Viral and bacterial infections are all around us; if your child is going to daycare or school, they are exposed to numerous microbes every day.
Many of those microbes are not disease-causing, but the many that can cause disease could be severe enough to cause symptoms for your child and even your whole family.
Below are my top 5 tips to boost your child’s immune system to keep viral and bacterial infections away.
1- Abundant and Restful Sleep
A good night’s sleep should be refreshing for the body. During nighttime our body can reset many of the functions, clear the “bad stuff”, and strengthen the immune system. School-aged children need 9-12 hours of sleep every night, so make sure to get the kids to bed on time!
2- Proper Personal Hygiene
Encourage your children to wash their hands thoroughly, 3-4 times per day or as needed. Antibacterial soaps are not necessary, regular soap bars are sufficient!
Teach children to cough or sneeze into their elbow to stop the spread of germs when they are sick. If they come home with even the first signs of a cold or flu, start treatment right away and keep them home and well hydrated. I recommend immune boosting tea and chicken noodle soup during this phase.
3. Boost your Immune System
Make sure the whole family is eating a diet rich in nutrients that are immune boosting. Vitamin C, Zinc, and Antioxidants are 3 top examples that can help our immune system function better.
Foods that are high in these nutrients like fruits and vegetables, beans, and whole grains should be part of our daily diet. Pay extra attention to colorful foods as a “rainbow” of beautiful fruits and vegetables are immune boosting and fun for kids!
4. Cut out Sugar and Sweets
Sugar is not good for your immune system! Sugar is found in chocolate, muffins, cereals, yogurts, ice cream, sweetened beverages and so much more. In fact, many of the foods advertised for children are the highest in sugar.
White blood cells are the fighters that kill bacteria and viruses when they attack the body. However, when your child eats sugar their immune system function is decreased for at least 6 hours, and our fighters (white blood cells) cannot do their job.
5. Take Adequate Vitamin D
Most people, including children, are deficient in vitamin D and should take a quality vitamin D supplement through the fall and winter (and get plenty of sunlight throughout each season). Doses are based on age and body weight; talk to your naturopathic physician to find the most accurate dose and supplement for your kids.
With viral and bacterial infections all around us, especially in highly populated communal spaces like school and daycare, use these tips to keep your kids in good health!
Dr. Shadi Sarebanha, ND, PhD is Naturopathic Physician for adults and children at National Integrated Health Associates in Washington D.C. With extensive worldwide studies and experience she guides patients of all ages to empowerment. Her areas of focus include Pediatrics and Women’s health, autoimmune conditions, thyroid issues, digestive/gastrointestinal health and diseases, and mental health.