Prevention & Recovery

How to strengthen your kid's immune system

Author: Canadian Living

Prevention & Recovery

How to strengthen your kid's immune system

The best way to help your kid sail through childhood with a healthy, strong immune system is to stay on top of vaccination schedules. Vaccines help the immune system recognize infectious organisms  - such as highly-infectious whooping cough  - and attack these infectious organisms before they spread and make your child sick.

Click here to see Canada's latest vaccination schedule for pre-teens and adults.

But between vaccinations, you can help your child boost their immune system and fight off less harmful, seasonal germs with these simple practices.

1. Establish a sleep routine
Health experts agree that a good night's sleep allows the immune system to regenerate itself and fight off disease. Especially in back-to-school season, a rigorous sleep schedule helps little energetic bodies wind down and busy minds rest. A sleep routine involves consistent bedtimes and wake times - choose a time and stick to it! It may help to incorporate consistent bath times and story times before lights-out so your child gets used to these steps prior to sleeping.

2. Get up from the desk

Sitting around all day in class then again at night doing homework makes not only the body sluggish, but the immune system sluggish as well. If your kids aren't involved in sports at school already, make a point to sneak 20 minutes of exercise into your kid's day at least three times a week. Send them on an errand to the store, make them help with the yard, or ask them what they'd like to do outside. You might be surprised!

3. Balance treats with nutritious foods
Empty calories hurt the immune system since the body isn't receiving the essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients it needs to fight disease. However, Halloween treats and sugary school snacks don't have to be avoided altogether - they're a fun part of growing up! Ensure each meal includes fruits and vegetables, try to limit candy consumption in one sitting, and give your child a glass of water or milk with the candy so at least they're well hydrated.

4. Watch for signs of stress
If the body is under constant stress, hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline race through the body and weaken the immune system. Kids aren't developed enough emotionally to express how or why they are stressed. As a parent, watch your child's mood, their daily patterns and school performance. While they may not be able to - or perhaps may not want to - tell you if something is wrong, your careful eye will catch if your kid is stressed out. Talk to your child, their teachers and your doctor to find out what is wrong and how to manage the source of their stress.  

Sources and more information: 
Kids' immune systems: The basics
http://kidshealth.org/parent/general/body_basics/immune.html

How to sleep better
http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/tc/sleeping-better-overview

Lifestyle changes to avoid the flu
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/influenza/DS00081/DSECTION=lifestyle-and-home-remedies

How to strengthen your immune system

http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/features/how-use-your-immune-system-stay-healthy?page=2


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Prevention & Recovery

How to strengthen your kid's immune system

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