Once our children are out in the world, whether at daycare or school, we know that illness is likely to soon follow. As exposure to germs from their peers increases, so too do instances of colds, the flu, and other viral or bacterial infections. In an effort to keep your kids healthy, you’ve probably instructed them on the importance of regular hand washing and may even send them to school with hand sanitizer. And, while hand washing is the best way to avoid potential illness, there are still other preventative measures that help your child well.
Sugar and the Immune System
Limiting your child’s sugar intake is not only good from a dietary perspective, it’s also a good move for the immune system. Sugar has been shown to actually hamper the white blood cells that attack bacteria for at least a few hours after intake, giving infection just the window of opportunity it needs to take hold.
Fight Illness with Water Intake
Most children do not drink adequate amounts of water, particularly in the winter when they are less likely to get hot and sweat while playing. However, water is critical to helping the body remain healthy and function at an optimal level. In the fall and winter months, when potential illnesses seem to lurk around every corner, you can help protect your child by upping their water intake.
Probiotics Keep the Gut Healthy
You may have heard before to give your child yogurt or other probiotic foods when they have a stomach bug or are taking antibiotics. However, this is a good practice regardless of illness. Not all bacteria is bad and having adequate amounts of the good bacteria that comes from probiotics in the digestive system can help keep gut health in balance.
Good Sleep Equals Good Health
The younger the child, the greater amount of sleep they require. However, if they are consistently short on these amounts, the immune system can take a hit. Research is still uncovering the connections, but we do know that not getting the proper amount of quality sleep increases inflammation throughout the body and hampers immunity.
Vaccinate for Optimal Health Protection
This one may seem obvious, but skipping vaccinations or allowing a child to fall behind on them puts their health at risk, as well as the health of those around them. Likewise, it is important that family members of all ages receive flu vaccinations early in the fall season. While you may have heard some misconceptions about the flu shot’s efficacy or ability to actually give patients the virus, the fact is that these vaccinations are safe, simple, and your best bet to protect your loved ones against the flu.
Don’t let fall or winter illness sideline your family. Focus on healthy habits such as diet and sleep, along with hand washing and vaccinations, and your immune system will certainly thank you for it.
If you are in the Zachary area and would like to see a pediatrician regarding your child’s health, contact Lane Pediatrics and request an appointment with the area’s newest pediatric physician, Dr. Jacob LeBas.
6110 Main Street, Suite B
Zachary, LA 70791