Back to School Immune Boosting!

PhotoFunia-1441585067Back to school!  I am so excited for the start of another school year.  BOTH girls will be in school this year and I will have a chance to spend my time differently, after being an at home mom for 6 years!

All this back to school excitement can also cause some stress. This truly is a season of change: schedules are readjusting, the weather is changing, and germ exposure rises dramatically, especially for families with kids in school.  All of these changes tax the immune system.

This is an ideal time to focus on boosting your child’s immunity, and diet is the best place to start. Whole and nutritionally dense foods like avocado, spinach, nuts, eggs, berries and lentils just a few immune supporting foods to incorporate into the diet. Phytonutrient rich, brightly coloured vegetables are excellent additions to the diet as well.  Processed foods and sugar in particular are enemies of immunity.  Sugar suppresses the immune system for hours after consumption.  It is not coincidental that Halloween marks the onset of cold and flu season!

People often ask me if kids need supplements.  I believe they do.  Our food is not as dense in nutrients as it was many years ago.  Depending on how you source your produce, soil is depleted in nutrients, treatments with herbicides impact nutritional quality, and produce is usually picked before it’s ripe and shipped long distances in order to make it to our supermarkets.  Children can be picky and erratic eaters, which can also impact the nutrients that they get in a day.

These are some back to school recommendations:

Back-to-school immune boosters

A multi-vitamin is great, but it likely isn’t enough to keep your kids from getting sick. Following a simple protocol can go a long way to making this year’s back to school experience happy and healthy for everyone.

Throughout the year:

  • Probiotics improve digestive function, and the immune system relies on the gut for proper functioning. Ask at your health food store for a quality probiotic that kids would like.  (unless the package specifies “shelf stable”, the package should be refrigerated. 10 billion live cultures is a good daily amount (though use more if your child is on or has been on antibiotics).
  • Omega-3’s establish healthy cell membranes that prevent inflammation and resist toxins and attack by pathogens.  Ascenta makes great oils that kids love.  Check them out.
  • Vitamin D is essential to maintain immune function and it does so much more for the body (I will post more about Vitamin D in a future post).  Our bodies usually make Vitamin D from the sunlight on our skin.  Using sunscreen and our Canadian winters make it hard to make enough Vitamin D.  Some foods like milk are fortified with Vitamin D.  We tend to do 1000 IU of Vitamin D for the entire school year.
  • Multivitamin

When your Child is sick or Everyone around them is sick!

  • Vitamin C reduces inflammation and fights and prevents infection – 500mg for infants 1000 mg/day for children, 2-4 g for adults.  You can also increase Vitamin C rich foods like red peppers, kiwi, broccoli and berries.

It may seem obvious, but I’ll say it anyway…

Make sure your child gets good sleep – to build immunity naturally, set a healthy bedtime and incorporate an evening routine to make night time smooth and easy.
Water intake is always important, not just in the heat of summer.
Regular exercise  is critical for stress release, and general well being.
Spend time outdoors, taking in plenty of fresh air and Vitamin D from sunshine.

Remember that getting sick is actually good for your child once in a while. Being ill builds immunity and gives the immune system a chance to do its job!