By Dawna Matthews:
It seems that my daughter got sick with a cold as soon as the school season started. Many parents feel that their kids have runny noses, colds or ear infections quite frequently and can’t seem to stay well for extended periods of time. Now that cold and flu season is approaching, I want our home to be healthy and whole, and I want us to stay well.
Parents play a big part in the health and well-being of their children in a number of ways. There are several things we can do for our children and ourselves to improve our health, stay vital and remain as bug-free as possible by boosting the immune system.
The immune system is our body’s first line of defense against disease and infection. When we feed the immune system in the right ways, we boost its fighting power by increasing white blood cells and eliminating the toxins that can build up and make us prone to illness.
Here are some tips to add to your family’s/children’s routine to help stay well and boost the immune system.
1. Get Adequate Rest: I can never say enough about the importance of rest and going to sleep at regular times for overall well-being. It is an important component to keeping the immune system running properly. Give your children the gift of healthy sleep habits that last a lifetime as well as improve their immune system by developing a relaxing and nurturing routine. My daughter’s bedtime ritual actually starts an hour before bedtime, which is the same time every night. First, she has a bath (usually infused with soothing essential oils), then we read stories, and ultimately she go to bed. This is a great time to unwind from all the stimulation, connect with one another, and get some rest in order to fall asleep easily and early, in order to wake up rested and ready for the next day.
2. Add Probiotics: The key to building your child’s immune system is to create an environment where the beneficial bacteria thrive. Good bacteria prevent infection as well as compete with the bad bacteria, and it helps prevent bad bacteria from forming while producing vitamins (such as Vitamin B) required for a healthy immune system. Chloe’s pediatrician recommended probiotics after she had a stomach flu, so now she takes a chewable supplement every morning to maintain healthy levels of bacteria. Additionally, add more fermented foods and drinks such as yogurt, kefir or kombucha to their diets.
3. Dirt, Soap, and Water: We as a society are obsessed with dirt and germs to a point where we are creating super-germs that our bodies are having difficulty fighting. Children need exposure to dirt and germs for their immune systems to completely develop as well as to ward off infections. The simplest way to clean is with soap and water: no anti-bacterial gels, soaps or lotions are necessary. Make sure your kids wash their hands with soap often. As parents, we should pay particular attention to their hygiene before and after each meal, and after playing outside, handling pets, blowing their noses, using the bathroom and arriving home from school. Make it fun — let them pick out soap in fun shapes, colors and scents. Allow children to follow their hearts and play outside and get dirty while strengthening their immune systems and having fun.
4. Eat More Fruits and Vegetables: Immune boosting nutrients are plentiful in fruits and vegetables, and eating a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables remains among the most important ways to maintain health. Try to eat organic to limit the intake of pesticides and genetically modified foods. While increasing the intake of fruits and vegetables, reduce refined sugars and carbohydrates, which can accumulate toxins in the system and make you and your children susceptible to illness. Try to get your child to eat five servings of fruits and veggies a day.
5. Add Supplements: Add a high quality children’s multivitamin or supplement daily. Simple vitamins, herbs and minerals strengthen the immune system. Try Vitamin C, Echinacea and Zinc. Or, if your child does not eat enough fruits and vegetables, you may also look into a supplement such as JuicePlus. Other herbal tinctures and syrups I like are elderberry syrup and Kick-It Immune by Wish Garden Herbs
Healthy habits you can adopt to give your child’s immune system a boost are not limited to the ones above. A healthy immune system doesn’t mean your children will never get sick, but it does mean that — if they do catch the next bug going around — a healthy, happy immune system will allow milder symptoms and the ability to get well sooner.
We care about you and your family. If you have any concerns about your child’s health, please consult your healthcare provider.
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