Back to School - Supporting Your Kids Immunity

Back to School - Supporting Your Kids Immunity

BacktoSchool

Back to School!!

You’re in one of two camps with this phrase. On one hand, it marks the ending of summer and that can be a hard pill to swallow and, well, sad… on the other hand…you’re starting to forget what actual silence sounds like. Amiright? Either way, one thing is certain if you have school age kids in the house, you will probably want to get them ready the usual ephemera; binders, pencil cases, back packs, and snacks they’ll actually eat. But let’s take a second to talk about the more subtle aspects of getting ready for school with their health and budding immune systems.

With everything that we’ve been through this year and then some, it’s likely at the forefront of everyone’s mind to support the kiddies’ immune system when they go back, especially the younger babes that may be heading into the germ factory that is daycare. Luckily, we have you covered with these 5 easy go-to ways to support the immune system for the coming school year (that’s not just supplements).

1. Reduce Sugar + Increase Whole Foods

One of the easiest things we can do for our kids’ immunity isn’t necessarily about what you are giving them, but more about what we’re NOT giving them. Reducing and eliminating refined foods and sugary snacks can help support the immune system, so finding healthier alternatives to your standard go-to lunches and snacks can go a long way here.  A fun way to make foods interesting AND healthy are these fun little bento box type containers that allow you to switch it up on the regular. We love the idea of filling it with sliced fruits and veggies, protein bites (eggs, chicken, chickpeas etc), roasted veggies like cauliflower, sweet potatoes and other palatable veggies that your little one may like. There can be limitless options when you eliminate the potentially boring pb+j sammies from the mix. For inspiration, we love the visual presentation of options that Be A Fun Mom’s blog offers.  Added bonus: a year of less moldy, uneaten and forgotten lunches discovered at the bottom of Tommy’s backpack!

2. Herbal Support

Herbs can be very powerful when it comes to supporting our immune systems. There are loads of child-friendly herbs that can help with your kiddo’s immune system before and during school. We like this immune supportive formula from our Canadian friend’s over at St Francis that goes gangbusters for keeping the immune system in check. There are loads of other home remedies that you can adapt to make your own immune supportive blends. Teas (hot or iced) are great ways to get some mild and child-safe herbs in those little systems. Things like turmeric, ginger and raw honey can not only help support the immune system but also sounds like the beginning of a delicious fall morning beverage. Elderberry syrup is also an effective herb that can be used to shorten the life of an existing cough, cold or sore throat.

With all herbals, please consult with your primary care practitioner before administering.

3. Sleep

Sleep is paramount and is an often overlooked part in improving our immunity. Studies show that during our nightly z’s, certain components of the immune system amp up. This increase of immune strength sleep and the circadian rhythm so it’s no wonder that inadequate sleep can affect the immune system and can make you more prone to feel under the weather. Promoting better sleep habits for your kids may feel like a challenge at first but making small incremental changes can help keep the school germs at bay. But how much sleep is enough sleep? Depending on the age, your kid may need more or less sleep so we’ve included a guide here on whether your child is sleeping enough.

AGE HOURS of SLEEP
2 - 3 11.5 - 12.5
3 - 4 11 - 11.5
4 - 5 10.5 - 11
5 - 6 10 - 11
6 - 12 9 - 11


TIPS FOR HEALTHIER SLEEPS:

 Reduce screen time  / technology at least 1 hour before bed.
Screens emit a blue light that can trick your body into thinking it’s daytime and make it harder to fall into an REM cycle.

 Reading and Journaling
Reading at bed time starts to be associated with feelings of being relaxed and with a regular reading before bed routine will help make your child feel calmer and more tired at bed time. We love these this classic option.

 Sleep Balm
This gentle essential oil blend made specifically for kids to help them nod off peacefully and naturally.

 Magnesium
Magnesium is a natural and gentle sedative that helps your muscles relax. This magnesium drink for kids is a great way to help them wind down at night before brushing their teeth in a flavour they wont totally hate.

Tips for healthier sleep

4. Vitamin Support (D3, Zinc, Vitamin C)

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll know that these three heavy hitters are the classic go-to’s for supporting the immune system. Each of these nutrients have amazing extra benefits in the body as well; Vitamin C not only protects the immune system, but is also integral for energy production and the growth and development of all the body’s tissues. Zinc is a star for wound healing, DNA synthesis and growth and development. Vitamin D3 is the favourite child of vitamins (don’t lie, we know you have a favourite), it strengthens bones and muscles and balances mood just to name a few. If you’re looking for a three-birds and one stone situation, we love these easy to take gummie vitamins by Herbaland. Gone are the days of crushing up bitter vitamins and sneaking them in your kid’s yogurt or applesauce.  You can also find each of these in every day food items:

Vitamin C: Strawberries, peppers, citrus fruits, rose hips, camu camu

Vitamin C

Vitamin D3: Salmon, tuna, egg yolk

Vitamin D3

Zinc: Egg, beef, pumpkin seeds, turkey, lentil, chickpeas, cashews

zinc

Hot tip Alert: Incorporate these foods into your kids’ bento style lunch boxes

5. Drink Yo Water!

Last but DEFINITELY not least, increasing your kids’ intake of water will not only fortify their immune system, but will also help flush excess toxins from their body and keep them regular (number 1 and number 2). Some kids’ have a distaste for water so there are loads of tricky ways to get them to drink it without the “but it’s boooooorrrriing” complaints. Herbal teas are a great way to support your child’s hydration levels and you could even sweeten the deal with a little raw honey for the extra benefits. See if you can find your kid’s fave herbal beverage and start there. Aiming for the fruitier flavours are usually a real crowd pleaser. Celestial Seasonings have loads of tea flavours from fruity to nutty to spicy – perfect for any time of year or craving or pallette. And to ensure all the extra hydration doesn’t disrupt their number 3 tip (Sleep), try and limit water intake after dinner.

Jenn Luckas photo

Written by Jenn Luckas

Jenn is a Certified Nutritional Practitioner living in Toronto, Ontario. Jenn has a growing passion for all things holistic wellness while empowering others to believe they can create their version of health and balance for themselves. Jenn's favourite areas of practice include digestive wellness, low waste living and imbibing in the occasional donut. She loves interior design, curb-alerts and crosswords. She can be found at THENOURISHNEST.COM as well as chilling as Vitarock's Ethical Ambassador.

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