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.
Back to school time is often filled with mixed emotions for families. Some children and teens may be excited to see their friends again and happy to go back, while others cringe at the thought of homework and early mornings. Many parents look forward to getting back to routines and schedules with the start of school, but they may dread the business that it brings. However, what kids and parents can both agree on is that no one likes fighting the common cold and flu, and the start of school will undoubtedly lead to the sharing of germs!
1) Set the stage with regular handwashing.
Yes, it’s common sense, but even the best parents forget to have children wash their hands occasionally. Regular handwashing remains the most reliable tool we have for preventing the spreading of germs (bacteria and viruses) that can lead to pinkeye, upset tummies, the flu, sore throats, and the constant stream of colds. Not only should kids wash after going to the bathroom and before meals, but a good scrub after returning home from school will help keep germ exposure down. Make sure kids are washing for 15-20 seconds with warm water and plenty of soap. Read them “A Germ’s Journey” by Thom Rooke, MD where they will learn exactly what happens after they sneeze.
2) Take a look at the new germ exposure research.
New research continues to show that the young immune system is strengthened by exposure to everyday germs so that it can learn to adapt and regulate itself. Kids who regularly play in the dirt, have a dog lick their face, and are free of excessive hygiene practices have a more diversified gut microbiome leading to a stronger immune system. Research shows this can be helpful in preventing food allergies, asthma, and autoimmune diseases from developing so they can grow up to be healthy adults.
3) Focus on high-quality nutrition.
Prioritizing high-quality nutrition in kids has been shown to support the immune system year-round, especially when more germs are lingering during back to school time. Eating a varied diet with enough nutrients (Vitamin A, Vitamin C, zinc, selenium, iron, and protein) is required for the health and function of all cells, including immune cells. To cover all the bases, be sure kids are eating the rainbow of produce and incorporating lean meats, nuts, and beans for immune boosting nutrients as well.
In addition, be sure to consider the Renzo’s Immunity Builder Bundle with a complete Multivitamin (Picky Eaters, unite!), Dynamite D3 (another D-efense against germy intruders ), and a delicious Vitamin C to keep kids’ immune systems stronger than ever.
4) Limit gut microbiome disturbances.
A diet high in processed foods and refined sugars and low in fruits and vegetables can promote disturbances in the gut microbiome and suppressed immunity. Instead of fighting bacteria with anti-bacterial products, try boosting the amount of good bacteria in your child’s immune system with foods that are naturally rich in probiotics. Kefir, yogurt, and pickles can be a good addition to those lunchboxes, or try the Renzo’s Yummy Tummy Probiotic to create a more balanced tummy.
5) Promote good, consistent rest.
Good sleep habits are essential for boosting the immune system as well as helping us recover faster when we do get sick. When we sleep, our bodies produce a protein called cytokines and T Cells, which target infection and inflammation, creating a positive immune response. Adequate levels of B6 support the hormones and neurotransmitters needed to reduce brain activity to allow for restful sleep. Creating good sleep hygiene for kids is vital and can include limiting screen time before bed, dimming the lights throughout the house, keeping sleep and wake times consistent, and limiting naps for older children.
Renzo's Vitamins provides general recommendations, not to be construed as medical advice.