If you’ve got kids, the decision to send your child back-to-school this month (if it’s even an option) or keep them learning virtually or in home school is certainly a tricky one for parents. While there’s relief in regaining some semblance of normalcy, it can also be scary to try and figure out how to best support your little one’s health.
Supporting and boosting the immune system is a year round job and something that doesn’t just happen overnight.
Still, there are ways to naturally support and build a strong immune system that are actually quite achievable. From being sure to eat a nutrient dense diet full of vitamins, to getting some fresh air, these 12 immune boosters will help you send your littles off to school with a little more confidence – and are as good for adults as they are for kids.
Start the day with fresh juice shots.
Juicing is an amazing way to get in some extra veggies and immunity boosting foods you might not be able to convince your littles to eat otherwise. I love making a concentrated batch of some of my go-tos, pouring them into these cute little bottles and throwing one back each morning. My immune juice shot go-to ingredients: garlic, lemon/orange, ginger, turmeric, apple, a touch of manuka honey and carrot.
Experts say that up to 90% of your body’s immune system resides in you gut, so when you support your gut health, you support your immune system! Arm your kiddo’s immune system with good bacteria by introducing fermented foods (if they’ll eat them!) or a daily probiotic supplement (I love this one!).
Send your kids with a fun water bottle.
Hydration is key to immune health, and it’s way easier when your kids have a water bottle they’re actually excited about. Pick out a cute one or let them decorate it with soem fun stickers to help them get extra invested. Let them know the goal is to finish it by the time they get home. If you’re still having a hard time convincing them to drink their water, try adding one of these goodies to up the yum and fun factor: lemon, cucumber, strawberry or pineapple slices or mint leaves.
Keep sugar to a minimum.
Refined sugar is so good but can be so tough on the body. Too much sugar can wreak havoc on your gut health and lead to inflammation throughout the body. You don’t have to completely skip out on the treats though. Try some of these yummy refined sugar free desserts.
No matter the season, getting outside is always a good idea! Spending time in nature can actually increase the NK cells (the cells that destroy invading viruses and bacteria) that boost your immune system. (Pstt playing in the dirt isn’t a bad thing). If you don’t have time for a little morning grounding before heading out the door, encourage your kids to kick off their shoes first thing when they get home, put their toes in the grass and take some deep breaths. An after school or dinner walk around the block is always a great pick me up as well!
Soak up some vitamin D.
On that note, sunshine is obviously the best source of vitamin D, but if you live in a place where it’s hard to come by, you can always supplement it. Consider increasing vitamin d-rich foods like fatty fish, eggs and grass-fed beef or trying a vitamin D/K blend to be sure your minerals stay in balance!
After a long day it’s so easy to park in front of the TV and decompress (for kids and adults alike!). Try to get moving a little before the evening gets away from you. Some fun family friendly ideas:
- Take a family walk.
- Turn on a family-focused yoga video on youtube.
- Visit the park—even in the fall and winter months!
- Play frisbee, tag, or Simon Says in the yard.
Boost zinc levels.
A recent study found that zinc deficiency actually significantly contributed to immune dysfunction. Thankfully, zinc is relatively easy to incorporate into your kid’s diet. Some foods high in zinc include: chickpeas / hummus, seeds like pumpkin, hemp and sesame and nuts like cashews, and eggs and grass-fed red meat.
Eat vitamin A-rich foods.
Vitamin A is another vitamin that can boost your immune health with a specific role in supporting and protecting respiratory health. Look for vitamin A-rich foods such as: liver, egg yolks, grass fed butter or cod liver oil (which also contains vitamin D and K!).
Maintain good oral health.
Believe it or not, your oral health can affect your overall health, specifically because your mouth is an important part of your body’s microbiome. Some tips for supporting your child’s oral health:
- Use clean, nontoxic oral hygiene products.
- Brush twice a day for two full minutes (studies show better outcomes when the child is helped until around eight years old).
- Floss daily.
- Schedule regular check-ups with a holistic dentist.
- Find more great tips here.
Get plenty of sleep.
Sleep is one of the most powerful natural immune boosters for kids (and adults!). During sleep, your body repaires and restores and produces vital infection-fighting white blood cells. According to pediatric sleep experts, toddlers require 11 to 14 hours, and preschoolers need 10 to 13 hours and elementary through middle-schoolers need around 10-11 hours.
Send them with a nontoxic hand sanitizer.
Most schools aren’t lacking in sanitization efforts these days. Unfortunately traditional hand sanitizers and disinfectants can actually do more harm than good. Not only are they harsh and stripping for your skin, many contain harmful ingredients like synthetic fragrances, parabens, petroleum ingredients, phenoxyethonal, hydantoin and diazolidinyl which have been linked to everything from tumors to cancers and reproductive harm. Not pretty. See below for our safer and cleaner recs: