Ten tips for a healthy immune system in kids
Children can be resilient when it comes to sickness, and their immune system is what’s to thank.
But we all know it’s hard to keep little hands from germ-covered toys, screens, noses, and mouths. That’s why it’s essential that kids are provided with the support they need to keep their immune system balanced and strong.
While some of these recommendations are the same as for adults, there are additional suggestions especially for children.
Ten tips for strong immunity in children
1. Keep sugar low
Many foods and drinks marketed to children are high in sugar, including juices. Limit intake and offer water (infused with fruit if need be) for stable immunity.
2. Teach cleanliness skills
As soon as they walk in the door, right before a meal, and after using the bathroom are particularly important times to ensure proper handwashing.
Encourage kids to sing Happy Birthday or the ABCs while scrubbing with soap and to rinse thoroughly when they are finished.
Getting good quality sleep every night is important for children. Stick to a schedule and an enjoyable nightly routine whenever possible.
4. Be mindful of food sensitivities
If chronic infections or sickness are apparent, food sensitivities may be at play. Work with your child’s doctor to rule out issues with or sensitivities to certain foods.
Bear in mind that there is a difference between a food sensitivity and an allergy – those with sensitivities can still test negative for an allergy and experience the unpleasant symptoms of intolerance. While blood-based allergy tests are a good place to start, if symptoms persist after a negative test result, it could be a sensitivity.
Make sure children have water bottles with them at school, on the playground, and in the car. Adequate hydration helps the body flush out toxins and invaders.
6. Vaccinate mindfully
When vaccinating, make sure your child is healthy prior to receiving the vaccine(s) and be mindful of how many are given at once so as not to overload the child’s immune system.
In addition, try not to suppress any mild symptoms a child experiences from a vaccination (although they should be monitored by a doctor). This is the immune system responding and building tolerance.
7. A healthy diet
They may not always want to eat their broccoli but offering a colorful diet of fruits and vegetables complemented by quality protein and healthy fats nourishes the immune system.
Try adding greens to a fruit smoothie and finely chopped vegetables to pasta sauce or baked potato for extra nutrients.
8. Limit toxic exposures
Exposure to germs and microbes are necessary for the immune system to develop and grow strong, but exposure to chemicals and toxins is harmful and could be detrimental to growing bodies.
Whenever you have the opportunity, provide your family with organic foods, pure and clean water, and plenty of non-polluted, fresh air.
9. A healthy gut
To keep kids’ guts healthy, try a children’s probiotic supplement and include fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, cottage cheese, and miso in their diets.
Another consideration for gut health is the use of antibiotics. While they’re absolutely vital in some cases, there are also times when they’re not completely necessary. Oral antibiotics can alter the digestive system’s microbiome and may ultimately impact digestive health either temporarily or long term.
10. Plenty of joy
As with adults, it’s important for children to just have fun. Many times, that means playing in the dirt and just running around. This is good for kids’ bodies and minds and getting dirty exposes them to bacteria and germs that ultimately help build strong immune systems.
After all, children are going to get dirty – that’s just part of growing up.
By being role models and teaching (and showing) children what to do to keep their immune systems healthy, we can encourage their good choices and watch them grow into healthy and balanced young adults.