There are choices you can make for your family to help them have strong and healthy immune systems. Then, as children bring home bugs from school, your whole family can fight them off successfully.
The first change should be dietary. Food provides energy for our bodies and there are several vitamins and minerals that are a fundamental part of a strong immunity, including the following:
- Vitamins A, C, E, Beta-Carotene and Selenium are antioxidants, which are part of our body’s natural defense mechanism – consumed in fruits and vegetables
- The mineral Zinc is important because of the role it plays in increasing your child’s resistance to infection – found in red meats, eggs and most dairy products
- Magnesium is another important mineral essential for boosting your child’s immune system – available in legumes and milk
Additional dietary changes that can help support your family’s immune systems include:
- Eat three meals and two snacks a day – making sure that at least four out of the five are rich in protein and dark green vegetables
- Purge the kitchen, eliminating all junk food and snacks – or – store them in a medium sized Rubbermaid container in the garage or master
bedroom out of the reach of children (make it an effort to get to these items so they won’t be consumed as easily or as frequently)
- Reduce sugar intake as much as possible – studies have shown a high intake of processed sugar adversely affects the immune system as it impairs
the ability of white blood cells to sweep up and kill bacteria
- Keep fruits, nuts and boxed raisins on the counter; celery with peanut butter or other “like” items in the fridge; go to your local health food store to find some other great tasting alternatives. (ie. European or whole grain breads, cheeses and fruits)
- Consider taking the time once every six weeks to write down what your family eats for a week and look for areas of improvement.
Finally, make sleep a high priority for your entire family. Long considered a restorative process that is a fundamental part of a healthy body, recent clinical studies have found that sleep is also a crucial part of a properly functioning immune system. In fact, a sleep-deprived
individual’s immune system includes patterns of alteration similar to those found in depressed and alcoholic patients.
It may be that your child just won’t sleep this long, but, while this chart is certainly not a requirement, it is most definitely a healthy guideline. The most important thing to remember is that good rest is a prerequisite for a healthy immune system, so begin to establish a simple routine Sunday through Thursday that encourages your child to get their much-needed sleep.
Some suggested routines to fight stimulation close to bedtime can include:
- No TV, VCR, DVD or computer/video games in the child’s room
- No homework right before bed
- Avoid TV, computer games within an hour of bedtime
- Play soothing music or have “Story Time” with little ones an hour before bed