Giving Children a Boost

A new start, whether it be in childcare or at school, inevitably brings with it sick days.  While colds and flus cannot be avoided altogether there are measures that can be taken to boost your child’s immunity to these bugs.

The following are some tips to help fight off those nasty viruses:

Healthy Diet

Gobble up those greens and oranges as well.  Serving up fruits and vegetables is an excellent defence strategy against colds and flus.  Foods such as carrots, green beans, oranges and strawberries are loaded with immune-boosting phytonutrients and vitamins that aid the body in producing those awesome infection-fighting white blood cells.  The added benefit is that these vitamins and nutrients also safeguard adults against chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Try and incorporate at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day into your family’s diet to help block out those viruses.

As well, limit children’s overall intake of additives, sugar and processed or refined foods, focus once again on fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, eggs and meat.

Probiotics also play a critical role as they protect the digestive tract, help with digestion, assist in toxin clearance and safeguard against bacteria and viruses.  Foods enriched with probiotics and probiotic supplements containing lactobacillus and bifidobacteria are helpful in maintain your child’s microbiota.

Other beneficial supplements and herbs include vitamin D and zinc which boost a child’s immune system and elderberry and astragalus are helpful for recurrent respiratory tract infections. Be sure to consult with your child’s physician however before introducing any new vitamins and supplements.

Get your Z’s

In addition to getting all your vitamins A to Z ensure your child is also getting enough z’s as in hours of sleep.  Studies have repeatedly shown that not getting enough sleep can make you more susceptible to illness.   Adjust your child’s schedule to boost their sleep time and in turn you’ll boost their immune system.  Generally, toddlers require 12-13 hours of sleep and preschoolers need about 10 hours so ensure they are getting the rest they need.

Quantity and quality are important when it comes to sleep which means creating the perfect environment for the secretion of melatonin (the sleep hormone).  Children need to sleep in the dark without night lights and ensure that the bedroom is unplugged meaning no electronic devices as electromagnetic frequency affects sleep quality.

Get Moving

Exercise goes hand-in-hand with diet so be sure to get active.  Activities such as biking and hiking or sports like basketball and soccer in which the whole family can participate are great for modelling behaviour; rather than urging children to go out and play, lead by example and get moving as well.

Stop the Spread of Germs

The best defence against the spread of germs is the simple act of hand washing. Ensure that children are washing their hands often and with soap, particularly after they’ve been playing outside, handling pets, blowing their nose, using the bathroom and arriving home from a public place. It’s also a great idea to carry disposable wipes for cleanup when you don’t have access to soap and water.

In addition to this dispose of the toothbrush being used by a sick child. While the child won’t catch the same virus (unless it’s a bacterial infection such as strep throat), the virus can hop from one toothbrush to another, infecting other family members.

Don’t Stress

The back-to-school routine can often lead to stress and anxiety which can compromise the immune system.  Stress causes cortisol and adrenaline levels to ruse which in turn lowers the response of the immune system so be sure to provide children with down time to thrive.

While you can never completely shield your child from getting sick, taking these measures can go a long way towards being preventative.