Helpful advice for parents on common children’s issues
Fall can be a chaotic season, filled with back-to-school shopping, meetings and the start of a new academic year. These transitions can be stressful and, especially for children, increase the risks of cold and flu.
The best solution is to bolster our immune systems through healthy diet, lifestyle and the right botanical and nutritional supplements. Keeping your family healthy during this important seasonal shift is a challenge, but it is achievable with the right health promoting habits.
Stress can suppress the immune system, and today, children encounter more stress than in the past. One of the consequences of being part of the “wired generation” is that there is less time for quiet relaxation and unwinding.
Allow your children to be children. Encourage playtime, especially non-electronic playtime. They should also be active at least 30 minutes each day. Not only will exercise enhance their overall fitness and boost brain power, but it will also help them control stress and support their immunity. It’s best if they can play outside, in fresh air and nature.
Help your children adapt to stress. Stress is a part of life, so finding healthy ways to deal with it is an essential skill. Take time to communicate with them. The simple act of asking about their day can open a door into their lives and allow you to help them navigate any challenges they may be experiencing.
With any stressful event, and returning to school is certainly one of them, it’s important for you to help them prepare. You may want to role play certain scenarios: meeting new teachers, responding to bullying, or having to speak in front of the class.
You can also help by introducing your children to relaxation techniques. Mindful meditation and gentle yoga are two mind-body relaxation practices which have also demonstrated great benefits for children of all ages.
Good sleep is fundamental to immune health and our body’s ability to repair itself, while lack of consistent, quality sleep can be detrimental—physically, mentally and emotionally. Though it’s never enjoyable to do battle with your children, this is one instance where it definitely pays to stick to the rules.
If kids ate exactly what they wanted, sugar would be more valuable than diamonds. The real value however, is in good nutrition which boosts energy, immunity and overall health. We are fortunate to live in a time when we can obtain healthy, nutrient-rich and good tasting foods. We may have to go off the beaten track to get what we need, but believe me; the extra effort is well worth it.
I recommend buying organic whenever possible. Yes, it will be more expensive, but the payoffs are enormous. Organic foods have fewer toxins and more vitamins and minerals than conventionally grown foods. When buying animal products, like chicken or milk, organic brands will help you avoid hormones and antibiotics that have become an unfortunate staple of factory farming.
Avoid partially hydrogenated fats, corn syrup, white flour, white sugar, chemical preservatives and additives. These highly processed ingredients challenge health in numerous ways. Be sure to include a protein source for each meal to help maintain blood sugar balance between meals, reduce cravings and keep your kids away from vending machines. And definitely make sure your children have a good breakfast. It’s a cliché, perhaps, but breakfast sets the nutritional tone for the day.
Make sure your children drink plenty of filtered water. Proper hydration supports the immune system, and every other beneficial mechanism in our bodies. Hydration also works to eliminate health robbing toxins and pathogens.
Immune-boosting nutrients for children
In an ideal world, we would get all of our nutritional needs met with a diverse array of nutrient-dense, natural foods. Today, it’s simply not the case. While supplement recommendations for children are much more limited than for adults, there are still a handful of products that can be used safely and effectively to support immunity and overall health:
- Vitamin C
Natural vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is a critical nutrient needed by humans. Vitamin C supports numerous biological functions, including healthy growth and development. It helps to combat the psychological and physical effects of stress and is vitally important for a strong and healthy immune system.
Probiotics, aka beneficial bacteria, are important health boosting supplements. Specifically, the two strains Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium lactis have demonstrated a wide range of benefits, including immune support. While commonly used to help regulate digestion, it turns out that daily supplementation with these friendly gut bacteria can fight colds and flu, too. This is, in part, due to their unique ability to stimulate dendritic cells, which play a critical role in immune function.
- Medicinal Mushrooms
Organic medicinal mushrooms of various species can offer support for the whole family during the fall and winter seasons. Medicinal mushrooms, especially Reishi, Cordyceps, Maitake and Shitake, boost immunity and overall health, while helping the body adapt to stress during the seasonal transitions.
A high quality children’s multi-nutrient that includes vitamins, minerals and trace elements is important for healthy development and immune support.
Perhaps the most important thing you can do to support your child’s health is to create regular family time. Sitting down together for dinner each night offers numerous benefits and allows everyone in the family to slow down, relax and reconnect. Laughter stimulates the immune system, as does overall happiness and a positive outlook. By building quality family time into your schedule, you can directly support your children’s health and simply enjoy life.