Can you believe your kids have been back to school for almost a month now?! With after school activities, sports and new interactions, germs are flying around school and at home. Before you get stuck on autopilot with a busy new schedule, check out my reminders for keeping your family well this season by preventing cold and flu.
1. Feed your kids real food. I know how busy you are, I know you’re on the go, but make time to pack lunches full of real-food. If packaged foods are a must for your family, choose foods that are void of preservatives, artificial ingredients and refined sugars. Look for labels that say organic and non-GMO. You can also check out apps like Fooducate to help you choose organic, non-GMO foods for your kids.
2. Take vitamin D3. Ingested with food throughout the day, an adequately prescribed dosage of D can help prevent cold and flu by regulating immunity. Supplementing with D is especially important if you eat a mainly plant-based diet. D also helps boost your spirits and fight depression during the darker, cloudier months. And, another incentive to giving your tots D- A recent 2013 study highlighted by The Vitamin D Council showed that vitamin D helps to reduce ear infections related to cold and flu in younger children.
3. Have an acupuncture treatment. Acupuncture is a painless, drug-free approach you can include in your wellness routine to enhance everyday wellness. I suggest getting a “tune-up” with the change of each season and during back to school time. As an added bonus, acupuncture also helps boost energy while providing relaxation. And yes, kids can have acupuncture too- they tend to respond to a treatment quickly. Turns out, I've found that adults are bigger 'fraidy cats than kids when it comes to the (tiny, tiny, tiny) needles. If despite your best efforts you're experiencing the first signs and symptoms of a cold or flu, get right to a Chinese Medical practitioner- they can stop illness in its tracks in many cases.
4. Take probiotics. Did you know that almost 80 percent of your immune system lives in your digestive system? That’s right- the beneficial flora you hear about on television is responsible for building and protecting immunity. Don’t underestimate its essential role in everyday health- a high quality probiotic could be what stands between you and a cold or the flu this season. I love Klaire Labs because they offer GMO-free, multi-strain probiotic blends for infants, children and adults.
5. Get some ZZZs! At the end of the day, give yourself time to chill out and relax, then head to bed at a reasonable hour. Strive for eight hours of solid sleep. If you have young kids beginning kindergarten or all day school, expect them to need more sleep than usual as they adjust to their new schedules. They may even need an after school nap.
6. Wake up or rejuvenate mid-day with yoga. While all yoga is great for the immune system, specific poses such as Fierce Twist, Wall Splits and Bound Bridge help oxygenate the body. Yoga can keep the nasal passageways clear while maintaining digestion which is often implicated in a lowered immune response when its off.
Christine M. Dionese L.Ac MSTOM
Integrative Health, Medical & Food Journalism, Socially Conscious Business