Immune Health for School

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Immune Health for SchoolDisclaimer: this post is not suggesting that all kids should return to school or begin socializing with other children. Many families have decided to keep their kids out of school for the time being and that’s fine! Every family must make a decision that suits their personal, financial and health goals. However, many schools are opening up and parents are worried. The purpose of this post is simply to offer suggestions to those families who opt to return to a learning environment where they will be exposed to more people than in the previous five months.

Whether you are sending your kids back to school this fall or homeschooling with smaller groups, you may be looking for some immune boosting tips. The spread of Covid-19 is at the forefront of most families’ minds, however flu season is also coming up! Also, keep in mind that kids have had very little interaction with other children, and in some cases, this will be a child’s first encounter with schoolmates and teachers since March.

Whatever your circumstances are, having a strong immune system is imperative to fight off viruses and bacteria that will be waiting to inhabit your children’s bodies. It’s not a matter of if, but when. Our bodies are naturally designed to fight diseases and heal themselves; we just have to be intentional about what we are doing to give our bodies the best chance possible to fight off those harmful germs!

I am not a physician or nurse, so please ask your health care provider if you are concerned about starting any supplements. These are some things that my family practices on a regular basis to ward off illness.

Supplements

Since I’m not a physician or dietitian, it is not my place to tell you how much of each supplement to take. What I can provide you with is the recommended daily intake (RDI) and upper limits for each supplement, then let you decide. There are some brands that have a blend of many immune boosting nutrients in one. You will get more bang for your buck and ensure you’re getting a broader range of supplements!

  • Vitamin C
  • Elderberry
  • Vitamin D3
  • Echinacea, astragalus, zinc
  • Vitamin E

Citrus Water and Baking Soda

These are two things that are considered “old wives tales,” but some people (like myself) swear by them. I juice one whole lemon in warm water every morning before I do anything else. The idea is that it delivers a healthy dose of vitamin C, detoxifies your body and balances the pH.

Similar effects can be found with 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda in warm water. It also balances out the pH of your body to deter viruses and bacteria from inhabiting it, but baking soda has more anti-inflammatory effects as well. If you’re skeptical about the baking soda theory, watch this video!

Fiber and Probiotics

While I believe eating healthy foods should be the biggest source of fiber and probiotics, most Americans do not consume enough to make an impact on their immune health. Approximately 70% of our immune system is in our gut! Consider adding more fiber-rich foods such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables and beans to your diet. Our family takes a fiber supplement every day to boost our intake and flush out all of the things that would normally make us sick: sugars, cholesterol, excess hormones, pesticides and herbicides.

We also take probiotics before bed every night to give our digestive system a healthy dose of bacteria. Make sure your probiotics have multiple strains of healthy bacteria and at least 10 billion cfu. You can get probiotics naturally through fermented foods such as yogurt, kimchi, and pickled foods.

Whole Foods

As summertime ends and those long, hot afternoons are replaced by structured activities, we need to cut back on the popsicles, ice cream, and pizza and focus on the basic: whole foods. (I’m not talking about the store.) Focusing on eating foods in their natural state and consuming 9-10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day is a great place to start! No matter what your style of eating is, think about making half of your plate either fruits or vegetables. Buy foods with no other ingredients added such as brown rice, quinoa, beans, and nuts. Add flavor with fresh herbs and spices rather. This takes some time and adjustment for some families, but if you plan out your meals at the beginning of the week and make a shopping list, you will set yourself up for success.

Another mom tip: don’t shop with your kids or when you’re hungry if possible. You will surely come away with more packaged snacks and treats than you originally planned!

Daily Exercise

For most people exercise has been a struggle during the long quarantine days. But research shows that people who exercise have stronger immune systems and healthier lungs! Some theories suggest that exercise flushes out harmful bacteria and viruses from your lungs. It can also decrease stress, raise your body temperature (think fever mimicking), and improve energy. Taking walks outside will give you a double dose of immunity by exposing your body to vitamin D3.

If the gym is still out of the question for you, consider using your gym dollars for an online workout regimen or investing in some basic workout equipment like a mat and hand weights. Even 10-15 minutes of exercise per day can make a big difference!

Non-toxic Sanitizers

External factors such as hand sanitizers and disinfectants are also a key factor in protecting yourself and your kiddos, but not just any store bought products. About five years ago, I started switching over to non-toxic cleaning products because of some concerns I had about their impact on our respiratory, endocrine health, and environment.

Low and behold, this study was published in 2018 that supported my decision to switch. Unless you enjoy reading research articles, I’ll give you the cliff notes version. Some of the major findings concluded that:

  • Using national brand cleaners as little as once per week is as damaging to lung health as smoking 20 cigarettes per day.
  • Women are more affected than men.
  • Ammonia, bleach and quaternary disinfectants seem to be the primary culprits.

This may not seem like it directly relates to schools, but think about armoring your kids with strong lungs so that they can fight off the bad germs at school.

Here is a good guide to household cleaners by lung.org that can guide you in your decision making. Just remember that products labeled “green” do not necessarily mean they are safe. Also, keep in mind that even when schools ask for Lysol or Bleach wipes in your school supply list, you can request to send a safer choice. Just make sure to ask your administrator or teachers before sending them!

In closing, I think it’s important to remember that there is always risk when sending kids back to school, whether there is a pandemic or not. There are a lot of things that are out of our control when we drop off our kids and nothing we do at home guarantees immunity. My personal stance is that we should arm ourselves as best we can and let go of the rest!

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