy started a small business. The Little Cocoa Bean Company is a social enterprise focused on baby and toddler nutrition. When she’s not working or mom-ing, you can usually find Tracy in her garden. Loves: baby snuggles, plants, musicals, her husband’s laugh, Black art, island vacations, gospel music, big windows, and snow storms Dislikes: weeds, scary movies, chunks in ice cream, laundry, and Mondays