Viral and bacterial infections are all around us. if your child goes to kindergarten or school, he is exposed to many germs every day.
Many of these germs do not cause illness, but many that do can be serious enough to cause symptoms for your child and even your entire family.
Below are my top 5 tips for boosting your child’s immune system to ward off viral and bacterial infections.
1- Abundant and restful sleep
A good night’s sleep should be refreshing for the body. At night, our body can restore many functions, clean “bad things” and strengthen the immune system. School-aged children need 9-12 hours of sleep each night, so make sure you get them to bed on time.
2- Proper personal hygiene
Encourage your children to wash their hands thoroughly 3-4 times a day or as needed. Antibacterial soaps are not necessary, ordinary soaps are sufficient.
Teach children to cough or sneeze into their elbow to stop the spread of germs when they are sick. If they come home with the first signs of a cold or flu, start treatment right away and keep them indoors and well hydrated. At this stage, I recommend immune boosting tea and chicken noodle soup.
3. Boost your immune system
Make sure the whole family is eating a diet rich in nutrients that boost immunity. Vitamin C, zinc, and antioxidants are 3 top examples that can help our immune system function better.
Foods rich in these nutrients, such as fruits and vegetables, beans, and whole grains, should be part of our daily diet. Pay extra attention to colorful foods, as the rainbow of beautiful fruits and vegetables is immune-boosting and fun for kids.
4. Cut out sugar and sweets
Sugar is not good for your immune system. Sugar is found in chocolate, muffins, cereal, yogurt, ice cream, sugary drinks, and more. In fact, many of the foods advertised to children are high in sugar.
White blood cells are the fighters that kill bacteria and viruses when they attack the body. However, when your child eats sugar, their immune system function is reduced for at least 6 hours and our fighters (white blood cells) cannot do their job.
5. Get enough vitamin D
Most people, including children, are vitamin D deficient and should take quality vitamin D supplements during the fall and winter (and get plenty of sunlight each season). Doses are based on age and body weight. talk to your naturopathic doctor to find the most accurate dose and supplement for your children.
With viral and bacterial infections all around us, especially in crowded communities like school and daycare, use these tips to keep your kids healthy.
Dr. Shadi Sarebanha, ND, PhD, is a Naturopath for Adults and Children at National Integrated Health Associates in Washington, D.C. With extensive global research and experience, she guides patients of all ages to empowerment. Her areas of focus include pediatrics and women’s health, autoimmune conditions, thyroid issues, digestive/gastrointestinal health and disease, and mental health.