As the weather has turned and the children have returned to school, the first things that come to mind are snotty noses, sore throats and coughing! It never fails that as the children return to school, the germ pool gets mixed and colds and stomach bugs begin. The best thing we can do to help our children ward off these illnesses is raise their defense system by boosting their immune system.
The simplest things make the biggest difference when talking about the immune system.
1. Sleep – Children, including teenagers, should be sleeping an average of 12 hours a night. This number is more for younger children and slightly less for teenagers (9-10 hours). Night time is when the body repairs itself and gets ready for the next day.
2. Water – Ideally, everybody should be drinking a minimum of ½ their body weight in ounces of water. For example, an 80lb child should be drinking at least 40 ounces of water.
3. Sugar and processed foods – The more we limit the candy, soda, cookies, crackers, etc., the better our digestive system works allowing our immune system to work at a higher capacity.
4. Increase your fruits and vegetables – I have found very few people that actually reach their daily servings of fruit and vegetables. Even my children who complain that they are the “Only Children” at school that have vegetables in their lunch, probably still fall short 2-3 servings of vegetables. Fruit is generally the easier one to reach but be careful not to eat too much fruit either!
5. Wash their hands – I really am not a fanatic about touching public surfaces. I don’t carry around a towel to open up doors anyway but I do insist the children wash their hands before they eat their after school snacks.
One of things I am pretty adamant about during the school year is making sure the kids are taking their daily supplements. I am pretty lax about the vitamins and supplements during the summer but the week before school starts they are setting on the kitchen table next to their dishes and silverware. I know a lot of people who come up with a pretty big concoction of supplements but I stick with 3 supplements in our house - Fish oil, Vitamin D3, and a multi-vitamin - the same ones I recommend to the patients in the office. If my patients say they can only afford one vitamin, I recommend Vitamin D3. I will talk about the supplements and why I choose the ones I do next week.
Children get sick and so do adults. To completely avoid this from occurring is impossible, but we can help the body by building its defense system so hopefully we can get over it sooner!