Back to School Health for Kids and Immunity by Dr. Spomenka Bizic ND
As we shift back into the school year it is a good time to encourage and remind ourselves of healthy habits for kids and the home. Routine and early bed times are really important wellbeing. Children thrive within structure, and the body needs rest to integrate all the growth, change, and learning that goes on during these important years.
When we talk about back to school health, we often think about immunity and cold and flu season. This is because kids tend to be spending days together, in groups, and sharing a lot of their germs! Encourage hand washing and not sharing food/drinks/glasses/etc. with their friends. Get them their own re-usable water bottle to bring to school (so they can skip the fountain).
Another crucial lifestyle piece is less screen time. Less screen time means less stimulation (stress) which depletes the immune system through low-grade cortisol being released in the body. Instead encourage reading, music, play, or whatever special interest your child may have.
Focus on diet!
The most important way to support immunity and health all year round, but especially during the school year for kids is through their consumption of healthy whole foods.
Conventional dairy and especially in high amounts (daily) will cause congestion, so if your kiddo suffers from stuffiness or allergies consider changing this element. Sugar suppresses the immune system and causes inflammation. Try to eliminate most sugar and even fruit juice – fruits are fine as they contain important vitamins, minerals and fiber. Opt for vegetables to be the focus, along with high quality proteins (beans/legumes, fish, fowl) and some healthy fats (nuts, seeds, olive oil). The best is to work with the colors of the rainbow and make sure they’re getting an array of leafy greens, red peppers, orange carrots, purple eggplant, you get the idea!
Another way to get kids interested is by inviting them to participate in food prep: maybe encouraging autonomy by having them choose which veggies they’d like to eat, finding a recipe, etc.
What about supplements?
While I believe children mostly do not need to be taking supplements there are different scenarios where kids need extra support.
Some of the supplements that are safe for kids, help support immunity and have been shown to decrease scores of cold/flu severity and incidence in children are:
Zinc (lozenges are great)
Probiotics (try to get these through fermented foods such as coconut kefir, saurkraut, kimchi)
*probiotics especially have been shown to decrease the amount of days a cold hangs around and severity of symptoms, as well as decreasing the need for the use of antibiotics
*Always make sure to check in with your Naturopathic Doctor or healthcare provider about dosages and what you are giving your child.
DIY Hand sanitizer recipe!
This is a great homemade hand sanitizer recipe for those of you looking something with a few natural ingredients.
¼ cup aloe vera gel
5-10 drops lavender EO
5-10 drop lemon EO
Notes: I put 5-10 because this will depend on your sensitivities to scent or strength of the oil. As always even with natural scents/oils be careful with any sensitivities and try it on the skin first. Make sure to tell your kiddo this is a non-consumable. Store in a tube, small tin, or any other creative idea you have!
Wishing you a happy and healthy September,
 King S, Glanville J, Sanders ME, Fitzgerald A, Varley D. Effectiveness of probiotics on the duration of illness in healthy children and adults who develop common acute respiratory infectious conditions: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Br J Nutr. 2014;112(1):41–54. doi:10.1017/S0007114514000075