The summer is drawing to a close so thoughts are turning back to school. *Boo hiss* ! I've just reviewed Nurture immune-boosting drinks, which may be one way to help stave off the back-to-school germs, but Dr Sarah Brewer has also provided some other Top Tips for Getting Your Child Back to School.
Top Tips for Getting Your Child Back to School
When kids go back to school they will inevitably come into contact with a new batch of common cold viruses. These annoying infections spread rapidly from child to child and amongst family members. When children are in the peak of health, they can fight off infections with few, if any, symptoms, but when they are under par, they may develop one cold after another. And cold viruses are involved in 40% of asthma episodes in school children.
Boosting children’s immunity is not something that can be done overnight. But good nutrition can enhance their immune health, preparing them for the cold and ‘flu season ahead.
1. Fruit and vegetables are important sources of vitamins, minerals and immune boosting substances which protect against infections. Encourage them to get their five servings of fresh fruit, vegetables or salad stuff per day.
- Hide puréed vegetables in soups, stews, pasta sauces and swirled into mashed potato
- Grate carrot into sandwiches and salads
- Give raw veggie sticks with healthy dips (guacamole, humus) as a snack
- If your children won’t eat many vegetables, give them a multivitamin supplement designed for their age group.
A fruity drink made from unsweetened fruit juice and water, with no added sugar, preservatives or artificial sweeteners, is great for quenching thirst. I give my kids I Mune Nurture which includes key vitamins and minerals that contribute to immune function, plus betaglucans which reduce susceptibility to respiratory infections in young children.
2. Oily fish (eg salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, pilchards) contain essential fatty acids that help to maintain healthy, flexible cell membranes. This is especially important for helping immune cells respond to incoming signals.
3. Vitamin D Kids with good vitamin D levels are less likely to experience a cold than those with low levels. Vitamin D levels tend to fall in autumn and winter when sunlight is too ‘weak’ to stimulate vitamin D production in the skin. Ensure their levels are topped up over summer with some sensible sun exposure – 15 minutes a day is all that’s needed. After that, ensure they’re protected by sunscreen (SPF 16+), covering up and staying in the shade. Avoid the hottest sun between 1am and 3pm.
4. Probiotic bacteria help to stimulate immunity against both bacterial and viral infections, and can reduce the severity and duration of a cold if one should develop. These effects appear to be due to increased activity of T-lymphocyte cells which regulate immune responses. Kids love fermented milk drinks and live Bio yoghurts, so this shouldn’t be too difficult to achieve!
5. Moderate exercise enhances immune function and decreases the chance of developing upper respiratory tract infections. Encourage your kids to be active for at least 60 minutes per day. Running around playing with friends, ball games, cycling, dancing and swimming are ideal.
6. Good hygiene is vital to limit the transmission of respiratory infections. Teach youngsters to:
- use a tissue to cover their nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing
- use each tissue only once, then bin it.
- wash hands regularly, before eating and after blowing their nose; using cold water and soap is fine but it’s essential to dry hands properly.
Did you know…
Using antibacterial hand wipes, gels or sprays will provide extra protection.
Wipe down door handles and light switches regularly - germs can survive on plastics and stainless steel for many hours.
Dr Sarah Brewer MSc (Nutr Med), MA (Cantab), MB, BChir,RNutr, MBANT, CNHN is a GP, a Registered Nutritionist, a Registered Nutritional Therapist and the author of 60 popular health books, including the Essential Guide to Vitamins, Minerals and Herbal Supplements (Right Way)
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