With both the start of school and flu season around the corner, I thought it would be a good idea to discuss boosting immunity for the whole family. These are pretty obvious, but they are tried and true and absolutely work. Especially with children, illness is going to happen, there’s little that can be done to avoid it when they go to school with so many other kids. The idea is to keep our immune systems working their best so that we can better avoid infection as well as get well quicker.
Here are 8 easy and effective ways to boost immunity for the whole family:
- Encourage hand washing. A foolproof way to avoid illness is to wash away the germs. Of course, this can easily be taken too far because exposure to bacteria can actually help our immune systems in the long run. So adults should be smart about it and hand wash after touching things in public or if around sick people. But with kids, hand washing can go a long way to helping them to stay healthy by reducing stress on their immune system.
- Eat vitamin-rich fruits and vegetables. Many children are picky eaters, usually sticking to high-carb or dairy. Serve a variety of fruit and vegetables at every meal and gently encourage them to eat them, this is a good habit no matter what time of year. Also, a vegetable heavy smoothie in the morning with some fruit to sweeten it is an easy way to boost intake. When the whole family is eating healthy, it encourages everyone to stick with it through positive influence. Remember to go for a rainbow of colors.
- Enforce an early bedtime. A good night’s sleep does wonders in helping the immune system fight things off. Sleep deprivation lowers the germ fighting cells in our blood. Our bodies secrete the proper hormones during sleep to heal and to ensure their immune systems are working properly. Get kids into bed at a reasonable hour and adults should follow suit soon after.
- Get outside and move. Exercise is another great way to improve the immune system and get kid’s bodies working in tip top shape. Winter can often mean hours spent inside, but remember that unless it’s severe weather, there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes. It helps if the whole family joins in for activities like walks, hikes, and outdoor games.
- Reduce sugar and artificial ingredients. Food aimed at kids are usually packed with not so great ingredients. Refined sugar and chemical additives can wreak havoc on the body, leading to an immune system that’s not working at it’s best. The less processed food kids eat, the more room there is for all the good stuff. Adults should steer clear of processed snacks, especially at the work desk and opt for whole foods treats.
- Ease stress. Stress pretty much has the same effect on the immune system as sleep deprivation. The body gets stuck in a fight-or-flight mode and the immune system doesn’t get a chance to heal or the proper signals to work efficiently. Easing stress can be as simple as reducing after school activities or setting up media-free family days. Other great stress busters are meditation and yoga, with benefits extending to all ages.
- Show the gut some love. Probiotics are a super useful tool in the immune boosting kit. Good bacteria in the intestines are front-line fighters for the immune system. A good quality probiotic will help to reinforce those soldiers.
- Try a supplement. A balanced diet and regular exercise do the most in promoting health, but a little boost can be especially helpful when around someone who’s sick. Elderberry syrup, nettle, vitamin D, or zinc are all great little helpers when we need extra support.