Colds, flus, sinus infections, lice, chicken pox, shingles, head, foot and mouth… the list goes on and on. No matter what your child’s age, they seem to always come in contact with a virus or bug that is circulating throughout your community, over the course of the semester. In fact, the younger your child, the more often they seem to come home with a new symptom, a new bump or bruise, or a new complaint, right? One day it’s a cough and runny nose and the next, it’s a stomach ache and fever.
It can seem inevitable, but it doesn’t mean that it is guaranteed. Even if they contract one of those yucky bad bugs, it certainly doesn’t mean that it has to linger.
Here are a few of our best “back to school” recommendations** for keeping your immune system primed and ready to fight back against any foreign invaders.
1. Vitamin C is a powerhouse for our adrenals and immune system
Most people think of vitamin C when they think about cold/flu prevention. It’s a stand-out vitamin for immune and adrenal support and can be highly beneficial to take preventatively to keep your immune system strong and in charge. You can find this powerhouse nutrient in citrus fruits, and dark leafy greens, peppers, tomatoes and potatoes, to name a few (1). If your child is not taking a multi-vitamin, it could be beneficial to supplement with vitamin C-rich foods (or electrolyte-rich supplement such as this one we sell at Living Wellness), to boost their immune system.
2. Consume probiotics daily
90% of the genetic material in your body are microflora, including bacteria, fungi, viruses and other microorganisms (2). With that in mind, did you know that 80% of your immune system lives in your gut? (3). When you think about your body fighting off foreign invaders, you need to think about a whole host of the good guys fighting the battle inside your gut. When you have ample good bacteria, your body can more easily fend off the viruses, fungi, bacteria and other microorganisms that appear. When there is an overgrowth of bad bacteria, it’s easier for the bad guys to creep in and wreck havoc. That is why I always recommend my patients take a probiotic, on a regular basis, for optimal health (digestive and overall wellness), and especially during times of immune support. I recommend this one from Klaire Labs.
3. When under the weather, grab some elderberry
Many of our ancestors used to use elderberry syrup or whole elderberries to boost the immune system during times of sickness. Sambucus Canadensis, elderberry’s botanical name, contains 87% of the daily value of vitamin C, and large amounts of vitamin A, potassium, iron, vitamin B6, fiber, and beta carotene. It has also been noted to have many anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties. (4). I recommend elderberry drops to patients who are battling a cold, flu or virus, or a tincture that has the elderberry flower as a component. At Living Wellness, we utilize herbal tinctures as a natural form of immune support. The elderberry flower can also be found in natural, herbal teas at your local health food store.
See example immune boosting gummy recipe here.
4. Utilize nutritional IVs in times of need
As we’ve mentioned in few past blog posts (here) and (here), nutrient IV therapy is one of the most effective ways to get high doses of nutrients to support a specific condition or symptom. Because nutrient IV’s bypass the digestive system, patients can get high does of vitamins, minerals and nutrients without the side effects that may come with oral supplementation (ie. high doses of vitamin C). 100% of the nutrients are absorbed and can be readily used by the body. Although IV’s aren’t everyone’s favorite treatment to receive from their doctor, many patients feel significantly better shortly thereafter.
Buy a package of three, and get 50% off your third one!
5. Limit sugar and environmental toxins
During times of stress, our bodies become burdened with trying to process excess cortisol, and do not need to take on extra stress. Excess amounts of sugar, processed food, and environmental toxins can overburden our system, making it harder for our liver (one of our major detoxing organs) to catch-up. Toxins also inhibit our bodies from being able to process and absorb nutrients, which can lead to nutrient deficiencies.
When possible, I recommend patients avoid all added sugar and stick to real, whole foods. Instead of your child’s morning bowl of cereal, try preparing them a quick breakfast of eggs, frozen chicken sausage and pre-sliced fresh fruit. Instead of an afternoon package of fruit snacks or a granola bar, cut up some fresh veggies and serve them with hummus or guacamole, or have some nuts or no-sugar-added beef jerky on hand for a quick protein-packed snack (we love these snack sticks from Nick’s Sticks. You can grab some at Living Wellness!)
Environmental toxins include traditional house cleaning supplies, conventional body care products, hand soaps, lotions, candles and even plastics found in most water bottles. Do the best you can to avoid these toxins and your body will thank you in times of chronic stress.
Remember – consuming too much sugar can feed the bad bacteria, which can kill off the good bacteria from your probiotics. It’s important to keep your refined sugar intake low.
6. Get good quality sleep, at all ages
A British study followed more than 8,000 children from birth, to study the effects of sleep deprivation and obesity. In their research, scientists found that the children that slept fewer than 10 and a half hours a night at age 3 had a 45 percent higher risk of becoming obese by age 7, compared to children who slept more than 12 hours a night. (6) (7) Sleep is essential to overall wellness, disease prevention, and healing. Our body needs sleep to rest, recover and restore itself so that it can function properly. In fact, you may remember hearing sleep is even more important for children than adults to ensure proper growth.
Did you know that a child will spend 40% of his or her childhood asleep? (8) Sleep directly impacts a child’s mental, physical and emotional development. When in doubt, sleep more.
7. Practice stress management
We hear it over and over again, but for good reason. Stress, in all forms, is the root of disease. It is a burden on the body, and negatively affects our immune system by “suppressing the helper T-cells and over-expressing the T suppressor cells thus inhibiting the body’s defense mechanism against both infectious and non-infectious diseases.” (5)
If you can find a practice in your life that helps you de-stress, unwind and practice gratitude, your mental and emotional health will benefit greatly. I recommend meditation, yoga, journaling, exercise, walking, reading, listening to a podcast or just spending time in nature.
“Your body is a temple, but only if you treat it as one.” ~Astrid Alauda
When it comes down to it, we should be supporting our immune systems year-round, and not just when we are fighting a virus. The more we can do preventatively, the more quickly we will rebound when we do get knocked down.
If you or someone in your family is feeling under the weather, we encourage you to schedule an appointment with one of our doctors. We want to help you get back to feeling like yourself.
**The doctors at Living Wellness cannot diagnose or treat anyone without seeing this in-person as a patient. As always, please be sure to consult with your physician before following any of these recommendations. What’s best for others might not be best for you. Each patient requires their own, individualized treatment plan.