Shift in Health
Heading back to school
Reinforcing kids health and wellbeing
By Dr. Wendy Henrichs
Board Certified Chiropractic Pediatrician and Nutrition Counselor
August is a perfect time to re-ignite habits that will boost you and your family’s immune system before heading back to school. You should practice these immune boosting habits all year-round for the best results, but starting these back-to-school healthy habits now will strengthen your immune system in preparation for the school year.
Sleep for Better Immunity: Your body regenerates and heals when you sleep. Lack of sleep increases your stress hormone Cortisol which will in turn further lower your immune system function. Getting adequate rest will help protect you against bacterial and viral infections, as inadequate sleep will decrease your immune function over time. Adults need six to nine hours of quality sleep. Children and teens require nine to 12 hours of quality sleep. To ensure a better slumber keep it cool in your bedroom and turn off your electronics 30 minutes or more before hitting the pillow. I recommend that kids return to their school sleep schedule at least one week before heading back to school.
Eat Mostly Plants: Enjoying vegetables and fruits is much easier in the late summer with farmers’ markets and gardens. Vegetables and fruits provide antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that will reduce your risk of getting sick and if you do, will aid in faster recovery. Try to eat at least six assorted colors (red, orange, yellow, green, blue-purple, and tan/white) of plant foods daily to get a wide variety of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. You can add fruits and vegetables to smoothies, salads, soups, and whatever dish you are enjoying. Choose organic as much as possible to avoid pesticides, herbicides and other toxins that can damage your cells and deplete your immune system. Visit www.ewg.org to view “Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen” for fruits and veggies. Have your children eat a piece of fruit or a vegetable before any other kind of snack to reinforce this.
Mighty Movement: Regular movement and exercise is an immunity booster and is also great for memory and concentration. With tablets, cell phones and other devices, kids and adults just do not move and exercise as much as needed. Get your kids involved in sports, encourage them to play outdoors, and limit their screen time to an hour a day not just in preparation for school, but all year round.
Adequate Hydration: Drinking water is an effortless way to boost your immune, brain, and body function. Water is necessary for every cell in your body to work properly, and when you are dehydrated your immune system will become depleted. You should ensure your mouth and throat are moist, and never dry. Drink at least half of your body weight in ounces every day and add an additional eight ounces for every 30 minutes of activity or exercise. Start drinking water upon waking by consuming one or two eight-ounce glasses first thing in the morning. Have your kids get into this habit by keeping water by their bedside.
Supplements: There are beneficial supplements that will strengthen your immune system and protect you and your family from back-to-school colds, flu, and other infections. These include Vitamin D3 with K2, Zinc, and Vitamin C. Take them as directed by your chiropractor or natural health professional.
Back to school does not have to mean back to sickness for you or your family. Start these simple stay well strategies today to improve your immune system function and keep your family healthy during the fall, winter, and all year long. Remember, it is never too late to make a Shift in Health.
Dr. Wendy Henrichs is a board certified chiropractor and nutrition counselor at Timber Land Chiropractic in Rhinelander. For a complimentary chiropractic, nutrition or lifestyle counseling consultation, visit Timberland Chiropractic.com, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, or call 715-362-4852.