As the summer holidays draw to a close, parents across the nation breathe a collective sigh of relief that they can get a rest from the exhausting rigmarole of 6:30am wakeups, kids’ parties and “Are we there yet?” road trips. However, with the start of a new school year, comes the exposure to new germs, and the threat of sickness.
The best shield against bacteria is a healthy immune system, which can be strengthened by:
Antibiotics are prescribed more than 154 million times a year, and although they most definitely have their place, it is estimated that at least 30 percent of antibiotic prescriptions are unnecessary and have been shown to deplete the good bacteria in your microbiome.
A scary fact when you consider that 75 percent of your immune system resides in your gut, and the fact that just one round of antibiotics can weaken your child’s immune system. It’s important to avoid antibiotics unless completely necessary and if it is required, to repopulate their little guts’ bacteria populations with probiotics.
You can do this by packing their back-to-school lunches with as many probiotic-rich foods as you can trick them into eating, (we’re looking at you sneaky cheese and pickle sandwich).
Re-establish a sleep schedule
All those long days and endless sleepovers have probably messed with their usual bedtime, so try to reintroduce a good sleeping routine, (no more sleeping in or staying up late) as soon as possible. This is important as most children need between 10 and 14 hours of uninterrupted sleep every day to fight off any bacteria they come in to contact with.
Tell the sugar to suck it
Over the course of the holiday, your little one has probably had way too much sugar, when you consider all the festivities, grandma visits and movie night snacking that’s been going on over the past few weeks. Unfortunately, sugar can deplete your microbiome of good bacteria, while helping bad bacteria grow. Try to wean them off the holiday diet with natural sugars that pack an immune-boosting punch, like fruit, or bake something healthily-sweet, like coconut and date balls..
Breastfed babies tend to have stronger immune systems because of the protective, immune-boosting antibodies found in the colostrum of a nursing mom’s “first milk”. After breastfeeding, you can still pass on the goodness of colostrum with certain grass-fed cow and goat milk products that can be sneaked into smoothies, water and juices.
Vitamin D is needed by every single cell in your body and in particular, your immune system. In fact, low levels of vitamin D have been linked to autoimmune conditions such as type 1 diabetes and inflammatory bowel disorders, while optimal levels have been shown to improve symptoms of these conditions by helping increase white blood cells, which are the defenders of your immune system. Our bodies make vitamin D from sunlight, so try to limit indoor activities like iPad and TV watching in favour of hiking, swimming, and picnics.
Get the greens in
It may seem obvious, but greens like brussels sprouts, kale, spinach and broccoli are essential to supporting your child’s methylation, (the body’s biochemical superhighway that controls your ability to detox). Loaded with B-vitamins, these vegetables will help your child fight off the onslaught of toxins they’re exposed to on a daily basis as well as strengthen their immune system.
Little one not keen on veggies? Try hiding them in the form of homemade fruit popsicles or a decadent smoothie, like Jeannette Ogden’s “dessert for breakfast” blackberry smoothie.
Essential oils are essential
Essential oils are a fun and easy immune-booster to add to your regular routine. Eucalyptus and oregano have all been shown to have antibacterial and immune-modulating capabilities. These are great to diffuse throughout your house to support your child’s immune system while they are playing.
You can also add oregano oil to meals you are already cooking, to enhance flavour as well as your child’s immune system.
Get some extra help
Releaf Multivitamin kids chews is a multivitamin with minerals and added Rosehip, a natural source of Vitamin C for the maintenance of good health that may contribute to the normal function of the immune system.