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Boosting your kids’ immunity before school starts

With the schools reopening, many parents are facing the decision of letting their kids go back to school or keeping them on online classes. There's no right or wrong

answer, but no matter what your choice is, is always a good idea to make sure their (and our) immune system is in top shape. Here's a few tips:

  • Boost immune systems with a balanced diet that includes probiotics, such as yogurt or kefir. Walnuts, fruits and vegetables containing Vitamin C (e.g., broccoli and citrus), Vitamin D (though sun exposure or supplements - please make sure to see your physician before starting your child on any new supplement) and lean meats (which contain zinc) are especially helpful for building immune systems. Garlic, ginger, turmeric, flaxseed, honey and cinnamon are also powerful immunity boosters, so make sure you add some to your ingredient arsenal. Also, limit their overall intake of additives and sugar - it can cause inflammation which reduces our capacity of fighting viruses and bacteria.

  • Make sleep a priority. Studies show that sleep deprivation can make us more susceptible to illness by reducing natural killer cells. The same holds true for children. How much sleep do kids need? Preschoolers (ages 3 to 5)may need 10 to 13 hours of sleep, children ages 6 to 13 require 9 to 11 hours, and adolescents (ages 14 to 17) need 8 to 10 hours. Not getting enough sleep limits the body’s ability to produce proteins called cytokines that help fight infection and reduce inflammation. Screen time may also affect sleep quality, so it's recommended that your child's eletronic devices are powered down long before bedtime.

  • Exercise. Moderate, regular exercise can boost the immune system, increasing white blood cell activity and their circulation throughout the body. As little as 30 minutes can boost immune system activity, but don't overdo it.

  • Be aware of germ hot spots. You’d be surprised at what microbiologists have found to be the germiest public places. Some high hot spots for germs can include restaurant menus and shopping cart handles (cell phones are big offenders as well). It’s also a good idea to make sure you take precautions and wash your hands, especially before eating.

  • Laugh together. Studies have shown that laughter may actually boost immune system function by increasing antibody-producing cells and help T-cells perform more effectively. Laughter has also been shown to reduce the levels of stress hormones while increasing feel-good hormones such as endorphins.

  • Teach Your Child Healthy Habits. Does your child know the importance of healthy habits to prevent colds, flu, and other infections? Healthy habits include remembering not to touch their eyes, cover their cough or to refrain from sharing cups and utensils with friends. Kids may even need to learn not to share their face masks or to play with them while they are in school. Some other things kids need to be reminded of is remembering to use a tissue instead of an arm sleeve, letting mom and dad know when they don't feel well, and avoiding close contact with their friends at school.

  • Banish second hand smoke. Cigarette smoke contains more than 7,000 harmful chemicals, many of which can irritate or kill cells in the body. Kids are more susceptible than adults to the harmful effects of second hand smoke because they breathe at a faster rate; a child's natural detoxification system is also less developed. Second hand smoke increases a child's risk of SIDS, bronchitis, ear infections, and asthma. If you absolutely can't quit smoking, you can reduce your child's health risks considerably by smoking only outside the house.

  • Sticking to a routine can also help children stay healthy. Try to follow the school schedule, be it meal time, television time or sleep time, even if your child is taking online classes.



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