Kids are going to get sick. It’s inevitable. In fact, we don’t want to keep them in a bubble. Exposure to the world actually helps strengthen and boost immune systems.
But there certainly are many things we can do to reduce the number of sick days. We can take specific actions to reduce the burden of illness on our bodies and there are ways to make sure the immune system is working optimally.
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What is the Immune System?
Our immune system isn’t one specific organ, so strengthening only the gut isn’t going to produce a strong immune system all by itself. Our immune system is a combination of organs, cells, and proteins that must all be healthy most of the time in order to function as a whole-healthy immune system.
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How Can We Give the Immune System a Boost?
The most important thing you can do for your immune system to work at optimal potential is to put healthy, nutrient dense food into your body.
The grocery store shelves are inundated with unhealthy foods, and we have to be informed and diligent in order to choose the most nutritious foods for our family.
Optimal nutrition is absolutely crucial for a well functioning immune system. Our kids today are bombarded with genetically modified foods, highly processed foods, dyes, and sugar.
It’s no wonder so many children have food intolerances, behavior problems, gluten intolerance, food allergies, and digestive dysfunction. Their little bodies are overwhelmed trying to discern any nutrients buried in the toxins they are consuming.
What Foods Will Boost Immune Systems?
- Citrus fruits—packed with vitamin C
- Spinach—good source of vitamin C, beta carotene, and antioxidants. Check out this post for delicious easy smoothies that include spinach!
- Yogurt—Choose yogurts with live and active cultures and avoid added sugars.
- Bone broth—Easy to make and packed with nutrition
- Sunbutter—loaded with vitamin E, magnesium, phosphorus, as well as several other minerals and nutrients
- Avocados—contain 20 different vitamins and minerals such as vitamins K and C
- Blueberries—one of the most nutrient dense berries with lots of vitamins C, K, and antioxidants
- Garlic—great source of B6, manganese, selenium , vitamin C, and many other minerals
- Protein–grass fed beef, seafood, legumes, and nuts are a few good protein sources
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Vitamin D for Immune System Health
Researchers have determined that a deficiency in vitamin D leaves you susceptible to infections. This study found that over half of U.S. adults have insufficient vitamin D levels.
Several studies have linked low vitamin D levels to decreased immune function and increased infections.
Vitamin D is actually a hormone and it influences nearly 3,000 of your genes, having a profound impact on your immune response.
There are only a few foods that contain significant amounts of vitamin D and the best way to optimize your vitamin D levels is to spend time in the sun.
If you aren’t able to receive your vitamin D from the sunlight, it’s often recommended to take a supplement.
I rotate cod liver oil with these vitamin D drops.
Speaking of Cod Liver Oil…
Cod liver oil is loaded with omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin A and vitamin D.
This study gave children daily lemon flavored cod liver oil over a course of 5-6 months which resulted in decreased upper respiratory infections.
Cod liver oil has many other health advantages other than boosting the immune system and is very beneficial for brain health.
I have tried several different brands with the twins and right now we like this cod liver oil brand.
Many parents tell me they struggle to get their kiddos to take fish oil due to the taste. The twins don’t love it, but they do take it without problems. I’ve always bought the lemon or orange flavored fish oil.
These are the fish oil brands I have used and liked for my kids:
- Carlson cod liver oil (lemon flavored)
- Nordic Naturals cod liver oil (orange flavored)
- Carlson fish oil (lemon flavored)
- Green Pastures fermented cod liver oil (oslo orange flavored)
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Do Probiotics Boost Immune System?
Clinical studies suggest that probiotics strengthen the immune system and are an effective treatment for various intestinal illnesses.
Probiotics also reduce the risk of the common cold and reduce the length of cold symptoms.
Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Saccharomyces are three extensively studied and commonly used probiotics in humans and animals.
I’ve given the twins probiotics since they were babies.
Some Probiotic brands that I have tried and like:
- Klaire Labs Ther-Biotic for Infants Powder —I was able to find this locally but if you are ordering make certain it is shipped with cold packs.
- Garden of Life-Dr. Formulated Organic Probiotic for Kids
- Garden of Life Whole Food Probiotic for Kids
Water Keeps Immune System Healthy
Drinking sufficient amounts of water every day is important for the proper functioning of your immune system as well as the functioning of every other system in your body.
Another way to make sure you are getting plenty of fluids is to make nutritious bone broths and use the broth when cooking rice, pasta, and soups.
Be sure to avoid concentrated fruit juices and definitely take a pass on sugary drinks. We don’t have juice very often but when we do, I give the boys fresh pressed juice.
You can keep a pitcher of fruit infused water to enjoy throughout the day. The boys love choosing the fruits we will add!
Numerous studies show that zinc deficiency causes severe immune dysfunction. A healthy level of zinc is also critically important for many other functions in the body. Since our bodies don’t store zinc, we have to make sure we are eating foods that are good zinc sources.
Some excellent foods that contain zinc are:
- seeds and nuts
- my favorite—dark chocolate!
Regular exercise is essential for optimal health and well being.
Researchers found that only 20 minutes of moderate exercise stimulates the immune system.
Going for walks, jumping on the trampoline, or swimming are great ways to get exercise. One of our favorites is to have a silly dance party!
Sleep and Rest
All of us parents know what sleep deprivation can do! Sleep is critically important to keep all parts of our body running in tip top shape.
Kids need a lot of sleep but they need good quality sleep.
It’s important for us to sleep without lights so we don’t disrupt our melatonin production. Make sure to put all screens away well before bedtime and no electronics in the bedroom at all.
What things have you found to keep illness away? Be sure to comment below to share!
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All content here should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the advice of your own health professional for any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health or the health of others See full disclaimer