Back to school is an exciting time for our kiddos. They are exposed to so many new thoughts, ideas, learning opportunities, and of course…germs! Now before you freak out, germ exposure is not a bad thing. It is how a healthy immune system helps you adapt to an ever-changing environment in order to keep you protected against sickness or disease. Your child’s immune system is like a well-fortified army, constantly patrolling the perimeter for any potential invaders. Problems can arise, however, when the troops are depleted.
Whether or not your kid is constantly coming home with sniffles and sneezes largely depends on the health of his or her immune system.
Here are 5 simple things you can do to boost your children’s health and well-being that have a direct impact on their immunity.
Minimize Sugar Intake
In addition to several other detrimental effects of refined sugar, it has been shown to lower the immune response. Do your best to eliminate or cut back on your child’s sugar intake. Sugary beverages such as sodas and fruit juices are particularly problematic, but you would do well to take a good look at your child’s consumption of snack foods like cookies, candy, cake, etc.
Additionally, while they might not look like the typical sugary treat, things like crackers, chips, pretzels, and other carb-heavy snacks all break down into sugar when processed by the body and should be eaten sparingly. Loading up on these types of foods leaves less room for healthy choices like proteins and veggies. It’s an eating pattern that will eventually depress your child’s immune system.
Kids can deal with a lot of stress during their school-aged years. There is peer pressure, social anxiety, assignment deadlines, and even self-imposed pressure to perform at their best. You remember what it was like to be a kid in school, right? Every little crisis was the end of the world.
The cumulative effect of all those stressors undoubtedly has a negative impact on your child’s immune system. Fortunately there are ways to combat it. Breathing exercises can be extremely helpful in the moment when dealing with the onset of stress and anxiety. Practicing mindfulness and meditation with your kids can help them overcome stressful situations. Doing so also helps to bolster their self-image so that future encounters with adversity don’t seem as daunting.
Encourage Exercise for Your Child’s Immune System
School days can get long and tedious. It is way too easy for kids to come home from a long day and want to collapse on the couch for the evening. All that inactivity can cause the body’s systems, including the immune system, to dial down and get sluggish. Additionally, your lymphatic system depends on regular movement to help the flow of lymph fluid through the body, which is a major pathway of toxin elimination. Chronic lack of movement becomes fertile ground for sickness to take root.
A simple daily walk can go a long way toward building a healthier body. Make it a family affair and get out there with your kids. Walking is an easy and effective form of exercise. It can also be a great opportunity for your kids to open up and verbalize their thoughts and feelings.
We all require sleep. But lack of sufficient sleep can be especially impactful on our kids. Poor sleep can affect almost every facet of your day, and for kids who are already feeling the pressures of school life, lacking sleep is like throwing gas on the fire. Not only is your body physically drained, but every challenge you face when you’re not well rested is seemingly magnified. An exhausted body under inflated stress is a recipe for illness.
With homework, late night study sessions, sports, and extracurricular activities, school can be tough on a sleep schedule. Do your best to establish a regular bedtime for your kids and have them stick to it as strictly as possible. Doing so will help their bodies get into a consistent sleep rhythm so that they can get their recommended nightly hours. Even if they are not getting their full allotment, a regular bedtime schedule can help them get into a more sound, restful sleep. There is perhaps no more impactful habit to bolster your child’s immune system than to maximize nightly sleep.
Kids sit in school all day breathing recycled air under artificial lighting while constantly being encouraged to bathe in hand sanitizer. If there is a better formula for depressing your immune system, I’m not sure what it is.
Get outside with your kids and expose them to all the healthy benefits that nature has to offer. Getting some natural sunlight on their skin is a wonderful way to stimulate vitamin D production and is also a great mood booster. Introducing the immune system to new triggers in the environment increases its resiliency.
Shinrin-yoku, the Japanese art of “forest bathing” – simply immersing yourself in nature – has been shown to have tremendous health benefits. Here’s how to do it.
Getting well when you’re sick can be a chore. Staying well when you’re not sick also takes some work. But the effort is well worth it. Implementing a handful of simple habits with regularity goes a long way toward keeping your body at its healthiest and helping you and your kids get the most enjoyment out of life.