It’s back-to-school time! Whether homeschooling or attending to conventional school,  childhood is the perfect time for parents and kids to adopt great immune resiliency habits, and nurture a strong immune system, according to Dr. Joel Fuhrman, a nutritional researcher and family physician, and author of Disease Proof Your Child.  Dr. Fuhrman says that a healthy lifestyle and diet may help to prevent allergies, infections, colds, and shape a stronger immune system for later life.

The Real Sunny-D:

I’m not talking about that yellow drink that comes in the funny shaped plastic jug.  The body manufactures vitamin D when exposed to sunlight for about 15 minutes per day.  Many Americans test vitamin D deficient.  If you live in a cloudy or colder climate, you may want to consider supplementing at least 200 IU of D per day, according to Dr. Fuhrman.  Personally, I’ve found the need to supplement all year round, and increase my family’s dosage during our dark Ohio winter months.

Learn Your Alphabet:

In addition to taking a high-quality multivitamin supplement with all the letters and minerals, probiotics enhance immune function by reducing inflammation and getting white blood cells stimulated in the body, according to Gary B. Huffnagle, Ph.D, author of The Probiotics Revolution, and professor at University of Michigan Medical School.  Yogurt is a great source of probiotics that most kids love.  It can be frozen  into popsicles and even blended into healthy smoothies.  It’s also great mixed with berries.

An alternative to yogurt or lactobacillus acidophilus in yogurt or supplements is Ashwagandha.  This ayervedic herb supports and enhances adrenal function, according to Dr. John Douillard, Ph.D. and chiropractor, author of Perfect Health for Kids.  Because the adrenal glands glands produce cortisol when stressed, immunity can often be suppressed.  Ashwagandha is great for stressed or tired kids, or when preventing colds.  Dr. Douillard suggests 500 mg per day for kids 6 to 12, and 1,000 mg per day for kids 12 and older.

natural ways to boost immunity

Be Prepared for Hormonal Changes:

“’Puberty and adolescence are marked by dramatic shifts in and surges of hormones,’” according to Dr. Richard Shames, co-author of Feeling Fat, Fuzzy, or Frazzled? “’This is monumental, as far as the developing immune system is concerned… (it) is directly linked to hormonal influences, any…imbalance will affect overall immunity.’”  Selenium, according to Dr. Shames, is a strong antioxidant that will help balance hormones.  At ages 8 through 18, he recommends 100 mg per day.

Pack Your Lunch:

We all know that a good diet equals a healthy body and enhanced immune system.  The Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health says that kids who ate the most fruit of the sample group had a 38 percent lower risk of cancer (later in life).  The most powerful immune-boosting fruits include berries, cherries, plums, and pomegranates.  The strongest immune-defense veggies are dark leafy greens, tomatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, and carrots.  Whole grains and healthy fats from nuts and avocado are also recommended.

While increasing raw fruits and veggies, cutting back on sugar can also benefit the immune system.  White blood cells’ activities are hampered by sugar, according to Dr. Alan R. Gaby, author of the textbook Nutritional Medicine. 

Additionally, pinpointing food allergies is key to a good result.  Allergies and sensitivies can suppress the immune system by increasing inflammation in the body, according to Dr. Fred Pescatore, author of The Allergy and Asthma Cure.  “’Whenever there is extra inflammation, the body has less available energy to keep the immune system functioning as well as it should.’”

Take Recess

“’Once a child has been exposed to dirt and germs, the immune system responds by trying to expel those bacteria from the body, which strengthens immunity,’” according to Jane Sheppard, owner of and founding executive director of the Holistic Pediatric Association.

Avoid anti-bacterial soaps that contain triclosan, which is suspected to be a component of strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.  Instead, try witch hazel, alcohol, or tea tree oil as a natural antibacterial.

Be the Class Clown

Dr. Sheppard says that happiness “”releases chemicals that increase immunity.’”  Laugh often and have a great school year!

*Source:  Turner, L. (2014).  Super-Immunity for KIDS.  Natural awakenings.  August.  24-25. 

What are you doing to help prevent “the ickies” this year?  Comment below with your ideas!