Hey there, folks! It’s that time of year again – you know, the time when we swap out our tank tops for comfy knits, embrace the return of Fall routines, and brace ourselves for the back-to-school madness. Ah, yes, and let’s not forget the not-so-welcome guests of the season: those inevitable colds and bugs that seem to find their way into our lives.
Now, before you go into full-on germaphobe mode, remember this: catching a cold or a seasonal bug isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, for the majority of us, especially the kiddos, it’s a vital part of keeping our immune systems in check. Our immune system is like a superhero squad, constantly communicating and patrolling our bodies for any viral or bacterial villains. When they spot trouble, they spring into action, thanks to their memory of previous encounters. A healthy immune system can usually tackle these invaders with ease, but it does need a little TLC to stay in top shape.
So, let’s dive into some easy-peasy ways to boost your child’s (and your own) immune system. You know, so when those pesky germs come knocking (and they will), your immune defenses are ready to throw down.
I will share with you a few ways to help strengthen your child’s immune system (and yours) so that when they do encounter these pesky germs, which they inevitably will, your immune systems will be prepared to handle them.
Quantity and Quality Sleep
First things first, sleep is your BFF when it comes to immune health. It’s like a spa day for your body, allowing it to repair and recharge. A solid night’s sleep pumps up your immune cells, helping them identify and combat any pathogens from your day. So, support your kids (and yourself) in catching those Zzz’s. You can read more strategies on better sleep here.
- Create a bedtime routine.
- Support natural melatonin production by turning off devices 90 minutes before bed.
- Make sure everyone gets their well-deserved downtime.
When the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline rise, the immune system’s response is lowered.
- Check in with your kids about their feelings and any worries they may have leading up to the return to school and group activities.
- Check in with them once things get going to see how they are settling; how friendships and other peer relationships are going, how they’re settling in with teachers and classmates, and so on.
- Encourage downtime; rest is critical to maintaining a healthy immune system.
- Encourage them to incorporate deep breathing throughout the day.
- Find time for good ol’ free play throughout the week.
Eat to fuel the body
Food is fuel for your immune system, so stock up on nutrient-rich whole foods. Dark leafy greens, colorful fruits and veggies, quality protein, and healthy fats are packed with vitamins and minerals that keep your immune system in tip-top shape. Skip the highly processed stuff; it’s like junk food for your immune system.
- Eat the rainbow to ensure you’re getting a diversity of vitamins and minerals.
- Include protein with each meal and snack – this gives the body the necessary building blocks for a healthy immune system.
- Eat as seasonably and local as you can.
- Get back to the kitchen and get the kids involved. Take a cooking class, explore Pinterest, go to the library and check out some new cookbooks, and have fun with it!
Here are some of the key nutrients needed that support the immune system and common foods they can be found in:
ACES + Zinc and Vitamin D
Certain vitamins and minerals are immune system superheroes. Vitamin A, C, E, Selenium, and Zinc (aka ACES + Zinc) are like the Avengers of immunity. Sweet potatoes, bell peppers, spinach, and more are packed with these goodies. Don’t forget about vitamin D; it activates immune cells and loves to soak up some sun. But when those rays are scarce, consider a good-quality vitamin D3 supplement (after checking your levels, of course).
|Vitamin A||Vitamin C||Vitamin E||Selenium||Zinc|
|Sweet Potato||Bell Peppers||Sunflower seeds||Brazil nuts||Grass-fed beef|
|Dark leafy greens||Oranges||Almonds||Whole Grains||Green peas|
There are also many foods like garlic, ginger, lemon, and raw honey that provide many immune supporting properties.
Sugar overload can weaken your immune system’s battle readiness. Instead of ultra processed foods and added sugar like those found in candy, crackers, cookies, fruit juices, and sugary drinks, opt for fresh fruit, vegetables, and water. Have pre-cut fruit and veggies ready and easily accessible for snacks.
Water is your body’s best friend. It delivers oxygen, nutrients, and flushes out toxins. Jazz up your hydration game with mint, cucumber, lemon, or berries for a refreshing twist.
Regular exercise keeps your immune system in fighting shape. It’s like a workout for your immune cells. Plus, it helps your lymphatic system (the infection-fighting fluid movers) do its thing. So, get those bodies moving with some daily activity.
Your gut is the epicenter of your immune system, housing over 70% of its troops. Probiotics (the good gut bacteria) and prebiotics (their favorite snacks) are essential. Stock up on kefir, yogurt, sauerkraut, and other probiotic-rich foods. Prebiotics are found in apples, sweet potatoes, onions, and more. So a healthful diet contains both.
- Probiotic rich food examples: kefir, kombucha, yogurt, sauerkraut, miso, apple cider vinegar, tempeh.
- Prebiotic rich food examples: apples, asparagus, banana, sweet potato, onions, garlic, leeks, dandelion root, chicory root, jicama
Whole foods are by far my favourite way to get the nutrients into our body, but I also understand that it may not always be possible. Supplements can have a place when it comes to supporting the overall health and immune system.
Here are some of my favourite Back to School Immune Support supplements, many of which can be found in my on-line dispensary, which means quick delivery to your door.
Probiotics – Genestra HMF Fit for School or Genuine Health Advanced Gut Health Probiotics for Kids
Kids Super Immunity – SUKU Vitamins
Omega-3 – NutraSea or Genuine Health Omega 3 for Kids
Multivitamin Vita-Kids– Douglas Labs
Herbal immune supports like St. Francis Herb Farm’s Deep Immune for Kids
If you do find that your little one is coming down with something like the common cold, here’s a tried and true practice we use in our home. You can read more about it here.
Also, here’s a delicious Immune Supporting Smoothie to try (serves 2):
1 cup Steamed Sweet Potato (or pure pumpkin puree)
1 Banana (frozen)
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
1 1/2 tsps Fresh Ginger (grated) (reduce to approx 3/4 tsp if using ground ginger)
1 tbsp Ground Flax Seed
3/4 cup Milk of choice
2 Navel Orange (peeled and sectioned with)
1 tbsp Raw Honey (or maple syrup)
Vanilla Protein Powder (optional – but makes it taste like a creamsicle)
Place all ingredients into your blender and blend very well until creamy.
Divide into glasses and enjoy!