Winter. It’s cold, it’s dry, and unfortunately, we also know that daycares and schools are crawling with a variety of illnesses right now. Snuggly kids are sweet and all, but it’s no fun to see little ones not feeling their best. Here are 5 ways to keep your kids healthy this winter, which can help your kids avoid sickness, or at least reduce the severity.
1. Wash your hands well & often!
In the words of my wise mother, “Wash your hands. Wash your hands. Wash your hands.” The body is equipped with tools to defend against foreign invaders, but the best defense is to prevent them from getting into the body in the first place. Teaching (and reminding!) kids to wash their hands frequently and avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouths will prevent these bad bugs from even formulating an attack.
2. Take a High-Quality Living Probiotic for Immune Support!
Studies show approximately 80% of the body’s immune system resides in the gut.2 Many scientific studies show the interactions between gut bacteria and gut lining cells are critical in defending against pathogenic bacteria and maintaining gut homeostasis.1
One of the best things you can do to support your kids’ immune system is to keep their gut filled with diverse bacteria. Flourish (Original and Junior) contains eleven strains from five different families. One Tablespoon dose contains a minimum of 8 billion CFUs (Colony Forming Units) AND all the beneficial byproducts produced by the bacteria during growth phase, which are utilized by the gut lining as well. Kind of like a one-two punch to the gut, in a good way!
3. Get Sufficient Sleep!
While we are fast asleep, our bodies are hard at work. Cytokines are small proteins secreted by immune cells that influence other cells of the body. Cytokine production is at its peak during sleep, which is why it’s so important to most areas of health. Sleep deprivation decreases the production of these proteins, which then leaves the body at a reduced ability to fight infections and viruses.3
4. Stay Active!
Staying active through cold winters can be a challenge. Encouraging kids (and ourselves!) to be active for 30 – 60 minutes a day can strengthen the immune system by regularly challenging it.
- Play in the snow!
Not everyone can do this, but if you live in the cold climate, take advantage of the winter wonderland. Gear up – which is pretty much a workout in itself – and clear the driveway. Heart pumping movement like fort or snowman construction and sledding is a great way to use snow to your advantage. When you’re done, head inside and warm up with a cup of bone broth. Learn more about the benefits and how to make your own here.
- Check out gonoodle.com
This is a free and fun resource primarily for ages 1 – 12, but it’s something the whole family can enjoy. Put on your dancing shoes and get moving to instant hits like Purple Stew, Banana Banana Meatball, and Pop See Ko. There are even Zumba kids and yoga videos available for the older kids.
- Tween-friendly group fitness classes
It’s difficult to get tweens to be active in this digital age. If your local gym has classes for tweens and teens, this a great opportunity for them to learn proper movement and be social in real-time. There are a lot of workout videos online too.
5. Keep Kids Home When They Are Sick!
Our bodies are equipped with the tools to fight off infection, but we must let them do their job. A low-grade fever (98.7– 100.4) is not a bad thing. In fact, it’s a sign that the body’s immune system is robust and hard at work. Do be sure to keep a close eye on infants, toddlers, and those that are immune-compromised, as even a slightly elevated temperature may indicate a more serious situation.4 Keeping your kids home when they’re sick allows those little bodies to fight, while preventing further spread of infection. Twenty-four hours fever-free without medication is the goal.
*While we recommend 5 ways to keep your kids healthy this winter, we are not doctors; we are proactive health enthusiasts. Please seek the advice of your primary care provider if your child has a medical emergency.
- Lazar, V., Ditu, L.-M., Pircalabioru, G. G., Gheorghe, I., Curutiu, C., Holban, A. M., … Chifiriuc, M. C. (2018). Aspects of Gut Microbiota and Immune System Interactions in Infectious Diseases, Immunopathology, and Cancer. Frontiers in Immunology, 9. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2018.01830
- Vighi, G., Marcucci, F., Sensi, L., Di Cara, G., & Frati, F. (2008). Allergy and the gastrointestinal system. Clinical and experimental immunology, 153 Suppl 1(Suppl 1), 3–6. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2249.2008.03713.x
- Besedovsky, L., Lange, T., & Born, J. (2012). Sleep and immune function. Pflugers Archive: European journal of physiology, 463(1), 121–137. doi:10.1007/s00424-011-1044-0
- El-Radhi A. S. (2012). Fever management: Evidence vs current practice. World journal of clinical pediatrics, 1(4), 29–33. doi:10.5409/wjcp.v1.i4.29
5 ways to keep your kids healthy this winter
Written by Lorilyn Van Dyke, Entegro Health