By Dr. Jenna Dye, Naturopathic Physician

Summer is ending and our kids are preparing for the new school year. Some of us are more susceptible to illnesses than others and it can be helpful to prepare the immune system prior to the school season. The germs, viruses, and illnesses our children are exposed to can make the entire family susceptible. Here are some simple, natural ways to strengthen and support immunity for the entire family.

Sleep: Oftentimes our kids have a different sleep schedule in the summer. They stay up later and sleep in later. It is helpful start a good sleeping routine a few weeks before school starts. Bedtimes should start earlier to properly adjust to the upcoming school schedule. Eliminate electronics at least 30 to 60 minutes before bed. Electronics overstimulate the brain, which can lead to difficulty falling asleep and/or staying asleep. Implement a healthy sleep routine that will last throughout the entire school year. Our immune systems will be much stronger when we have good quality sleep.

Diet: Highly processed foods and foods high in sugar can negatively affect the immune system, making us more susceptible to common illnesses. It is helpful to increase nutrient dense foods such as colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and protein to help support the immune system. During any illness it is also important to decrease sugar and stay hydrated for a faster healing response. Incorporate these healthy food choices all school year by packing nutrient dense school lunches and drinking plenty of water.

Support the Gastrointestinal System: Our digestive system is directly correlated with our immune system. Constipation, diarrhea, gas, and bloating are all factors that can decrease overall immunity. I often recommend school age children start a good probiotic to support the immune system and balance the gut flora. Food sensitivities andor food allergies can also hinder the immune system and should be avoided.

Sambucus (Elderberry): This is my favorite herb for kids and adults for general immune support. It is well tolerated and tastes delicious. It is a good source of vitamin C and antioxidants to support the immune system. It can be taken to strengthen the immune system as well as used during acute illness to help shorten the duration. You can find over-the-counter syrups or make your own. It is a fun activity for the entire family.

Nutrient Deficiencies: Vitamin D and vitamin B12 are common deficiencies that can hinder the immune system. It is important to have levels checked to ensure proper supplementation. A high-quality multivitamin can also be a great addition to a daily supplement regimen. Additional nutrients such as zinc and vitamin C can also be very supportive.

See your naturopathic physician for more individualized support: Underlying health conditions can also affect your immune system. A naturopathic physician can offer a more personalized approach for your specific health care needs.

Dr. Jenna Dye is a licensed naturopathic physician. Her role is to support the body’s foundation to restore and maintain optimal health. Together with her patients, this is achieved by identifying and removing barriers that may be impacting health while creating a healing environment. For more information, visit