The kids have been back to school for some time now and while at first there were those mixed feelings of “they’re getting so big!” and “Finally!” as the smell of fresh stationary and new pens exited the house in a whirlwind of emotions, the reality has probably set in that the second they get back they’ll be bringing with them much more than stories of their friends’ exploits and complaints about teachers and too much homework. That’s right.
School = germs.
And if you’re anything like us, you’ll want to do anything humanly possible (while still reasonably simple, let’s be honest!) to keep those sick days at a minimum--for all involved!
There are plenty of habits we can incorporate into our lives (some, admittedly, more easily than others!) to help make sure that our bodies are all running smoothly and well-prepared to tackle whatever ickiness gets tossed in our kids’ ways in the halls of our esteemed educational institutions. And, of course, if you do get a cold, Cold-EEZE is here to help!
Diet Tips for a Healthy Body
The vitamins and nutrients we give ourselves through the foods that we eat are one of the most significant ways we can help our bodies run well and be ready for anything.
- Variety of fruits and veggies. We all know how important fruits and veggies are, but actually incorporating them consistently into our diets (not to mention our kids’ diets!) is a whole other story. But the vitamins C, D, B6 and E and antioxidants in a rainbow variety are essential2 and can help keep you healthy. One of the best ways we’ve found to make eating our vegetables easier is to take a moment and think through what’s keeping them off your plate. For example, is it the hassle? One way to deal with that is to prep vegetables for the whole week all at once, like on this video. We also love keeping a variety of frozen options ready -- they’re often frozen right at the farm, at their peak and taste great! On the other hand, if your issue is taste, think about what would make the vegetables irresistible for your and your kids -- roasted? With lots of garlic? In soup form? Au gratin? With an amazing vinaigrette? Choose the veggies that most appeal to you and your family and vary the preparation to turn it into something you can’t resist!
- Omega-3 fatty acids. You may have heard quite a lot about these powerhouses. They have quite the reputation of combating inflammation and have been recommended for decades as part of a healthy diet, but it has also been proposed that they may be important3 for the immune system. You can get them in oily fish, especially salmon, herring, mackerel, tuna; and in walnuts and almonds.
- Probiotics. There has recently been a lot of hype about gut bacteria and various studies about their roles in many different systems in our bodies. Turns out they may be pretty significant4 with regards to the immune system, and although the precise mechanisms are still being investigated, some probiotics may help5 keep gut flora healthy and functioning. Yogurt is one of the easiest ways to incorporate probiotics into a diet, but make sure you investigate the age-appropriateness of other forms, such as kefir and supplements.
5 Lifestyle Tips for a Healthy Body
Lifestyle is, of course, the other major contributor to a well-functioning immune system, so be sure to follow these tips as well as you can!
- Sleep. Being back at school can often mean later bedtimes and earlier wake ups, so making sure that you and your kids’ sleep schedule is consistent and healthy is crucial for maintaining immune health, since sleep deprivation can reduce natural killer cells that help the immune system fight infection. A good guideline8 is to aim for 13 hours/day for toddlers, 12 hours/day for 3-12 year olds, and 7-9 hours for adults.
- Exercise. Although we know the many benefits of regular exercise to our health, researchers have recently found that regular exercise may actually reduce the amount9 of viral infections we get by improving immune response, so make sure that you and the kids are getting some exercise every day!
- Sunshine. Vitamin D has been shown to be an essential vitamin10 for the functioning of our immune systems and sunshine is one of the best and most efficient ways that our bodies produce vitamin D. But a lot of our time nowadays is spent indoors, especially in the winter! There are plenty of foods11 that can help keep your vitamin D levels optimal, but make sure to talk to your pediatrician about finding a balance between brief periods of sun exposure and sunscreen use, and whether it’s necessary to supplement your, or your children’s, diet with extra vitamin D in the winter!
- Water. Although we’re well aware of the importance of staying hydrated, we don’t always heed that advice. When it comes to the immune system, water keeps your digestion functioning, which gives you the nutrients you need, and it helps your body produce lymph12, which are necessary to carry white blood cells and other immune system cells to where they need to go. So make sure you and your kids drink up!
- Hand washing. Finally, one of the most important steps13 we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading viruses is washing your hands. Make sure your kids make it a habit to always wash hands when they get home from school, before eating, and after going to the bathroom. Ideally, they should scrub for at least 20 seconds (or about the length of the Happy Birthday song!) before rinsing!