By Dr. Jenna Dye,
It is that time of year again—the kids are back in school! This means more circulating illnesses and germs. During this time, we can be more susceptible to illnesses and it can be helpful to prepare the immune system for the school season. The germs, viruses and illnesses our children are exposed can make the entire family susceptible, but there are some simple, natural ways to strengthen and support immunity for the entire family.
Diet: Foods high in sugar and processed foods can decrease the immune response to illness. This weakening of the immune system can make us more vulnerable to illnesses. Instead, focus on nutrient dense foods such as colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats and protein, which support a healthy immune system. In addition to food, it is extremely important to stay well hydrated. These tips are also useful during an illness to help strengthen the immune response.
Sleep: 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. The better quality sleep we have, the stronger our immune system will be.
Gastrointestinal Support: Our digestive system is directly correlated with our immune system. Constipation, diarrhea, gas and bloating are all factors that can decrease overall immunity. If any of these conditions are present, it is important to find the root cause and resolve any underlying factors. It can be beneficial for children to take a probiotic to support the immune system and balance the gut flora. Food sensitivities and/or food allergies can also hinder the immune system and should be avoided.
Nutrient Deficiencies: Vitamin D and Vitamin B12 are the most common deficiencies that can hinder the immune system. It is important to have levels checked to ensure proper supplementation. A high quality multivitamin, zinc and vitamin C can also be a great addition to a daily supplement regimen if needed.
Herbal Remedies: There are many herbs that can support the immune system and it is always best to consult with your naturopathic physician for guidance and proper dosing. My favorite herb for the entire family is sambucus/elderberry. It is well tolerated, tastes delicious and is an excellent 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, which is a fun activity for the entire family.
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 drjennadye.com.