Boost your child’s back-to-school immunity

Heading back to school after a summer of fun in the sun, late nights and sleeping in is always a transitional challenge for parents, and while they may look forward to the back-to-school routine, they don’t look forward to all the germs that come with their children’s return to school in the new year.

“While the best way to prevent germs from spreading is by washing hands with warm, soapy water it is important to ensure a healthy and functioning immune system as the basis for avoiding nasty flu bugs,” says PharmaChoice spokesperson, pharmacist, Liezl van Tonder.

“The fact is that kids live in the fast lane, going from pre-school and school to after-care and extra-mural activities; and they’re exposed daily to the germs and viruses carried by schoolmates, friends and strangers. Germs are swopped faster than text messages which is why nature needs a helping hand if she is to be our ally.”

Schools are ‘danger zones’ for potentially infectious bacteria and viruses. “When our immune systems are robust and the viral exposure is relatively limited, we shrug off any attacks,” she says “But when the viral contact is repeated and quite heavy, or when our immune systems are compromised, we succumb, and get a cold, or flu and most parents will agree this is a nasty way to begin a new school year.”

The common cold is the most prevalent and widespread illness known to man, with more than 20 million school days lost due to this infection.

Although influenza (‘flu) is generally not dangerous, it can cause serious health complications in the very young. Typically, it affects ten to twenty percent of the population each year, which leads to many lost school days. There can be little doubt that this highly contagious viral illness should rather be prevented. It is also worth noting that acute respiratory infections such as pneumonia are the primary cause of child deaths.

Although it is not always possible for our children to completely avoid getting sick during the school year, it is possible to significantly reduce the number and severity of infections from which they suffer.

Here are a few recommended preventative tips to build a strong immune system and keep kids at optimum health and those bugs at bay!

Immune Boosting Supplementation is essential
It is important to boost your child’s immunity before they return to school, we like to think our children have a nutrient rich diet but the truth is the are probably not getting their optimal requirement just from their daily food intake. The easiest way to boost their immune system is by giving them a supplement containing natural immune boosters like ViralChoice Junior. It contains Echinacea extract, green tea, rosehip, vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D and E, folic acid, Biotin, Pantothenic acid and Selenium altogether making up the superpower ingredients of one of the leading brands of immune system boosters in South Africa. It contains some of the most highly-rated boosters provided by nature, and works by reducing susceptibility to cold and flu infection; and helps recovery, by reducing the duration and severity of colds and flu.

Keep hands clean
Washing hands with warm, soapy water for 20-seconds will eliminate germs on the hands if washed correctly, alternatively send your child to school with a waterless hand sanitizer and show them how to apply it and when they should use it. Another great way to stop the spread of germs is to teach kids to sneeze into a tissue and if one is not available to use the inside of their elbow rather than their hands. Obviously it’s important to instill a good hand-washing routine after sneezing or coughing, using the bathroom and before eating.

Early to bed, early to rise
Heading back to school after a lovely summer of fun in the sun, will mean that the body needs some time to adjust to early nights and early mornings. Remember that your kids are going to be faced with an initial lack of sleep in the first weeks as the early alarm goes off, this will make for a sleepy and weak immune system. If possible start to wean them back to an earlier wake up time four days before the big back-to-school day.

Eat right
Reduce your children’s intake of ‘foods’ that are high in sugar, like soft drinks. Also reduce dairy products, animal protein, trans fats and any foods that are significantly processed and contain artificial colours, flavours, sweeteners and preservatives. Try to increase their consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables and the amount of whole foods in their diet, certified organic whenever possible. Kids tend to be picky eaters and will often turn up their noses at ‘healthy’ foods. This means that parents have to be creative and experiment with different foods to find healthy options that their children enjoy. The best snacking foods are fresh fruits second to this is giving them dried fruits, nuts and seeds.

Keep them active
Kids spend most of their day sitting at a desk in school. It is extremely detrimental if they then spend the rest of the day doing sedentary activities like homework, watching television or playing video games. It is your responsibility to make sure that they get a minimum of one hour (preferably two) of moderate physical activity per day. Playing sports is great, but not all kids are interested in sports or enjoy competitive activities. So get outside with them kick a ball or have their friends over.

Thanks to Pharmachoice for these great tips – if you are keen to win a hamper of immune boosting vitamin supplements for your kids head over here to enter the Make Back to School a Breeze competition!

Kathryn Rossiter

Kathryn is a South African lifestyle blogger and mom of 2 who has been blogging daily for over 9 years! She writes about travel, health, beauty, fashion, decor and family... but not food (unless it's food she's eaten made by someone else) as she is a hopeless cook. She only wakes up early for 2 things... a red-eye flight to somewhere exotic and early morning game drives. She has just finished an extensive home renovation and would prefer to never see another box again. She's never met a chocolate or glass of bubbles that she didn't like!

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