Kids are kids, they play with friends, go to schools, participate in activities- all exposing them to germs. If your child has a weakened immune system they may get sick.
There are several commonsense measures to boost your child’s immune system and help prevent the cold/flu, which most of you are likely already doing. But just as a reminder:
An apple-a-day keeps the doctor away! Eat lots of colorful fruits and vegetables. They are full of antioxidants which will destroy the free radicals that weaken our immune system and are responsible for making us feel sick when we catch a bug. Each color provides different antioxidant power; so be sure to eat a rainbow everyday!
Wash those hands frequently, especially before eating or touching your face. Do your best to keep those little fingers out of mouths and noses!
Stay well-hydrated. Stick to water, coconut water, herbal teas, and bone broth. No soda or sugary drinks, please! What’s a good estimate for how much water you need at a minimum? Divide your body weight in half and drink that number in ounces! Do you come close?
Eat fermented foods. The probiotics contained in fermented foods have tremendous immune boosting powers. In fact, the fermented Korean cabbage, kimchi, was found to have significant effects in preventing and fighting the H1N1 influenza virus! Here are other examples of yummy fermented foods to try sauerkraut, pickles (try “real” pickles without added vinegar like Bubbies), miso (who doesn’t like miso soup? Make it with homemade bone broth for an even more powerful immune punch!), kefir (a delicious yogurt-like drink that can be made with coconut if you are dairy-intolerant), and kombucha (a tangy fermented tea (my personal favorite is GT’s Guava Goddess).
Avoid simple sugars and processed/junk food. Did you know that your blood shows lab evidence of a lowered immune system within 30 minutes of eating simple sugars (like glucose, refined sugar, and fructose), and causes a 50% reduction in your white blood cells abilities to kill germs? White blood cells are our “army” cells that fight off germs. This effect is most noticeable 2 hours after ingestion, but is still present 5 hours later! Maybe that’s why your child always seems to get sick after those birthday parties full of birthday cake, juice and soda. On the other hand, keeping blood sugar levels healthy has been shown to improve immune system activity. Check out some of our healthy snack options.
Get fresh air and moderate daily exercise. Moderate exercise can boost the production of macrophages, the kind of white blood cells that “eat” bacteria and viruses. However, intense exercise can actually temporarily decrease immune function; so don’t overdo it!
Get adequate sleep. An increase in sleep actually increases the number of your white blood cells. On the other hand, loss of sleep even for a few hours at night, increases inflammation in our body which makes us more susceptible to catching the flu and having more severe symptoms. So make sure your whole family is getting enough zzzz’s. Check our our partner page sleep center for additional tips.
Minimize stress. Emotional stress creates physiological stress in our bodies that lowers our immune defenses and makes us more vulnerable to illness. Stress has been shown to lower our white blood cells? abilities to kill germs, and actually creates more inflammation that may make us feel even sicker. No, it’s not just in your head! For guidance on how to help manage your child’s stress naturally, take a look at “Back-to-School, Back to STRESS!” for some great tips.
by Cari Woodall