Author: Angela Warm, Health and Nutrition Editor
Depending on where you live, you may or may not have kids heading back to school this month. Regardless if they are headed back in the traditional sense or doing virtual learning, it’s important to follow a few easy steps to keep your kids healthy and safe.
You hear quite a bit of talk about your immune system these days. Think of it like protective body armor, that keeps the outside threats from entering your body. We tend to not pay much attention to the armor until something penetrates through a crack and become sick. We then realize how much we depend on this shield to keep our body healthy. Keeping your armor, aka immune system strong and free of cracks is critical to keeping your kids (and you) healthy this season.
By embracing natural immune boosting behaviors and foods that support your health, you can keep that protective layer shiny and strong. Read on for tips on how to keep your kids armor working in tip top shape. as they head back to school.
A is for Apple
One of the easiest ways to keep your immune system strong is by eating a healthy, balanced diet. Foods that are low in nutrition such as processed foods and sugar often end up replacing the healthier foods that are needed to strengthen the immune system. Replacing these items with a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains can go far in keeping the germs and viruses at bay.
Sugar negatively impacts your body’s ability to fight off viruses and other infections in the body. It also leads to an imbalance in the gut, which is the source of a healthy immune system. Too much sugar is one of the reasons kids tend to get sick. And since kids tend to gravitate toward sugar laced snacks, keep healthier options on hand like greek yogurt, healthy muffins or veggie sticks. By having them readily available, you are less likely to give into their demands. Click here are some kid friendly snack options.
- Start their day with a protein rich breakfast like scrambled eggs with spinach, protein rich oatmeal or chia pudding.
- Skip sugary calorie dense drinks and stick to fruit flavored water or decaffeinated fruit teas
- Sneak in some veggies like carrots or zucchini into healthy muffins.
- Make a game of eating raw veggie sticks like carrots and peppers. Have them make shapes with their sticks or see who can create the loudest crunch sound (carrots are good for this trick).
- Have your kids help prepare meals. Setting the table, peeling the veggies or even doing some of the cooking. Kids tend to like foods they help make themselves.
Make sure you are incorporating the rainbow of fruits, vegetables and healthy proteins in your kids diets.
IMMUNE-BOOSTING NUTRIENTS TO INCLUDE:
- Vitamin C: Red and yellow peppers, dark leafy greens, kiwi, broccoli, strawberries, and citrus fruits
- Vitamin E: Almonds, roasted sunflower seeds, avocados, and plant oils
- Zinc: Oysters, beef, fortified breakfast cereal, cashews, chickpeas, and chicken
- Vitamin D: Salmon, tuna, tofu, fortified dairy products, eggs, cheese, and mushrooms
- Selenium: Brazil nuts, grains, oatmeal, fish, beef, poultry and eggs
- Beta Carotene: Carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squash, spinach, kale, cantaloupe, and apricots
- Protein: Seafood, poultry, meat, dairy, eggs, nuts, beans, lentils, and seeds
Recess is Best
Playing outdoors (where possible) is not only good for your child’s physical health, but good for their mental wellbeing as well. Studies have shown that kids need to spend anywhere from 1-3 hours outdoors daily for maximum immune supporting benefits. The combination of physical exercise, fresh air, and sunshine (Vitamin D) not only reduces stress, but keeps the body in tip top shape.
Daily exercise also helps regulate their hormones, which in turn regulates their moods and allows for a better night’s sleep. Sleep and exercise go hand in hand and are important aspects of boosting their immunity. Being well-rested and receiving adequate amounts of exercise can go a long way to helping your child stay healthy. If you can’t get outside, check out youtube for some fun exercise videos the whole family can do together.
Speaking of sleep, kids (and adults) thrive on a consistent sleep schedule. While we tend to burn the midnight oil, this isn’t so good for our kids. (News Flash: it isn’t so good for us adults either!). It’s not just about having well rested kids, sleep is critical to maintaining a healthy mind and body. A good night’s sleep is linked to doing better in school, improved immune function, healthier weight and better moods. Too little sleep is often associated with increased depression, poor social skills, frequent colds and more emotional outbursts.
Ways to make sure your kids get a good night’s sleep:
- Avoid electronics at least 1-2 hours before bed.
- Make sure the bedroom is cool, dark and quiet
- Go to sleep at the same time each night
- Avoid sugar and caffeine in the afternoon and evening
- Get plenty of exercise and natural sunlight during the day
- Have a wind down routine in the evening, i.e. bath or shower, read a book, calming essential oils.
Whatever form of classroom the new school year brings, make sure keeping your kids immune system strong is as important as learning their A, B, C’s. Boosting our natural defenses and preventing illness, especially during the current pandemic, is one way to make sure your family isn’t sidelined by the seasonal sniffles.
If you want your kids to be healthier, apply the above tips to the whole family. Be a good role model by washing your hands regularly, wearing a mask when necessary, preparing healthy foods and getting enough sleep yourself. This shows your kids how easy it is to stay healthy. Something that will not only benefit them this season, but in years to come.
Are you enjoying our content? We would love to hear your opinions in the comments sections. Stay tuned for more resources, our editorial panel is talking about – summer vacation ideas, mental health, nutrition, and wellness, back to school, recipes, and activities for children. Stay well and stay with us!
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