All the excitement of back-to-school can also cause some stress. Changes in schedule, being exposed to more people and more germs, and the change in season can tax the immune system.
We all want our kids to stay healthy throughout the year, right? It’s no fun to have a sick kid at home so anything we can do to avoid illness is a good thing. So what can we do to keep our kids virus-free? Turns out that there is a lot you can do from home.
In Chinese Medicine, the end of summer marks an important seasonal change. Just before kids head back to school, the ‘Late Summer’ season begins, the season associated with harvest, the earth element, and the digestive system.
This is a great time to focus on boosting your child’s immunity, especially by focusing on diet. If you’re not already an expert with real, traditional foods, be sure to read this post to brush up on real food basics.
With the right diet, only minimal supplements should be necessary as an immune boost for kids. Here’s what I do for mine…
Eat the right foods. When you have a cold, you probably drink orange juice, right? We all know that Vitamin C is a natural immunity booster, but did you know that garlic & omega-3 fatty acids are as well? Both are known to increase production of white blood cells- the ones that fight infection.
Get some sleep. Toddlers should get 12-13 hours of sleep per day, whether that’s just overnight or including a nap. Sleep is important because when your body isn’t as rested as it should be, it becomes more susceptible to getting sick.
Take your vitamins! My focus remains on food so my kids aren’t on supplements 12 months a year but before I sent them back to school in September I do like supplementing to boost the immune system. I prefer nature way.
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Lower sugar intake. I know first hand how hard this is to do with a picky child who only wants to eat sugary snacks, but sugar can actually cut the effectiveness of the immune system by half. So even if you’re making sure your little one eats lots of fruits & veggies, sleeps 12 hours & takes a supplement, if they are loading up on sugar all day they still have a compromised immune system.
Get Outside! Not only does being outside usually equate to exercise, which is a huge way to make our bodies healthy in general, but Vitamin D is a great immunity booster, and is created by our skin cells when we are in the sun. Not only does Vitamin D build the body’s ability to fight common infections like the cold & flu, but it also helps protect against depression, insomnia, and even heart diseases & cancer- so take some time in the sun for yourself, too!
Get Dirty! I try not to be a germaphobe, beyond making the obvious good choices, like teaching him to sneeze into a tissue & throw it away immediately and using disinfecting wipes when we’re out & about and can’t get to a sink to wash & dry our hands. Evidence suggests that you can have not enough exposure to germs, which can cause your immune system to under-develop & actually make you get sick more often.
These are immune system building tips that can help anyone’s immunity- not just your child’s. They may seem like common sense but if your child gets sick a lot, really think about it- are they lacking one of these essential parts of the puzzle?
Don’t forget the basics…
Besides a healthy diet and some herbs and supplements, what else can you do to help with an immune boost for kids at the back-to-school time? May seem obvious, but make sure your child…
- Sleeps – To build immunity naturally, set a healthy bedtime and incorporate an evening routine to make nighttime smooth and easy.
- Drinks water when thirsty.
- Exercises regularly to stimulate cleansing and the release of natural stress-reducing hormones.
- Spends time outdoors, taking in plenty of fresh air and Vitamin D from sunshine.