Back to school is upon us! Now is a great time to start thinking about optimizing your child’s immunity for a brand-new year of learning. While sharing between friends is one trait that is promoted and encouraged during education, pathogens, which cause sickness, are not desired gifts. There are many ways to foster healthy immunity daily.
Make sure your child is getting adequate sleep each night. The Circadian Rhythm regulates the immune response. Cytokines are chemical messengers, responsible for communication between the body and the brain. Leukocytes and anti-inflammatory IL-10 levels are higher during the day, whereas t-cells and pro-inflammatory cytokine levels heighten at night. Consequently, when sleep is disrupted or inadequate, protective cytokines decrease, increasing inflammation, which makes the body more susceptible to illness. Not to mention, children require uninterrupted sleep for proper growth and development.
Deficiencies in diet create alterations in a number of immune responses; including impaired cell-mediated immunity; reduced number of circulating T-lymphocytes, particularly CD4+ helper T-cells and CD3+ CD25+ T-cells that bear the interleukin (IL)-2 receptor; decreased lymphocyte stimulation response to mitogens and antigens; altered production of cytokines; lower secretory IgA antibody response on mucosal surfaces; decreased antibody affinity; and phagocyte dysfunction. Children have a propensity to be picky, little creatures, yet the importance of nutrient-rich food remains. Some healthy, kid-friendly ideas are:
- Fruit & Veggie Smoothies (These can be packed into a thermos & sent to school!)
- Raw Vegetables with Greek Yogurt Dip or Hummus
- Diced or Pureed Vegetables cooked into Pasta Sauce & Casseroles
- Sprouted Grain Bread & Nut Butter Sandwiches
While whole food-based vitamins, herbs, and other natural supplements are all great ways to guarantee the gaps in nutrition are covered; additional support that directly impacts the immune system can be found in BetaKids gummy lozenges. This immune superstar contains Beta 1,3D Glucan, Selenium, and Vitamin D3. Parents find BetaKids to be a convenient, natural means of offering daily maintenance and support to their children’s immune responses. Kids enjoy the fruity flavor and chewable texture. Best of all, BetaKids is produced using natural ingredients and sweeteners, contains no artificial coloring or flavoring, is preservative and GMO-free, contains no gluten or lactose, and has no known side effects when used as directed.
4. Time Outdoors
Allow your child to spend as much time outdoors as possible. Not only does this promote more physical activity, but it also lowers stress, thus, creating synergy within the body. Vitamin D from sunshine is also essential to healthy bone and tissue growth because it acts as a hormone by regulating the amount of calcium in the blood and distributing the appropriate amounts of it to all cells.
Vitamin D is also integral to the immune response because it modulates the activity of immune cells. More time spent in nature absorbing Vitamin D, breathing in the fresh air, and regulating the stress response in the body is critical for optimal health and wellbeing. Additionally, a child’s environment should not be sterile. The introduction of microbes found in the soil is beneficial to building immature immune systems, which do not fully develop until later in adolescence. Let your kids play in the dirt! Moreover, your only cost for all the goodness the earth provides is time!
While maintaining a certain level of cleanliness around the home is imperative to staying healthy; an overly sterilized domicile can be counterproductive to building developing immune systems. Furthermore, the use of cleaners full of chemicals inhibits healthy immune responses by adding to the toxic load encountered on a daily basis. Instead, choose natural cleaners or use vinegar and baking soda as an alternative.
Maintaining a peaceful home during childhood allows children to thrive. A clinical study out of Sweden indicated that children from families living in stressful environments had lowered immune responses. This was due to higher cortisol levels. It was also noted that C-Peptide levels were lower. The conclusion drawn from the research was that psychological stress affects not only the immune system but also creates an adverse response in the insulin-producing B-Cells, increasing the susceptibility of diabetes. Some ideas for decreasing stress in the home are:
- Screen Time: Minimize the amount of time your child spends watching programs or playing games. The noise created by the television or the tablet can be overstimulating to the whole household. Less time plugged into a device means more time strengthening familial bonds. By staying more connected, your family will naturally learn how to cope during stressful times by knowing you are their strongest support system, and by following your example.
- Homework Load: Encourage your child to finish as much homework at school during the free time provided. This will help balance hectic evenings when time is so limited.
- Weeknight Dinners: Plan ahead as much as possible. Prepping meals on the weekends or sticking with less complicated recipes during the week will free up time and alleviate pressure.
- Extracurricular Activities: Children enjoy learning and growing through extracurricular activities outside of school. However, too many scheduled practices and events can create unnecessary strain on the whole family. Consider focusing on nurturing your child’s passion in one area, instead of dividing it amongst several interests. Less hustle and bustle means more time to ensure a balanced, healthy home life.
- Weekends/Holidays: Prioritize allowing your family the chance to relax without a loaded agenda. Doing so will provide even more time for connection and help offset the stress experienced in daily life. Children will not look back on their childhoods; wishing for more busyness, but they will cherish the moments spent forming secure attachments while growing up.
Here’s to a Healthy, Happy, New School Year!
Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Military Nutrition Research, Military Strategies for Sustainment of Nutrition and Immune Function in the Field, Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 1999. 7.
Aranow C., Vitamin D and the immune system, J Investig Med. 2011;59(6):881–886.
Emma Carlsson, Anneli Frostell, Johnny Ludvigsson, Maria Faresjö, Psychological Stress in Children May Alter the Immune Response, The Journal of Immunology March 1, 2014, 192 (5) 2071-2081