Back To School - Keeping Your Child Healthy
It’s hard to believe that school has already begun for our children. One of the biggest concerns we face is to keep our children healthy, as they re-familiarize themselves with the school environment and the germs and viruses that come with it.
It is estimated that children suffer from approximately 5-7 colds per year and the classroom environment makes it easy for the colds to get passed from one child to the next.
As a parent, it’s very difficult to try to prevent your child from getting a cold, but there are things we can do to reduce the severity of the colds when our children come down with one.
- Nutrition and Exercise - are key to a healthy child. Children should get at least 60 minutes of exercise daily along with eating a healthy diet, low in saturated fats.
- Go to Bed! - Sufficient sleep is often overlooked, with 8 hours being the ideal amount for the average adult to function properly. Children’s sleeping habits need to be very different. Their bodies and minds are processing, learning and growing so much. Take for instance, a child approximately 7-12 years old, should get between 10-11 hours of sleep per night in order to process information and function properly the next day. A 3-6 year old should have between 10-12 hours per day of sleep.
- Wash your hands! - One of the most common ways to pass a cold from one child to another is by touching common objects like desks, door knobs, etc. Teaching your child to wash their hands properly and often, will help keep them healthy.
When my nephew Aidan was five, he asked to use the restroom at school. When he was finished, he began to wash his hands and he did what his mother told him … he sang the ‘Happy Birthday’ song ... twice. Of course, in typical Aidan fashion, he sang it at the top of his lungs so that his classmates and teacher could hear him – washing his hands for the proper length of time. When he was done, he came out of the bathroom with the biggest, proudest smile on his face. Not only did he make everyone laugh including the teacher, but his hands were clean too!
- Supplements - are essential to keeping your child healthy, especially if they are a picky eater. Nutritional supplements are a good way to ensure that your child is meeting or exceeding their minimum daily needs to keep their immune system strong. Some very good and effective supplements include:
Probiotics – a great way to boost the immune system. Studies have shown that children 3 – 5 years of age who consumed probiotics twice daily for 6 months had a 53% reduced incidence of fever, a 41% reduced incidence of coughing, and a 28% reduced incidence of runny nose. Look for products that contain multiple probiotic strains to obtain the greatest benefits.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids - Omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA have been shown to support a healthy immune system. Long-term consumption of EPA and DHA together in fish oil resulted has been shown to result in fewer episodes and shorter length of illness in children 9 to 12 years of age.
Zinc - Zinc has long been known as an important nutrient. Studies have shown that when taken within the first 24 hours of the onset of a cold, zinc reduced the duration and severity of the common cold.
Some of the more common symptoms of low vitamin D are:
- Muscle pain and weakness
- Muscle cramps
- Chronic pain
- Weight gain
- Restless sleep and/or insomnia
- Poor concentration and memory
5. Water - We don’t often think of water as a supplement but it is an essential part of a daily life. Increasing water intake prevents dehydration and improves brain function, restlessness and focus in the classroom. Encourage your child to drink water, either by drinking out of a water fountain or by carrying a water bottle to remind them to drink water frequently.