Millions of Americans are getting back-to-school ready.
It seems like all the media attention has been on masks, vaccinations, and sanitizing schools.
What are we doing to fortify a child’s immune system?
Study after study has found that kids are eating garbage at school. Even if schools are serving healthy food, it often goes uneaten. Students simply take mandatory servings of fruits or vegetables in the cafeteria line, saunter past the cashier and dump them in the trash can.
In other words, U.S. schools have the healthiest trash cans in the world.
Yet amongst the new school supplies and excitement looms a pandemic that we just can’t seem to get rid of. Additionally, the bulk of grade-school children are heading back without the opportunity to get vaccinated. Therefore, a focus on what’s best for the immune system should be added to our back-to-school list of priorities.
Handwashing, limiting exposure to high-risk situations, and avoiding contact with individuals who are sick is key, but there are six more things you can do to help your entire family’s immune systems thrive.
1. Focus on dietary color.
Research indicates that colorful plants, especially green leafy vegetables, cruciferous vegetables, citrus fruits, deeply hued berries, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes may help to enhance the function of immune cells. They are also high in nutrients associated with better immune systems such as vitamins C and D and minerals zinc and selenium.
Easy ways to get more colorful plants in your little one include adding berries or carrots to packed lunches, focusing on fruit with proteins or healthy fats as snacks (such as an apple with peanut butter), and adding veggies to soups and stews. Consider including your child in purchasing and food preparation activities, which could help with interest in consuming healthy foods.
2. Give your kids a good gut.
The majority of your immune system resides in the gut. If gut health is strong, then the immune system will be more likely to follow. Colorful plants not only have immune-boosting properties, but they are also high in fiber. Adequate dietary fiber has been associated with better gut health and in turn, more balanced immune function. Additionally, encouraging foods that are high in prebiotics and probiotics can also help in developing a good microbiota.