Article By: Dominica Dieffenbach, RDN
Dominica is a Registered Dietitian and mom of 2 kiddos currently specializing in the special needs pediatric population. She has over 15 years of experience as an RD, working with a wide variety of patients to provide them with individualized medical nutrition therapy and education.
It's almost time for the holidays... But first, we have to make it through the whirlwind of November with coughs, sniffles, sneezes, and sore throats lurking at every turn. Cold and flu season is in full swing, and we're here today with 6 tips to help you win the battle against those pesky intruders!
1) Don't underestimate the power of handwashing.
Washing hands with soap and warm water remains the most dependable measure to prevent the spread of germs (bacteria and viruses) that can cause the flu, sore throats, and the never-ending succession of colds. Not only should kids wash after using the bathroom and before meals, but a good scrub after returning home from school or an outing will help to keep germ exposure down. Excessively using a multitude of disinfecting cleaners and hand sanitizers may lead to a less diversified gut microbiome, which can weaken our natural immune system.
2) Boost good bacteria with probiotics.
Instead of fighting bacteria with anti-bacterial products, try boosting the quantity of good bacteria in your child’s immune system with probiotics — no, this does not mean washing your hands with yogurt! Try including yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut into your kiddo's diet for a natural source of beneficial bacteria. Increasing foods such as raspberries, watermelon, asparagus, garlic, and onions will provide the gut with prebiotics, fiber, and nutrients to give the good bacteria something to feed on so they can flourish.
3) Incorporate Vitamin D for immune support.
Although there are many vitamins and minerals required to keep kids healthy, one of the most important micronutrients is Vitamin D, which is necessary for immune support. When levels are low, it can lead to a compromised immune system. Vitamin D is made by the sun’s rays, however, if we have a darker skin complexion, spend less time outside due to weather conditions, or live in areas that get less sun in the winter months, we might not be getting enough Vitamin D to keep our immune system healthy.
4) Prioritize high quality nutrition.
Prioritizing high quality nutrition in kids has been shown to boost immunity year-round, especially when more germs are lingering during cold and flu season. Eating a nutrient-dense diet is required for the health and function of all cells, including immune cells. The specific nutrients that are most helpful in strengthening our immune system include Vitamin A, Vitamin C, zinc, selenium, iron, and protein.
To cover all the bases, be sure kids are eating the rainbow of fruits and vegetables and incorporating lean meats and low-sugar dairy, nuts, and beans for these immune-boosting nutrients. For a variety of reasons, sometimes it can be challenging for kids to get all the nutrients from their diet, all the time. Enter the Renzo’s Immunity Builder Bundle, which includes the Picky Eater Multi, Invincible Vitamin C, and Dynamite D3!
5) Focus on proper sleep.
Getting good sleep is vital for preventing and recovering from an illness. Adequate levels of B6 support the hormones and neurotransmitters needed to reduce brain activity to allow for restful sleep. Tryptophan is an amino acid that’s an important precursor to serotonin, which is then converted into the sleep hormone melatonin. Without sufficient B6, which is necessary for this pathway, the body can’t convert tryptophan to serotonin or support melatonin production. Creating good sleep hygiene for kids can include limiting screen time before bed, keeping sleep and waking times consistent, and limiting naps for older children. Try supplementing with Renzo’s Bright & Brainy B6 to support their brain and nervous system health.
6) Encourage physical activity.
Physical activity can boost the immune system by increasing the circulation of blood and lymph (which contains white blood cells) and causes the release of additional immune cells from lymph nodes and the spleen into the bloodstream. Children naturally have a desire to be active, but with increased screen times, many children do not get the recommended 60 minutes a day of exercise. Physical activity for kids can be as simple as playing on the playground, dancing around the house, or kicking around a soccer ball in the backyard!
Renzo's Vitamins provides general recommendations, not to be construed as medical advice.