“I get really upset when my kids get sick because I feel like I’ve failed them,” says Lisa. “My 2-year-old, he had a runny nose for three weeks. I was miserable just trying to make sure he was OK. He survived, but I was a wreck.”
“My wife’s a bit of a germaphobe,” says Lisa’s husband, Michael. “You’re going to catch a cold, you’re going to stub your toe, and that’s just life.”
Lisa points out bottles of hand sanitizer placed around her house, and describes her children’s vitamin regimen, which includes chewable viamins, garlic pills, vitamin C, whole foods plus aniti-oxidants and more.
“Lisa makes the kids use hand-sanitizer about 15 to 20 times a day,” Michael reveals.
She takes other precautions as well. “I’m actually going to take Finn to a chiropractor, because I’ve heard that that helps too,” she says. “There are places we don’t go because I want to avoid the germs. I don’t like to leave the house more than I have to. I like to stay and keep the baby safe, and keep the germs at bay.”
Lisa has a lot of questions for the Sears doctors, including, “Is it OK for kids to get sick? Does it strengthen their immune system? Are there special foods that can help them? Is there a link between diet and their immune system? Am I acting normal?”
Dr. Phil says, “My definition of normal is really very pragmatic. My definition of normal is does it disrupt your life? Does it get in the way? You know, something is normal if it flows with your life. Something is not normal if it creates pain, problems, discomfort for you. And if it is, therefore, abnormal and a problem, and you pass that on to the kids, that would be a problem, right? So you would want to examine this on your own to see whether this is reasonable.” He turns to Michael. “Do you think she’s a little oversensitive about this?”
“Yes, yes I do,” he replies.
“Especially since the fourth baby’s been born,” Lisa adds. “I’ve been just horrified of him getting sick, and he actually did get a stuffy nose, once.” Dr. Phil makes a horrified face. “I know. I was crying and upset,” she says.
“Well, I’ll alert the media,” Dr. Phil says with mock gravity. “A child has a stuffy nose. Film at 11:00.” Next, he introduces another member of the Sears family, Dr. Jim Sears to address Lisa’s questions. “Does it strengthen their immune systems to get sick? Let’s start there,” he says.
“There’s not a simple answer to that, unfortunately,” says Dr. Jim Sears. “Getting sick every two weeks is not healthy, OK? Having a strong immune system because you have a good diet, you’re eating a lot of fish, a lot of fruits and vegetables, taking an Omega 3 supplement, maybe. Exercising is super important. Having a strong immune system from the inside is important, and then when you get sick, every couple of months ” it’s not going to kill them ” that will help them. It gives their immune system exercise.”
Kids get an average of eight to 10 colds a year, though Lisa says her family never gets close to that number.
“So, you’re doing great!” says Dr. Sears.
“I think, Jim, what you were saying,” says Dr. Phil, “one of the key things was don’t stress about it because you make them fearful of the world if you do that. Pretty soon you’ve got a germ phobic, and they walk up to a doorknob, and they stand there like, ‘I don’t want to touch it.’ And then that is disruptive to their life. How do you do on the nutritional front?”
“I think we do pretty well,” says Lisa. “We don’t eat many fried foods. We don’t do fast food much at all.”
“One of the things you mentioned when we spoke earlier, reducing sugar. That’s huge because eating sugar reduces the immunity. One of my busiest weeks in the office is the week after Halloween.”
“Fruits, vegetables, fish,” adds Dr. William Sears. “The three big immune boosters. And you’ve got this whole pharmacy all around of pills! Half of those you can just throw away.”
“What do you think about these garlic pills?” asks Dr. Phil.
“Garlic is fine, because garlic does boost the immune system,” says Dr. William Sears.
Dr. Phil asks about the anti-bacterial wipes that Lisa is so fond of.
“Right, those are great,” says Dr. Jim Sears. “What’s really best is just soap and water. Hot water with soap. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. I like to tell my kids to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice in their head while they’re washing their hands. It makes it a fun game.”
“You have them sing it to themselves,” Dr. Phil clarifies. “Yeah, because they’re going to get beaten up a lot if they’re doing that, like, at school.”