School is back in session and, in many parts of the world, back in the classroom. While normalcy is returning to our routines, how can you keep boosting your family’s immune system?
FMCA Co-Founder and Chief Wellness Officer Elyse Wagner, MS, CN, LMHCA interviews Jennifer Pickett, FMCHC, host of the Healthy Harmony podcast, about some basic tips that you can implement with your family today!
“What can you do to be that biggest advocate for your family, for your children, for yourself? Go out there and really make yourself as healthy as you can be, and make sure that’s personalized as well.” FMCA co-founder and Chief Wellness Officer Elyse Wagner, MS, CN, LMHCA
Eat a Healthy, Balanced Diet
Eating a well-balanced diet that includes plenty of foods high in phytonutrients is an important part of maintaining good immune system function. A healthy diet rich in immune-boosting foods can help your body build infection-fighting white blood cells, repair injury to cells, and do whatever else it needs to do to protect against infection and illness.
Research has shown that sleep is essential for adults’ and kids’ immune system health as well as for general well-being. Lack of sleep has been linked to a variety of cognitive and physical health issues, including increased risk for obesity, diabetes, and heart problems. Not getting enough sleep can also lead to a disruption of hormonal function and reduced inability to fight off infections.
“We haven’t prioritized sleep, in fact we’re sacrificing sleep in order to be productive, and we’re shooting ourselves in the foot. It’s really not working, and so I think we’re really starting to understand how very vital sleep is. Sleep is a wonderful way for the body to do a deep cleanse and to reset and restore.” Jennifer Pickett, FMCHC
How much sleep you need can depend on your age, overall health, and individual needs. Look for signs that your child might be getting enough sleep, and try to set up good bedtime routines with your family.
Exercise + Movement
Studies have shown that moderate, regular exercise may boost immune system function. But how you exercise makes a difference. Research shows that moderate regular exercise may increase white blood cell activity and increase cells’ circulation throughout the body. Just 30 minutes a day can boost your immune system activity. Going outside and enjoying a walk or a bike ride as a family can be a great way to get that movement in together!
Can psychological factors such as stress affect your immune system? A wide body of research suggests that there is a link.
Both chronic and temporary stress can have physiological effects that can lower a body’s ability to fight off infections. Stress has been shown to lower the number and effectiveness of natural infection-fighting cells.
While some degree of stress is unavoidable for both grownups and kids, it’s important to keep an eye out for signs that your child may be stressed. Try to manage your child’s stress and do what you can to keep your own stress under control.
Children of all ages can benefit from mindfulness, which is the simple practice of bringing a gentle, accepting attitude to the present moment. It can help parents and caregivers, too, by promoting happiness and relieving stress. Mindfulness also helps children develop compassion, focus, curiosity and empathy.
And remember, mindfulness can be fun too! Studies have shown that laughter may actually boost immune system function by increasing antibody-producing cells and help T-cells perform more effectively. Laughter has also been shown to reduce the levels of stress hormones while increasing feel-good hormones such as endorphins.
Love our tips? Download our “Ultimate Guide to Picking & Storing Produce!”
Published: August 27, 2021