How can it be August already? So crazy that school will be starting in just a few weeks - I'm not ready for summer to end!!! Have you noticed that all summer long the kids are free from runny noses, no coughs or colds and then as soon as school starts back up, BAM! everyone gets sick again?! No more!!! Now is the time to start boosting immune systems - Here are 6 tips to help get your family in tip-top shape for back to school!
1) ELDERBERRIES - Obviously my #1!! Elderberries are high in Anthocyanin bioflavonoids which are anti-inflammatory and help boost the production of cytokines that regulate the immune responses. These bioflavonoids also help fend off pathogens and allergens, helping prevent sickness. Elderberries are the star ingredient of Sweet's Syrup!!! Our family takes daily starting now to prepare for back to school. Here is a great article written by Dr. Kevin Curran, a biology professor at the University of San Diego explains more about the connection between elderberries and the immune system.
2) EAT LESS SUGAR!!! So many sweet temptations during the summer - popsicles, ice cream cones, lemonade and soda. Sugar and your immune system are NOT friends. As little as 100 grams of refined sugar reduces the ability of the white blood cells to destroy bacteria by 50% for TWO WHOLE HOURS - that is a long time!!! ICutting out sugary drinks is a great start- including all juices which are LOADED with sugar and the obvious culprits like sodas. My kids drink water which supports your immune system not paralyzes it!!
3) PLENTY OF SLEEP!! I’ve learned the hard way that you can eat all the right foods, take all the right supplements, do all the right things but if you don’t get enough sleep your body will crash and burn. Every single time I’ve gotten sick in the past 8 years since changing my lifestyle, it has been during a stressful time when I haven’t gotten enough sleep. Less sleep means our body is bombarded with cortisol and adrenaline. When these hormones are elevated, immune response is decreased.
“Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child” is my sleep bible for my kids - we’ve always done an early bedtime and it works for us. At 4 .5 and almost 7 they sleep from 7:30 until 7:00 (it took us a LONG time to get to this later wake time - forever they were both waking before six, yikes). During the summer we’ve pushed it back until 8:00 and are bumping it back up in anticipation of school starting. Time to get back on track!!
4) EAT YOUR GREENS!!! The vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, antioxidants, fibers, oils and acids found in vegetables are your immune system’s BFF. These compounds fight inflammation and infections and support healthy immune cell function . I aim for something green every single meal. For breakfast we do a green smoothie and green muffin, lunch includes a raw veggie and dinner always includes a vegetable. Want a snack? Here’s a crudite platter. I’m a big fan of Juice Plus, which supplies all the daily servings of fruits and vegetables in kid approved gummies, we have used them since the kids were babies! Here is a blog post all about how I hide veggie’s in my kids food - so important for a healthy immune system!!
5) VITAMIN D!!! Sufficient Vitamin D exposure is critical for a healthy immune system and helps our body fight infections.A recent Japanese study showed that children who took 1000 IU of Vitamin D a day were FORTY PERCENT less likely to get the flu - that is impressive!! Deficiency is so common with increased time indoors - spend time outdoors and soak it up! We wait about ten minutes before applying sunscreen to receive proper exposure and still practice sun safety. We also supplement with drops that also include Vitamin K (more details on this important combo in this blog post).
6) PROBIOTICS!! Did you know that 80% of your immune system is found in your intestines? Poor diet and overuse of antibiotics destroy a healthy gut. We work hard to incorporate fermented foods including kombucha, kefir, yogurt (we do dairy free Kite Hill or make our own) and sauerkraut. If your diet lacks these foods look into a probiotic.
Enjoy the last SWEET bits of summer and STAY HEALTHY!!!!