Laughter is the best medicine. There’s certainly a lot of truth to that. Happiness helps to boost the immune system by reducing stress. One of my favourite things about children is how easily they can laugh. In addition to joy, here are five more ways to help boost your little ones’ immune systems.
Almost every health expert will tell you that the best way to stay healthy is to get enough good quality sleep. This is especially true for children. They play hard all day and we expect a lot from them, so it’s important to give their bodies and brains enough time to recuperate.
Children age 5-12 should get about 9 to 11 hours of solid sleep per night, while teens need about 8 to 10 hours per night. A wind-down routine, appropriate bed time, as well as loose pyjamas, clean sheets, and a dark, cool room will help to encourage quality rest.
Consuming excess sugar can lead to a variety of health problems like obesity, tooth decay, poor concentration and developmental delays; it also drastically suppresses the immune system.
Eliminating sugar may take some time and work as children’s snacks often contain large amounts, and kids frequently gravitate towards these options. To combat this, I recommend providing well-balanced meals with healthy fat, fibre and protein. Offer snack plates featuring naturally sweet foods like blueberries, strawberries and carrots.
Even a small amount of sugar can compromise the immune system so talk to your kids about how sugar and all foods affect how they feel; this will help them become more in tune with their bodies.
The gut contains over 100 trillion live micro-organisms that work to keep us healthy. Not only do they promote proper digestion, they also protect the body from infection. Over 80% of the immune system is in the gut therefore a healthy gut is imperative to a strong immune system.
Fats found in foods like avocado, chia seeds, olive oil and salmon boost the immune system by decreasing inflammation; while proteins help to provide the building blocks for our defences. The benefits of a balanced diet are all-encompassing, however focusing on fibre and fermented foods will help the gut and immune system thrive. High-fibre foods like berries and apples, as well as leafy greens like kale, collards and spinach are great options. These can sometimes be tough to introduce to picky little ones so any fruit and vegetables are a win in my book!
When it comes to supplements, I recommend a good multi-vitamin, vitamin D, probiotics and a quality fish oil year round. During cold and flu season, some of my favourites include increased vitamin C, elderberry syrup, zinc, and echinacea specifically formulated for kids.
For most children, getting enough exercise during the summer isn’t a problem but as we return to school schedules, kids are often exhausted after a long day. Even so, staying active comes with many health benefits. Exercise helps little ones excrete toxins through the skin, raises core body temperate killing off pathogens, and encourages proper lymphatic drainage.
When a virus enters the body, white blood cells gobble it up in order to protect us from getting sick. This waste is eliminated through the lymphatic system. If this system is stagnant and proper drainage is not happening, waste products can build up and lead to disease. Regular exercise encourages proper flow of waste materials out of the body.
Germs are everywhere. It is impossible to clean and sterilize our environments sufficiently enough to get rid of all pathogens; and nor would we want to. Our bodies are designed to exchange information with the viruses and bacteria around us in order to stay healthy. However, to prevent serious illness, it is important to teach kids good hygiene practices.
With these five tips, you’ll set the groundwork to help keep your little ones healthy all season long.