Back to School/Healthy Kids Quick Tips
If you are like me, all of your children are headed back to school this week. My husband Scott and I have a freshman and junior in college and a freshman in high school. I couldn’t be more proud and excited for them!
I have been reminding my sons to get back into the habit of taking their probiotics and vitamins which they were pretty lax about over the summer so figured I would write a quick post on the subject.
If your children aren’t taking probiotics already, add some into their regimen as these beneficial bacteria support healthy function of many bodily systems including the immune system and with the absorption of vitamins and minerals. Studies continue to indicate the profound importance of a balanced gut microflora which can be negatively impacted by diet (sugar, pesticides in produce, artificial, and processed foods), antibiotics and other medications, antibiotics in the food supply, alcohol, and aging. 10-20,000 colony forming units per day is great but even less is beneficial. Be sure probiotics are encapsulated or contain other delayed-rupture technology to ensure the bacteria survive the trip through your acidic stomach and actually reach your intestines.
Encourage adequate sleep and a regular bedtime. Sleep allows the body to rest and regenerate and it balances hormones. A tired body is a stressed body with a tendency to have excess cortisol running around which increases inflammation and down-regulates immunity.
Tighten up diet. When kids are at school there is less control around what they eat so make meals at home as nutrient dense as possible with lot’s of organic greens, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and superfoods like cacao, flax and chia seeds. If your kids are heading off to college, reminders to get vegetables and fruit into every meal, along with lot’s of water, is worthwhile.
Consider a multivitamin and Vitamin D. Everyone should be taking vitamin D for healthy immune function, including children. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Institute of Medicine recommend a daily intake of 400 IU per day of vitamin D during the first year of life beginning in the first few days after birth, and 600 IU for everyone over age one. A good quality multivitamin helps to make up for nutritional shortfalls; 90% of Americans do not get the required nutrients from their diet alone. Children 12 and under need a children's formula so as not to accumulate fat soluble vitamins, over age 12 can take an adult formula.
Remind that hand washing is an essential tool in staying healthy before eating and after being out and about, and of course after using any and all restrooms. Antibacterial soaps are not necessary as a full lathering with regular soap and warm water will do the trick. Typical hand gels contain harmful chemicals so are best used when no soap and water are available.
Increase healthy hydration. Whether at school or off at college, a new schedule can disrupt water consumption. A dehydrated body, like a sleep deprived body, is stressed, leading to inflammation, imbalanced hormones, decreased focus, and fatigue. Water oxygenates your blood and flushes out toxins which can build up in the body, affecting immunity. A stainless or glass water bottle is the ticket. Avoid plastic water bottles as the bisphenyl-A and many other chemicals contained in the plastic, leech into the water. A filtered water pitcher such as Zero Water or Brita is helpful for dorm living versus cases of bottled water. A few glasses first thing in the morning is a good way to start the day versus juices which are loaded with sugar.
Lastly, plant the seeds of gratitude, positivity and mindfulness in your children as people that consciously practice these things take better care of themselves, make better choices, and in general lead healthier lives. The benefits of practicing gratitude are nearly endless and studies show that people of all ages who regularly practice gratitude by taking time to notice and reflect upon the things they're thankful for experience more positive emotions, sleep better, have increased immunity, express more compassion and kindness, and in general feel more alive. A positive thought or statement in the morning can change your childs being/energy, setting them up for a positive and productive day. And teaching your child to breathe consciously several times throughout the day will give them awareness around what being in balance/centered feels like versus rushing around in an unconscious, sometimes stressed state which can negatively affect immunity. They can then choose to come back to feeling balanced and centered whenever they want, simple by taking some conscious breaths. A win on many levels!
I hope you and your family have a wonderful, exciting, and balanced, late summer.
All the best,