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Immune Boosting Strategies for Back-to-School

Updated: Aug 23, 2023

Back-to-School brings so many great things! The excitement of a new year, new experiences, new friends, and even just the normalcy of getting back into routine. This time of year is full of backpacks and books, pencils and new shoes, and unfortunately all kinds of sickness too.

There are many strategies for a healthy, strong immune system. I am going to focus this article on my TOP five tips for a healthy year!

Eat a diet rich in color and a variety of fruits and vegetables

In order to build a healthy immune system, we have to eat the necessary nutrients to make healthy immune cells. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables helps to ensure that our kiddos are getting all of the good stuff to build a healthy immune system!

There are so many nutrients essential to a healthy immune system, but I am going to focus on just a few of the important ones!

Vitamin A - A fat-soluble vitamin that is stored in the body and used when we aren't getting enough of it in our diets. It is found in a wide range of yellow and orange colored fruits and vegetables, as well as leafy green veggies. Vitamin A is also found in liver, fish liver oil, egg yolks, and milk products (whole milk, cream, and butter). My personal favorite source of Vitamin A is grass-fed butter!!!

Vitamin C - A water-soluble vitamin that is highest in fresh, uncooked foods. You can find the highest sources of this vitamin in citrus fruits, rose hips, acerola cherries, papayas, cantaloupes, and strawberries. However, there are some vegetables that have a good amount of vitamin c in them as well. The highest include red and green peppers, broccoli, brussel sprouts, tomatoes, asparagus, dark leafy greens, and cabbage.

Zinc - Not a vitamin; it’s a mineral, and it is vital to a healthy immune system. Zinc deficiency is fairly common across the globe, but even in the US, due to inadequate dietary intake and depleted soils. Zinc can be found in most animal foods, with oysters being particularly high (not exactly a kid food, but maybe you can find a way to sneak them in, and let me know if you do, so I can learn how to sneak them into my food)!! It’s also found in high concentrations in red meat, egg yolks, and milk products. Whole grains, pecans, Brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds and ginger root are also a good source of zinc.

Get Plenty of Sleep

Studies show that a lack of sleep can affect the immune system, and even make it more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus. For kids ages 6-13, aim to get 9-11 hours of sleep each night. I have noticed, in my own kids, nearly every time they come down with a virus, it’s after a night with less than optimal sleep.

Stay Hydrated

The lymph system, which is vital to immune health, relies on proper hydration to transport immune cells throughout the body. If you are having trouble getting your kids to drink enough water, get creative! Use fun colored straws or cups, try adding fruit or cucumbers, or let them pour and serve themselves.

Make Sure Your Kids Are Active

The lymphatic system has no pump (like the heart) to circulate lymph fluid, this happens from muscle movements. Exercise makes the lymph circulate around the body and allows the immune system to function properly! Our kids move a lot less these days. We have to be intentional about getting them outside to play and move around!

Natural Remedies or Supplements When Needed (always check with your pediatrician first)

Elderberry Syrup - Store-bought or make your own

Garlic - Garlic is well known for helping your immune system fight off colds and flu.

Manuka Honey - Known for its antiviral and antibiotic properties, take ½-1 tbsp a day to boost your immune system.

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