Back to school hacks: Five easy ways to stay healthy
Fall = Sniffles.
At least, that’s how it seems. By the second week of school every year, it seems like the sniffles begin. In this post, I’ll be sharing some back to school hacks you can use to help boost your kids’ immunity so they stay healthy after heading back to class!
1. Low Vitamin D can give you the flu
Vitamin D is an important part of the immune system. Some studies have shown that there is a link between vitamin D levels and the risk of getting the flu. People who have low vitamin D levels may have a higher chance of developing the flu, and we sure as heck don’t want that!
Vitamin D is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in the United States. In a 2011 study, the overall prevalence rate of vitamin D deficiency was 41.6%, with the highest rate seen in blacks (82.1%), followed by Hispanics (69.2%).
Superman was constantly sick before we realized his Vitamin D levels were dangerously low. Once he added a supplement in, his health drastically improved.
It’s best to get your Vitamin D from the sun. You should also note that sunscreens block your ability to produce Vitamin D. The best food sources of natural vitamin D are egg yolks, fatty fish like salmon and mackerel, organ meats, and some mushrooms. However, keep in mind that it’s tough to get enough vitamin D in the winter from food sources alone. If you’re indoors most of the day, you should most likely be taking a Vitamin D supplement. THIS is the brand our family uses.
For more info on common nutrient deficiencies, check out my blog post HERE.
2. Those gut bacteria are important!
Research published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport found that New Zealand athletes had about 40% fewer colds and gastrointestinal infections when they took a probiotic compared to when they took a placebo.
Other research has found that probiotic supplements may greatly lower the risk of an antibiotic-resistant superbug, Clostridium difficile, which is increasingly common in nursing homes and hospitals and named by the CDC as an “urgent threat” in their 2013 report on Antibiotic Resistant Infections. C. diff. can cause severe diarrhea and life-threatening inflammation of the colon.
Finding a good probiotic can be hard. After much experimentation, we’ve discovered that alternating probiotics so that your intestines can get a variety of bacteria is vital.
We have two favorite probiotics that serve different purposes. THIS is one we rely on when we feel a cold coming on, or just feel under the weather. It helps boost our immune system with 10 different probiotic strains and 50 billion live cultures per capsule. THIS one is more of our “everyday” probiotic and helps maintain a healthy gut bacteria.
For more info on the importance of probiotics in your diet, check out my article HERE.
3. Power in a bottle
Don’t be scared by the term “essential oils!”
Nowadays, it seems that just mentioning the term essential oils causing eyes to roll. I know, I know, you’re probably tired of hearing about them. But it wouldn’t be right of me to do a series on immunity and not include info on oils. Whether you’re open to using them or not, I hope you read on just so you can at least know some of the potential these little bottles pack!
Essential oils can be an awesome tool in your toolkit to help ward off the sickies, or even to help cut the duration of an illness. Here are some of my favorites:
Lemon – a powerful cleansing agent that purifies the air and surfaces, and smells amazing! It’s also a mood-booster! Seriously, try putting a drop of lemon in your palm and taking a few big whiffs. Superman swears it makes him cheery! I’d be happy to send you a sample if you’d like to try!
Peppermint – great for digestive issues and respiratory support, peppermint is another one of Superman’s favorites. If you’ve got tummy troubles, you can take a drop and rub it on your belly for relief. I know, sounds weird, but it works! As a side note, it’s also great for head tension!
The greatest medicine of all is to teach people how not to need it
OnGuard – This is my personal favorite! We use this regularly in the fall and winter. I put some of this in my diffuser and have it just going all day in our house. Superman puts one drop under his tongue for a quick immune boost, and so far, it has done an incredible job supporting heathy immune system! Plus, it smells awesome. =)
Oregano – This is one of the most powerful and potent oils on the market. It has been used for centuries in traditional health practices for its cleansing and immune-boosting properties. I put one drop into an empty capsule with a bit of olive or coconut oil and take one per day when I know I’ve been exposed to sick people. =)
Frankincense – Renowned as one of the most prized and precious essential oils, Frankincense has extraordinary health benefits, and promotes healthy respiratory function and clear breathing. It also repels bugs naturally and can be applied topically to relieve feelings of tension.
Feel better about oils? I hope so! Shoot me an email if you’d like to try a sample of one!
4. Sugar isn’t the devil, but it’s kinda like playing with fire.
Eating or drinking too much sugar curbs immune system cells that attack bacteria. This effect lasts for at least a few hours after downing a couple of sugary drinks. When your body is bombarded with a high sugar content, it loses its ability to fight off infection. This is a bit reason why so many people get sick around the holidays!
Eat more fruits and vegetables, which are rich in nutrients like vitamins C and E, plus beta-carotene and zinc. Go for a wide variety of brightly colored fruits and vegetables, including berries, citrus fruits, kiwi, apples, red grapes, kale, onions, spinach, sweet potatoes, and carrots.
Other foods particularly good for your immune system include fresh garlic, which may help fight viruses and bacteria, and old-fashioned chicken soup. If you do come down with a cold or the flu, a bowl of chicken broth can help you get well faster, one study shows.
The biggest key to surviving the holidays while consuming some sugar? Eat protein with it! Protein will help keep your blood sugar from spiking, which will in turn help keep your immune system from dropping.
5. It seems obvious, but sometimes we need a kick in the pants to remind us.
Sleep deprivation has a powerfully detrimental effect on your immune system. The perfect example is college students who get sick after pulling all-nighters cramming for exams. Anyone? Bueller?
If you’re tired when you wake up in the morning, you’re not getting enough sleep, or maybe not enough quality sleep. Either way, your immunity is probably compromised. Poor sleep is associated with lower immune system function and a reduced numbers of killer cells that fight germs. Killer cells are also the part of the immune system that combat cells that divide too rapidly, as they do in cancer. Lower their numbers and you may be at greater risk for illness.
Take this opportunity to go to bed a bit earlier.
Have trouble falling asleep? I use this magnesium supplement and love it! Using the tablets under your tongue absorbs better than a standard pill form. I’ve also used this magnesium oil which absorbs better than pill form as well.
Since I’m a tooth grinder, I also use lavender essential oil on my pillow occasionally. It’s amazing what a drop of that will do for my sleep. I’m not sure why it works, but the tension in my jaw is much less in the morning when I remember to put lavender on my pillow!
There is compelling scientific evidence that chronic stress causes a measurable decline in the immune system’s ability to fight disease. Severe and chronic stress have a direct impact on the immune system that can cause disease or change the course of a preexisting disease. For example, studies have indicated that higher levels of stress hormones lead to more rapid cancer progression.
Help balance stress by getting in some exercise each day, spending time meditating, enjoying the quiet. Try not to let the little things get to you. Approach life positively. Do something good for someone else.
Have a question about something I’ve covered (or not covered)? Just shoot me an email, and I’ll get back with you ASAP!
Keep that immune system boosted!