All the excitement of back-to-school can also cause some stress. Changes in schedule, being exposed to more people and more germs, and the change in season can tax the immune system.
In Chinese Medicine, the end of summer marks an important seasonal change. Just before kids head back to school, the ‘Late Summer' season begins, the season associated with harvest, the earth element, and the digestive system.
This is a great time to focus on boosting your child's immunity, especially by focusing on diet. If you're not already an expert with real, traditional foods, be sure to read this post to brush up on real food basics.
With the right diet, only minimal supplements should be necessary as an immune boost for kids. Here's what I do for mine…
Back-to-school immune boosting supplements
Yes, you could just use a multi-vitamin and hope for the best, but it's usually not enough to keep kids from getting sick all winter long. A small amount of effort can go a long way to making back-to-school time a healthy experience for your family. Here the protocol I follow to keep my family healthy.
We take these throughout the year:
- Probiotics improve digestive function, the center of good immunity. Choose a high quality probiotic powder from the fridge section of your health food store and mix into a cool food like yogurt, applesauce or a smoothie.
- Omega-3's establish healthy cell membranes that prevent inflammation and resist toxins and attack by pathogens. I prefer cod liver oil for my family, which naturally provides vitamin D and vitamin A in healthy, safe proportions.
When my kids are under the weather or when everyone around us seems to be sick:
- Vitamin C reduces inflammation and prevents infection – 500mg for infants 1000mg/day for children, 2-4 g for adults. This is my favorite vitamin C supplement. These days, I also prefer to get additional vitamin C from elderberry syrup, which you can buy here or learn to make your own with this recipe.
- Vitamin D is essential to maintain immune function and as the days get shorter there's less opportunity to get vitamin D from sunlight. Read more about how to get adequate vitamin D here.
- Chinese herbs – Ask your TCM practitioner to provide you with one or two immune herbal formulas you can use to support a strong immune system for your child. These formulas may be pre-made or customized for your child's needs. I recommend having a general immune booster to take for prevention plus one to chase away early signs of cold/flu as needed. I use this formula for warding off early colds. This is my favorite kids' formula for cough.
Don't forget the basics…
Besides healthy diet and some herbs and supplements, what else can you do to help with an immune boost for kids at back-to-school time? May seem obvious, but make sure your child…
- Sleeps – To build immunity naturally, set a healthy bedtime and incorporate an evening routine to make night time smooth and easy.
- Drinks water when thirsty.
- Exercises regularly to stimulate cleansing and the release of natural stress reducing hormones.
- Spends time outdoors, taking in plenty of fresh air and Vitamin D from sunshine.