With kids back to school and colder weather coming, that also means flu season is upon us! We are getting exposed to more germs and viruses every day, and kids are especially vulnerable. So what are some ways to boost our family’s immune system? We put together a list of some healthy habits you can adopt that will give your family’s immune system a boost.
SERVE MORE FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
Eat the rainbow! Think of all of the most colorful fruits and veggies, like bell peppers, berries, carrots, green beans, oranges. Fruits and veggies contain many immunity-boosting phytonutrients, such as vitamin C and carotenoids. You can increase the body’s production of infection-fighting white blood cells and interferon (an antibody that coats cell surfaces to block out viruses) with phytonutrients! Don’t forget to pack at least one fruit and veggie in your child’s lunchbox, and serve a different veggie with dinner. Fruits, paired with a protein and healthy fat, make excellent after school snacks.
MAKE SLEEP A PRIORITY
Did you know that lack of sleep can make you more susceptible to illness? Children in daycare are especially at risk for sleep deprivation because all of the activity can make it difficult for them to nap. Toddlers need 12-13 hours of sleep, and preschoolers and elementary kids should aim for at least 10 hours of sleep. Unfortunately, middle and high school students are some of the most severely sleep deprived. Older kids, especially during puberty years, need lots of good sleep, too! Read our blog post about some of the health benefits of a good night’s sleep.
WASH THOSE GERMS RIGHT OFF YOUR HANDS
Make sure your kids are washing their hands often, and with soap, of course! They should especially wash hands before eating, and after playing outside, handling pets, blowing their nose, going to the bathroom, and getting home from school. When we’re out and about, we like to have disposable wipes and hand sanitizer on hand.
A LITTLE MOVEMENT GOES A LONG WAY
Research shows that regular exercise may increase white blood cell activity and increase their circulation throughout the body. Even as little as 30 minutes a day can boost immune system activity. Try exercising as a family, too. Fun family activities include bike riding, hiking, in-line skating, basketball, tennis and frisbee. However, too much exercise can have a negative effect, so be conscientious if your little athlete engages in prolonged, continuous, high-intensity workouts. Make sure that they are eating a healthy, balanced diet and enough food to fuel their activity level. Also, adequate sleep is even more critical for kids who are very active, as their bodies need to rest and recover properly after working out.
Stress can have physiological effects that lowers your body’s ability to fight off infections. Stress has been shown to lower the number and effectiveness of natural infection-fighting cells. Remember that mental health is just as important as physical health. Some healthy ways to manage stress are coloring, journaling, meditation, practicing yoga or going for a walk out in nature–even just listening to calming nature sounds like ocean waves can help a lot.
GIVE YOUR CHILD A BRAIN-BOOSTING, HEALTHY BREAKFAST
Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day when it comes to school kids. A balanced breakfast of protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats is super important for brain function as well as for maintaining a steady level of energy throughout the day. Kidzshake is the perfect breakfast addition to kickstart your child’s busy day of classes and activities. We love our Kidzshake smoothies, as Kidzshake makes it easy and delicious to get in our daily dose of vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein and probiotics. Check out our Beet Brain Booster Smoothie, our Super Nutrient Chocolate Milk, and our Complete Nutrition Chocolate Bars! These recipes, as well as countless others on our blog, make for some nutritious and delicious breakfast ideas! Breakfast always seems a bit rushed in your household? Check out our blog post on Make Ahead Kidzshake Freezer Packs. And to learn more about some of the best brain-boosting foods for kids, read our blog post on it.
Here’s to a healthy, sickness-free school year!
Written by Gelsey Plaza