Here are 6 easy steps to a strong immune system
We are asked how to boost your immune system and your kids’ immune system NATURALLY. All. The. Time.
We all want to know how to strengthen the immune system and are the foods that boost your immune system.
BONUS: This has a spillover effect on every area of health, including your mood! And this can make a difference for everyone in your family.
✓ STEP 1: Foods that Boost your Immune System – Eat A Diet focusing on WHOLE, NATURAL FOODS
There are tons of entire books written on this topic!
In a nutshell, try to:
Make WHOLE foods the center of your family’s diet. Especially foods such as fruits, veggies, legumes, nuts, and seeds are micronutrient-packed and filled with fiber to help your body defend itself.
The bacteria in your gut are essential for your immune system. Ensure you eat enough fiber, and even eat fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut. Some kids love these sour foods, and some hate them. Don’t despair; just offer when you can. You might be surprised that your child may begin to love them! I would love to enjoy fermented foods but still can’t stand them after years of trying ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
✓ STEP 2: Watch The Sugar, Sugar.
Too much sugar can weaken the immune system. This is just one reason we recommend limiting added sugar intake to less than 10% of daily calories. (NOTE: this does not include sugar founds in fruit or dairy that is naturally occurring).
What that looks like, according to the American Heart Association:
→ For men: less than nine teaspoons (36 grams) a day.
→ For women, the number tops out at six teaspoons (25 grams).
→ For kids, even less!
This adds up fast!
For example, a 12-ounce (355 ml) can of soda has eight teaspoons (32 grams) of added sugar.
Aim to avoid processed foods that come in a bag, box, or can. Or food products with a long list of ingredients. Easier said than done, we know. But try.
✓ STEP 3: How to Strengthen the Immune System – Get (and stay) Fit!
Most of us should aim for 150 or more minutes of moderate exercise (like walking, jogging, bicycling, or swimming) every week.
Ideally, kids and adults should get 1 hour of ‘heart racing activity’ every day. This doesn’t need to be ‘exercise’ or organized sports. It can be from a 20 min dance party now, snowman making later, and a brisk walk with the dog after dinner. It all adds up.
This is important as it can help decrease inflammation and help promote the healthy recycling of immune cells. Inflammation is linked to disease and illness vulnerability, which we want to avoid.
✓ STEP 4: Drink Water
Need another reason to make sure you and your kids are getting enough water each day?! Dehydration can make you more susceptible to illness!
Exactly how much water you need is frequently being debated, but a simple rule of thumb is at least 1 liter a day for kids and 2 liters for adults. It’s a lot!
Remember, a lot of the food we eat has high water content as well. So you don’t need to chug water all day, but do be mindful to drink a bit throughout the day
✓ STEP 5: Get Enough Shut-Eye
Sleeping for 6 hours or less is linked to a higher likelihood of coming down with a cold. Adults should aim for 8 hours or more, and our kids, depending on their age, should be aiming for 10-12 hours a night.
(PLUS: you’ll have less stress and fewer food cravings if you get enough sleep too!)
✓ STEP 6: Find time to relax.
Stress can weaken the immune system and leave you vulnerable to illness and chronic disease. Make some time to take some YOU time. Read a good book, cuddle with your kids or partner, or take a relaxing bath.
If you are looking for some extra help in learning how to live your best parenting life, staying healthy, and thriving as a caregiver, we’re here to help you!
Dr. Dina Kulik