Keeping Kids Healthy: Advice from a Nurse

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School has been in session for a few weeks now, and it is about the time where children start bringing home a variety of sicknesses from being back in school. With the COVID-19 precautions of social distancing, mask-wearing, frequent use of disinfectant, and hand sanitizer, the likelihood of getting sick at school is likely much lower than in previous years.

This still doesn’t eliminate the risk entirely. Kids will be kids. They will touch their faces and mouths with dirty hands. They will spend time playing and getting dirty. As always, the winter months will likely see an uptick in the common cold, flu, RSV, and other viruses. No one likes getting sick, but it is a normal part of strengthening the immune system. Getting sick actually trains the immune system to be more effective.

The immune system is the most sensitive system to nutrition. Poor nutrition can lead to poor immune function while improvements (even small ones) can improve immune function. Here are some tips for bolstering your kids’ immune function this winter.

Keeping Kids Healthy: Advice From a NurseTips for Strengthening the Immune System

  • Spend lots of time outdoors getting sunshine, fresh air, and Vitamin D.
  • Play in the dirt. (This builds their microbiome.)
  • Exercise. Find sports and activities that keep them active. Stay active as a family doing hikes, trips to the park, or playing sports together.
  • Reduce processed foods. (This is very important!)
  • Increase fruit and vegetable intake. (I try to get my kids to have two servings of fruit and two veggies each day.)
  • Add in a good-quality probiotic. (I like this brand for sneaking into their food/drink without them even noticing.)
  • Consider a multivitamin/mineral supplement to fill in the gaps that their diet doesn’t cover.
  • Try smoothies which are a great way to pack in lots of nutrients.
  • Pick out healthy recipes to try together.
  • Take your kids shopping at a health food/grocery store and let them pick out a new fruit or vegetable to try.

As mentioned above, nutrition is particularly important. Teach kids why they should eat healthily rather than just restricting unhealthy foods without an explanation. Kids are picky, and they want to eat processed snacks and treats. I know, my kids are picky too. Be patient, and take baby steps in gradually leading them to a healthier diet. Get them involved in understanding the benefits of eating healthy. Help them realize how they feel much better when they nourish their body with good foods rather than when they eat sweets and junk food.

Of course, if your child has a specific health condition, you may need to take different precautions and you should follow the advice of your doctor. But these tips will greatly improve most children’s overall health and immune function.

Wishing you a safe, fun, and healthy winter season!

The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of ABQ Mom, its executive team, other contributors to the site, its sponsors or partners, or any organizations the aforementioned might be affiliated with.

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