4 Secrets to Healthy Kids
Originally featured in Mom.me blog written by
I realize, of course, that a large part of childhood illness is unavoidable. But there are still things we can do to curb sickness. So this season, I decided to try a more proactive approach and sat down to figure out what else we could be doing to tip the scales of wellness in our favor. Here are a few tips I uncovered for improved immunity in our kids—no matter what time of year it is:
1. Develop a vitamin habit.
Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Zinc and Omega-3 are a few of the powerful vitamins and minerals that help reinforce our immune systems and enable us to fight off illnesses. It’s ideal if we—that’s both adults and kids—consume these naturally by eating more of the foods that contain them; fresh citrus fruits, walnuts and spinach are some of the biggies to add to our plates. But if your preschooler happens to possess the superhuman ability to detect a single disguised pea from six miles away with laser vision, even though he still somehow cannot find his shoes when he’s LITERALLY STANDING RIGHT NEXT TO THEM, aim instead for a nightly multivitamin to recoup some of those critical nutrients.
2. Boost immunity with probiotics.
Look, if Jamie Lee Curtis hasn’t sold you on the power of probiotics yet, I don’t really know what else to tell you. Over at The Accidental Purist, holistic momma and blogger Allyson Armistead has a great post explaining the importance of probiotics in regulating and supporting our microbiome. Unsure where to start? Here’s what Armistead recommends: “The safest rule of thumb with probiotics is to work with single strain supplements and two basic building blocks that orchestrate all other strains—Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.” There’s a dizzying number of brands on the market. However, says Armistead, “the only brand with scientific case studies and backing (and one that I use for my family and can vouch for) is made by Natren.” For babies and toddlers, she notes, “I would strongly encourage a very gentle probiotic powder also made by Natren called Life Start.”
I know, I know, for many parents, this is our single, only wish—for both us and our kids. But while there are plenty of times when I can do absolutely nothing to control the third night in a row involving a 4 a.m. wake up, there are also times when we (by which I mostly mean me, because my husband is a toddler bedtime champion) could move the goodnight train along a little faster. In an article for Parents Magazine, Dr. Kathi Kemper, director of the Center for Holistic Pediatric Education and Research at Children’s Hospital, points to sleep deprivation as a major contributor to illness because of the way it reduces the ability of our immune systems to fight harmful microbes. The more well-rested we are, the better our bodies can work to protect us.
4. Don’t be germ adverse.
You heard me. Many of us have already heeded the warnings to lay off the antibacterial soaps and sanitizers, but Dr. Rajeev Kurapati, a family physician at St. Elizabeth Hospital, adds, “The recent mantra for improving immunity in kids is to increase their exposure to pets and gardening, as well as to use less hand sanitizer, so they build natural immunity by themselves and help build microbiome.” The good news: if you’re employing the five-second rule for dropped food at your house, you’re probably already aces on this one.
Most of this advice feels like common sense, but it’s easy to let these details slip through the cracks in the everyday chaos that’s characteristic of most of our lives. I totally get it. But with a renewed commitment to taking our nightly probiotics, trying for at least eight hours of sleep, and possibly flossing (hey, for good measure), I’m cheering on you and your little ones to a healthier season.
Photograph by: Kirsten Clodfelter