Having dozens of small children trapped in a classroom together all day, sharing books, toys, and who knows what else is a recipe for colds and other illnesses. Growing up, it seemed like whenever I was in school, I was sick straight through from the start of fall to the end of the school year in May!
While it may be impossible to avoid all the bugs going around during the fall and winter months, you can take steps to reduce your child's risk of illness, and hopefully shorten any illnesses he or she might come down with anyway.
The quick infographic below explains 5 tips for helping strengthen you and your child's immune system this winter, so that hopefully you all can avoid the worst of cold and flu season!
2.) Eating fresh, whole foods - especially lots of fruits and vegetables - is probably the best way for everyone to stay healthy year-round. Avoid processed foods, and especially sugar, which is a potent immune suppressant. Instead, your family can enjoy a wide variety of colorful fruits and veggies, grass-fed meats, and whole grains and legumes. Not only will your immune system be healthier, but all your other systems will be as well! (For some tips for cooking with these foods, be sure to check out our "Foodie Friday" recipes here!)
3.) Some essential oils may have some immune-supportive benefits. Be careful when using these - especially with young children - as they can be very potent. Here is more information on the use of some of the most popular essential oils.
4.) While you may not think that your cleaning products have much to do with your immune system, in fact, some chemicals in household cleaners are quite dangerous to the respiratory system - especially for children. Even if they don't directly deplete the immune system, some toxins can build up over time, creating stress within your body, and lowering your immune response. For better health for the whole family, switch to all-natural cleaning products, or clean with safe substances such as vinegar and baking soda. Not only is this better for your family's health, but it's also better for the environment!
5.) It seems that those glowing screens are everywhere these days... When I was growing up, televisions were just about the only screens around, but nowadays there are tablets, computers, and of course, cell phones in every room. And kids, in particular, are drawn to them like moths to a flame! Unfortunately, more and more studies are finding negative effects caused by kids' constant exposure to these devices. Not only do they disrupt sleep patterns (and sleep is one of the most important factors for a healthy immune system), but they are also quite addictive, and they tend to keep kids inside, away from the fresh air and sunshine that they need for good health.
Limit screen time for your children to after they have spent plenty of time outside and gotten plenty of physical exercise, and be sure all screens are put away at least 1 hour before bedtime.
While these tips won't guarantee that your kids won't get sick this winter, they can certainly help to decrease the odds and encourage a healthier year for everyone.