3 Ways to Boost Your Child’s Immune System
The school year is upon us and for parents across the country, we know this means sniffles, coughs, and restless sleep. The school year may be exciting for parents and kids alike, however, the introductions of hundreds of kids can easily result in an overload on the immune system. That means that now is the time to boost your child’s immune system and here are three ways to do it.
1. Improve sleep habits
Sleep is likely the most important ingredient when it comes to maintaining your child’s immune system. From toddlers who need up to 12 hours of sleep each day to your high schooler who should get around 9 hours of sleep it is important to create a sleep-inducing environment. In a time when toddlers are commonly put to bed with tablets and devices and older children sleep with their smartphones, it can be difficult to manage your child’s sleep sufficiently. Televisions, tablets, and smartphones use blue light which can reduce melatonin release and thereby affect your child’s level of sleep.
Sleep deprivation has been shown to create a higher risk for susceptibility to illness. This occurs because the immune systems fighting cells become less active. A lack of sleep can also contribute to higher stress levels which can lead to decreased immune system function.
2. Start serving more plant points (aka fruits and vegetables)
We all know that vitamin C is important to keep your immune system running well. Phytonutrients help to increase the production of white blood cells which fight infection and interferon, an antibody responsible for blocking viruses by coating cell surfaces.
Foods that provide immunity-boosting phytonutrients are carrots, green beans, oranges, and strawberries, though the list of healthy fruits and vegetables is exhaustive and should be added to each meal and snack. In addition to improving immune health, these same nutrients have also been shown to improve protection against cancer and cardiovascular disease.
3. Play Together
Your children may already be involved in extracurricular activities or likely get a lot of time playing outside. Exercise is shown to increase the production of disease-fighting cells and increases blood circulation which brings oxygen to muscle tissues and organs while increasing the strength and endurance of the cardiovascular system.
While it is important for your child to exercise with friends there is evidence that shows playing with your kids, whether that is a bike ride, hiking, or playing sports together also helps to improve the immune system by providing comfort, self-esteem, and stress reduction which are all important to a strong immune system. So, instead of sending your child outside to run around, taking the opportunity to join them will improve both you and your child’s health.
Boosting your child’s immune system will not just help them stay healthy throughout the school year but can also create a strong system as they reach adulthood. A strong immune system can also improve overall health function to help fight off chronic diseases such as heart conditions and cancer. By serving more fruits and vegetables, improving sleep habits, and playing together you can ensure your child’s body is ready to fight off new viruses.