Starting School Strong . . . Immune System Tips
Fall is quickly approaching. That means cold and flu season. Good bye summer sun and long days spent at the pool. Summer fruits and vegetables won't be seen at the farmer's markets. Indoor schools, packed lunches and fall routines all give our immune systems a reality check. Here are a few tips for you to help your kids start school strong. Preparing our families for cold and flu season before it hits is a wise move. Following a simple protocol that can take us through the cold, winter months is easy and effective. Click on the links if you want to look over the brands we recommend.
Our top picks to kick cold/flu season:
1. Vitamin D - Plays a central role in immune system function. Without sun exposure we are missing this essential vitamin. New recommendations from Andrew Weil, MD suggest taking 600 IU's per day. Food sources include: fatty fish like salmon, trout, mackeral and sardines, shellfish, fortified milk, orange juice and cereal.
2. Omega 3's - Recent studies suggest that fish oil not only suppresses inflammation but also enhances the activity of immunity role playing B cells. Daily intake of Omega 3 fatty acids is now shown to assist in immune function. Food sources include: fatty fish like salmon, sardines, pasture raised beef, walnuts, and other nuts and seeds.
3. Zinc - A potent immunostimulant, zinc helps T-cell function. Our favorite chewable zinc supplement is by Animal Parade. Zinc is also found in a variety of foods including: spinach, asparagus, shiitake and crimini mushrooms, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, garbanzo beans (think hummus), lentils, cashews and quinoa.
4. Fiber - Keeps your digestive system functioning optimally. A University of Illinois study found in Brain, Behavior and Immunity from May of 2010 demonstrated that soluble fiber found in oats, apples and nuts strengthened the immune system. Fruits and vegetables have plenty of fiber.
5. Protein - Deficiency of high quality protein can deplete immune cells. Some of the 20 amino acids that make up protein are important for immune function. In order to calculate how much protein your child needs is easy. Just take your weight in pounds and divide it by 2. A child weighing 80 pounds needs 40 grams of protein per day. Food sources with protein include meat like poultry and grass fed beef, fish, eggs, dairy products (if over the age of two), nuts, seeds, and legumes like black beans and lentils.
6. Antioxidants and Phytonutrients - To combat free radicals and optimize immune function, choose fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables. Brightly colored choices have more phytonutrients, however cabbage and cauliflower are also great options.
Whether you are making breakfast, packing lunches and snacks or cooking dinner, make sure that what you are offering is nutrient dense and protein packed. Many parents forget the protein part of their children's school lunch. It not only helps them fight colds and flu, but it also can help their performance in school and athletics.