by Jennie Smith
Secondary Assistant Principal
It never fails…during the first two weeks of school, someone always gets sick in my household. Last year, it was me – a miserable round of bronchitis. But this year, it is my husband and my four-year-old, the two who don’t go to school. We had one of THOSE weekends…fevers, naps, whining…you know how it goes. My older two are staying away – like the family has a plague. They want perfect attendance and want to stay healthy. So, I decided to do a little research to see if I could help my family have a very healthy year. Here is what I’ve discovered:
|This is my four-year-old, Drew, feverish and resting on Sunday.|
A well-rested body is necessary to keep an immune system healthy. Keep the bed time as consistent as humanly possible – even on the weekends. Good rest also reduces stress; stress can have negative effects on an immune system.
We all know that a diet rich in vitamins and minerals is essential to good health. However, that may be a little more difficult to do in packing a child’s lunch. Carrots and yogurt have good immune system support and are easy to pack in a lunch box. Did you know that trail mix is full of Vitamin E, iron, and potassium? We know that oranges are packed with vitamin C, but kiwis, guava, and sweet red bell peppers are full of the same. One of my sons loves the mini peppers I send in his lunch. Add a little ranch dressing and he’s all set.
I’ve been wanting to try kale, but wasn’t sure how to get my kids to eat it. Kale is rich in vitamins and beta carotene. One mom suggested that kale be cut up and added to tuna, chicken, or egg salad. This seems like a great way to sneak in some immune boosting vitamins. Does anyone have a good recipe for homemade kale chips? Share with us in the comments below.
You can find more immune boosting ideas for a lunch box at: http://www.thedailygreen.com/healthy-eating/eat-safe/healthy-school-lunch-superfoods#slide-1
Dr. William Sears, a nationally recognized pediatrician, says that 100 grams (or 8 tablespoons) of sugar “can reduce the ability of white blood cells to kill germs by 40%” (Sears, 2013). One hundred grams of sugar is equivalent to drinking two sodas. It may be wise, for more than one reason, to be aware of how much sugar a child is taking in each day.
Drinking lots of fluids is not just a help when you are sick; it can assist in preventing those sicknesses
in the first place. Water adds oxygen to your blood cells – which helps them to function better. It flushes out the toxins your body takes in. It very simply keeps your mouth wet, which will prevent dust, dirt, and germs from lingering too long. Be sure to send a water bottle with your child and encourage them to drink throughout the day…even in the cooler months.
This is the one we as parents stress over and over again with our children, and it can’t be said too many times. This is the number one way to assist in preventing illnesses. My sons wanted a small bottle of hand sanitizer to keep at their desk to have handy when hand washing just isn’t possible. It may seem obvious to us, but remind your kids not to share water bottles and food. It always surprises me when I see two teens drinking out of the same container, but it happens much more than we would like to admit. Also, remind your child to keep his/her hand out of the mouth and nose. Nervous habits, like biting nails, can add a good number of opportunities for germs to make their way in.
If you have other suggestions for keeping your kids healthy and well, please believe me when I say, I would love to hear them! Leave them in the comments below. Here’s wishing you a healthy new school year!
Sears, W (2013). “4 Habits that Weaken the Immune System.” Ask Dr. Sears. Retrieved from http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/family-nutrition/foods-boost-immunity/4-habits-weaken-immune-system