Fire-Up Your Kids’ Immune System for Back-To-School Health!
Every year when my son started back to school, I would think back on the previous year and how so many of his classmates suffered multiple colds and bouts with the flu. Even though my son was exposed to the same environment as his classmates, he RARELY “caught” the cold or “came down” with the flu. Why is that? Could eating the right food, staying hydrated, and taking the right supplements such as probiotics boost his immune system to keep him healthy? I think so! Read on to find out why.
A solid immune system starts here:
- Be sure your child develops the habit to hydrate, starting first thing in the morning, knowing that we all wake up a bit dehydrated. Being well hydrated is step one for a healthy immune system, including providing a moist mucosa which is ideal for fending off bad bugs while allowing healthy good-for-you bugs to flourish.
- Sugar depresses the immune system, so keep sugar intake moderate, starting with a smart breakfast. This can include cereal, as long as it’s low in sugar and high in fiber. Next, eliminate sweetened beverages and keep sweet treats to no more than two small servings a day.
- Teach kids to include a fruit or vegetable at every meal or snack (to bathe their cells in beneficial vitamins, minerals and antioxidants).
- Similar to sugar, too many processed foods such as high-sodium processed meat and products with refined flour are equally disruptive to the immune system. Keep these from becoming daily staples in your child’s diet by not having them in the fridge or pantry.
- Provide enough protein, balanced throughout the day. For most of us, this isn’t a problem; however, some children, elderly and vegetarians need to make an extra effort to be sure it’s not all at one meal. Keep in mind that only need 5-7 ounces of fish, chicken, egg, cheese, beans, nuts or tofu are needed each day.
- Eat fish at least twice a week or take fish oil supplements to get enough beneficial omega 3 fatty acids.
- Just as kids plug in their phones at night to recharge, remind them that they themselves want to get recharged “all the way to 100%” by getting at least 8 if not more hours of sleep. Do not underestimate how HUGE this is!
- Exercise one hour a day (proven more effective than supplemental vitamin C).
- Teach kids to wash their hands frequently with soap and water. And use a paper towel to grab the door handle on the way out of public restrooms!
Next, consider these supplements
- Kids are notorious for needing a little “dietary insurance.” I suggest a multi-vitamin supplement, which includes vitamins C and D.
- The microbiome of the gut is a key driver of the immune system. A probiotic may be needed to re-fortify “belly buddies” that can be inadvertently killed off by common antibiotics. While eating yogurt with live active cultures is a great habit for routine health, after a round of antibiotics, a probiotic supplement is most probably warranted. Learn more here.