Natural Immune Boosting Tips for the Whole Family
Back to school colds are the worst! It seems like you are just getting into the swing of things and all of the sudden one (or more!) member of your house starts sniffling. At best it’s inconvenient, at it’s worst people are missing out on school, work and sleep all for a crummy virus you know is going to show it’s head again next year! The germs are inevitable, most children get 7-10 colds per year until they are 7 years old, and as beneficial as they are for helping their immune systems grow up it’s normal to want to minimize sickness and absenteeism. Here are our top five tips for boosting your immune system, naturally.
Get to Bed
A good night's sleep is essential for an optimal immune system. While each individual has their own sleep requirements, adults need at least 7 hours of sleep, and kids need a minimum of 9-14 hours of sleep depending on their age. To ensure a good nights sleep, create a consistent bedtime and follow a bedtime routine that is free of screen time. This will help support good sleep hormones for better sleep.
Say No to Sugar
Sugar enters our blood stream quickly when we eat it. This increase in blood sugar suppresses our immune system. Also sugar negatively impacts the good bacteria living in the intestines (AKA the microbiome). The microbiome has an important role in regulating the immune system. By avoiding processed sugar you avoid both the blood sugar related suppression of the immune system and also support the microbiome in it’s natural regulation of the immune system!
Stress also has a large negative effect on the immune system. When we are stressed our bodies produce a hormone called cortisol. This hormone suppresses the immune system which decreases our ability to fight off infections. Simple stress management exercises, such as breathing deeply or taking a dog for a walk, can help a lot in lowering cortisol levels and keeping the immune system healthy buy keeping stress at bay.
Practice Hand Hygiene
There is a reason public health officials are always talking about hand washing, it works! Washing your hands is a great way to prevent the spread of many infections including the common cold. Teach your children to cough or sneeze into a tissue or their elbow and to wash their hands after doing so. Have children wash their hands after they get home from school. There is no need to use anti-bacterial soap or hand sanitizer, regular soap and water works effectively.
Your immune system cells travel through the blood and their own network of pathways in your body called the lymphatic system. In order to keep the lymphatic system moving well its important to stay hydrated. Make sure everyone in your family drinks plenty of water. Fresh fruits and vegetables are also important sources of water so include as many as possible in the diet. Immune cells act as “surveillance” in the body, they look for infection. In order for them to do this job they need to be moving. Drinking lots of water helps them do just that!
In addition to lifestyle changes, there are other naturopathic tools, like herbs, nutritional supplements and acupuncture, that can be helpful in supporting the immune system. To find out how naturopathic medicine could help you, book your complimentary meet and greet appointment today.
Dr. Katie Thomson Aitken ND