Happy Back to School!

Parents often ask me how they can prevent their kids from bringing home all the colds and flus that go around in school.  There are many things you can do to ensure a robust immunity for your whole family and reduce the risk of infection.  Here are a few quick tips:

Hand Washing

Hand Washing:  This is the #1 most important thing.  In the late 1840s, doctors finally discovered they needed to wash their hands to prevent the spread of infectious disease in hospitals.  Can you imagine?  Previous to that time, it wasn’t considered necessary.  But now we certainly know better.  Thank goodness!  The best hand washing method is to use warm water with soap and rub your hands together all over (front and back and in between fingers and under nails) for at least 15 seconds.

Don’t Touch Your Face

Don’t touch your face, especially with unwashed hands.  Touching your face – especially around the mouth, nose, or eyes – can allow infectious germs to be transferred, via the mucous membranes in those areas, into your body and make you sick.

Get Fresh Air

Viruses and bacteria also travel in the air.  Being in enclosed rooms with lots of people increases the risk of spreading these infectious organisms.  Make sure to open windows and air out your house, classroom, and/or workplace from time to time.

Increase Sleep

Sleep can make or break your health.  Getting enough quality sleep is a potent immune booster. Each person’s sleep needs can be variable, but the average 8 hours per night still stands as a good target.

Reduce Stress

High stress levels lower your immune function. The end of leisurely summer fun and the return to the routine and pressures of school may create stress for parents and kids alike.  If this rings true for your family, simply be aware and remember to balance things by continuing to make space for both fun activities and relaxation time.  Exercise, laughter, and connecting with family and friends are all great ways to reduce stress and boost your immune system.

Avoid the Biggest Immune-Destroying Food

It’s a well-proven fact – SUGAR lowers immune function.  Almost immediately after eating sugar, the body’s infection-fighting white blood cell numbers drop.  And this immune suppressing effect can last for many hours afterwards.  Minimizing or eliminating sugar intake altogether is a powerful technique for staying healthy and strong.

Eat Immune Boosting Foods

Food is medicine.  It is simple and true. A healthy diet is the foundation of feeling good, looking good, and not getting sick. Here are some immune-boosting foods to incorporate into your family’s daily meals…

  • Antimicrobial Herbs & Spices:

i.e. Ginger, Thyme, Oregano, Turmeric, Garlic, Onions, Astragalus

  • High Antioxidant foods:

i.e. Fruits and Vegetables, especially brightly-colored ones

  • Specific Immune Booster Nutrients: like Zinc, Vit B12, Vit C, Vit A

High Zinc foods – i.e. Oysters, Lamb, Beef, Yogurt, Garbanzo beans, Pumpkin seeds, Cashews, Chocolate, Chicken, Mushrooms, Spinach

Vitamin B12 foods – i.e. Meat, Dairy, Eggs, Nutritional yeast

High Vitamin C foods – i.e. Oranges, Guava, Red peppers, Green peppers, Kale, Broccoli, Brussel sprouts, Strawberries, Grapefruit, Kiwi

High Beta-carotene/ Vitamin A foods – i.e. Carrots, Pumpkin, Sweet potato, Winter squash, Kale, Red peppers, Spinach, Broccoli, Cantaloupe, Apricots, Liver

  • Immune Boosting Mushrooms:

i.e. Shitake mushrooms

  • Probiotic-containing, Fermented foods:

i.e. Yogurt, Kefir, Miso, Sauerkraut, Kimchi, Kombucha

  • And if you desire something a little sweet:

Manuka Honey

Wishing You Glorious Health,

Dr. Sarah Murphy

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