It is very common for kids to get sick within the first few weeks back at school. Why is this so often the case? There are many reasons – First, because the school day starts early, they are usually not sleeping as much as they should. Second, many students are not getting enough nutrients and snacks during the day to help their immune system fight off any potential bug that they come into contact with. And third, because they are in a classroom during the most beneficial part of the day, they are not getting outdoors enough. So what are some ways to help our kids stay healthy during the school year?
First, you need to emphasize good sleep hygiene in the house, even during the summer months. Kids need a consistent bedtime, at least 8-9 hours of sleep each night, and the electronics should be turned off an hour before bed. Lack of sleep has been shown to increase many things such as depression, anxiety, poor school performance, and obesity.
Second, make sure kids are getting enough nutrients in their diet to last them the day. Buying locally sourced and organic will optimize the amount of nutrients one gets from their foods. Processed foods are nutrient deficient and usually full of sugar. A great place to start is to focus on protein choices first, as most kids offer less resistance compared to that of vegetables. Nuts and almonds are great snack ideas to send with your kid to school for in between classes. They still need to get some fruits and vegetables in their diet, so keep adding these in smaller amounts. Work on increasing the portion size and variety to help them get to an amount that will satisfy their body.
It is said that 70% of the immune system is in the gut – a functioning gut is vital to your kids’ health. I like to have kids take a probiotic each day to help boost their immune system. These supplements can easily be placed into organic applesauce or non-dairy yogurt. I also recommend that kids drink water mixed with an antioxidant powder to help their body better fight off infections.
Third, supplementing with Vitamin D3 daily will help fight off the viruses that hit our kids as soon as they get back to school. Lack of sunshine and living in the north causes us to be very deficient in Vitamin D. Proper Vitamin D levels will also reduce the risk of depression, anxiety, and poor school performance.
A great time to start all of this is now. Get in the good habits before school starts so kids can be healthy all year long.
-Dr. Brian Opp, Chiropractor