TAKE A PROBIOTIC
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, “probiotics may provide novel approaches for both disease prevention and treatment.” Probiotics in the GI tract help to reinforce the barrier function of the intestinal lining, thus lowering the chance of bacteria in the intestines entering the blood stream. When shopping for a probiotic supplement, look for lactobacillus, bifidobacterium and saccharomyces — the three most extensively studied and used probiotics, according to NCBI. The amount of probiotic a child should take is dependent on factors like age and weight. Your pediatrician can help guide you with dosage.
EAT LESS SUGAR
The well-published and loved pediatrician Dr. Sears wrote the following about sugar: “Excess sugar depresses immunity. Studies have shown that downing 75 to 100 grams of a sugar solution (about 20 teaspoons of sugar, or the amount that is contained in two average 12-ounce sodas) can suppress the body’s immune responses. Simple sugars, including glucose, table sugar, fructose and honey caused a 50 percent drop in the ability of white blood cells to engulf bacteria.” If your child has a sweet tooth, don’t worry. Nutrient-dense but still sweet foods like dates and apples can satiate and nourish him or her, and should be a mainstay in the house and the lunchbox.
GET MORE SLEEP
Sleep and immune health are closely intertwined. According to the Mayo Clinic, “during sleep, your immune system releases proteins called cytokines. Certain cytokines need to increase when you have an infection or inflammation, or when you’re under stress. Sleep deprivation may decrease production of these protective cytokines. In addition, infection-fighting antibodies and cells are reduced during periods when you don’t get enough sleep.” The Mayo Clinic says that teenagers need nine to 10 hours of sleep and school-age children may need 10 or more hours of sleep. Try diffusing lavender essential oil and have a no-electronics-in-bed policy to promote better sleep.
ENJOY A WARM SOAK
A warm bath, especially one with Epson salt, promotes your body’s lymphatic system. Your lymphatic system includes your spleen, thymus, lymph nodes and lymph channels, as well as your tonsils and adenoids, and is responsible for removing waste and toxins from the body. Try making a bath for your child once or twice a week and encouraging him or her to soak with bath toys or a book. If you don’t have a bath, a steam shower is also beneficial.
Becca Edwards is a holistic health coach/advocate and owner of b.e.WELL+b.e.CREATIVE (www.bewellbecreative.com).