Strengthen Your Family’s Immune System for Back-to-School

by Shane Power, President of Watertree Health

Back-to-school season will begin shortly and that means more than 25 million children will be filling the classrooms of schools across America. If you’re a parent, you may already be preparing yourself for schedule changes, supply lists, and wardrobe updates. But, are your kid’s immune systems ready? They may be in good health, but their defense mechanisms may need all the help they can get. The new academic year means schools will quickly become a breeding ground for viruses and bacteria, where your children can come into contact with nearly 15,000 germs daily. This in turn may mean they get sick and you and the rest of your family may get ill as well.

While some germ exposure is actually beneficial and can help strengthen immune systems, we’re all too familiar with wanting to steer clear of something more aggressive “going around.” Maintaining a healthy home can be challenging, but it isn’t impossible to do. Before you send your kids on their way, here are a few tips you can use to help strengthen your household’s immune system. As always, consult with your doctor to ensure these health changes are right for you and your family.

Be Active

Start the day with at least thirty minutes of physical activity to help remove toxins and bacteria from the lungs. In addition, physical activity may cause antibodies and white blood cells to change, helping the body quickly detect signs of illness. Incorporating exercise into your family’s daily routine may also help to kickstart energy levels and overall mood.

Boost Vitamin D

Limited exposure to the sun is a great way to get natural vitamin D. If you’re worried about free radicals and possible sunburn, eat foods high in vitamin D instead. For example, foods like fatty fish, eggs, and mushrooms are a good source of this vitamin. Increasing the body’s vitamin D levels may help prevent the development of respiratory infections.

Add More Zinc

Zinc is one of the most important minerals the body relies on. Similar to vitamins C, D, and E, zinc can help keep the immune system strong. Eating more seeds, nuts, and legumes can help boost the body’s level of zinc.  

Embrace Antioxidants

Just by increasing your family’s fruit and veggie intake, you can help fortify everyone’s immune system. Adding plums, blueberries, eggplant, kale, onions, and other antioxidant-rich foods to meals can help protect the body against free radicals.

Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Sleep can affect your overall well-being and productivity. Your sleep requirements change over time as you age, but keep in mind, growing children may need a few more hours to feel rejuvenated for the next day. It’s recommended that children ages 3-5 get a minimum of 10 hours, children ages 6-13 a minimum of 9 hours, and children ages 14-17 a minimum of 8 hours of sleep per night.

Everyone gets sick, but there are ways to help protect yourself and your family from unwanted ailments that disrupt busy schedules. Staying active, tweaking your family’s diet to include more nutrient-rich foods, and getting enough sleep can help boost your household’s immune systems. Being proactive rather than reactive is the key!