The back-to-school season is a time for new opportunities and beginnings. For some students, especially those with compromised immune systems, the susceptibility to illness increases. Protecting your child(ren) and yourself against common colds or other infections that circulate the classroom can be a lot easier with the right steps in place.
Developing a back-to-school routine is a challenge in and of itself. Waking up earlier, establishing a quick and efficient routine, and leaving the house on time can prove difficult, especially after summer vacation. Many health officials state that immune health is tied to diet, sleep, and exercise. Building a healthy diet and establishing movement and proper sleep hygiene can enhance immune function, which your child needs as they face the new school year. Hopefully, the following tips can help better prepare your child’s immune system for the back-to-school reality.
Get Plenty Of Sleep
The Sleep Foundation encourages school kids between the ages of six and 13 to get nine to 11 hours of sleep every night. Without sufficient sleep, the body has a more difficult time regulating biological rhythms. Not to mention, insufficient sleep makes the body more susceptible to sickness. If you or your child has trouble sleeping, there are practices that have proven to be quite effective. Click here to learn more about methods that help you fall asleep.
Water is essential for a healthy life because it has many roles in the body. Not only does it help with waste elimination, but it also helps the immune system function optimally. If the body is in a dehydrated state, it cannot effectively produce white blood cells, which help fight off bacteria, pathogens, and viruses. Drinking plenty of water can also help flush toxins from the body, which keeps the immune system functioning optimally. Need help getting your kiddos to drink more water? Spice it up by adding fresh fruit to the water, or consider blending some fruit with water to make a healthier rendition of a punch.
Eat The Right Foods
Dietitians agree that one of the best ways to boost the immune system is to eat the right foods. Focus on fruits and vegetables because they are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that boost the function of immune cells. High-fiber foods also work to maintain a healthy digestive system. What foods do you eat to encourage better immune function? Consider packing the following snacks in your child’s lunch:
- Oranges: One orange can have up to 75% of the daily value (DV) of vitamin C.
- Mandarins: Mandarins pack a considerable amount of vitamin C and make for the perfect lunch snack. They are easy to peel, easy to put in lunches, and their seedlessness makes them easy to enjoy!
- Sunflower seeds: Make sure to opt for the unsalted, shell-less sunflower seeds because they are very easy to eat. Sunflower seeds are also rich in vitamin E, which exhibits antioxidant effects in the body.
- Almonds: Similar to sunflower seeds, almonds are naturally rich in vitamin E, which helps to fight off free radicals and boost immune function. They also contain heart healthy fats, protein, and lots of fiber.
- Broccoli: It may be very difficult to get your child to eat broccoli, but it is an excellent source of vitamin C and sulforaphane, both of which encourage immune function. Sneak broccoli into meals like broccoli tater tots or fruit smoothies!
It’s no secret that kids like to run amok like they haven’t a care in the world. The important thing to remember is to not let your child immediately plop on the couch or bed and watch TV or play video games from the time they get home to the time they go to bed. Even if your child is active in school sports or playground activities, make sure they remain active outside of school hours. This is especially important as they progress through the year and the weather starts to cool off.
Maintain A Healthy Weight
Childhood obesity is a serious problem in the United States, and it puts children and adolescents at risk for poor health. Between 2017-2020, 19.7% of children between the ages of two and 19 were affected by obesity. Obesity prevalence between two- and five-year-olds amounted to 20.7%, and 22.2% among six- to 11-year-olds. Data revealed that obesity prevalence was higher in Hispanic and non-Hispanic Black children than it was in non-Hispanic White children and non-Hispanic Asian children. Aside from decreased immune function, obesity increases the child’s risk of other health problems. Consult your family doctor if you notice the child’s weight is becoming a problem.