It is that time of year again… School is about to start! Oh, the joys of back to school shopping, packing lunches, early bedtimes and germs! Well, we thought now is the perfect opportunity to discuss the importance of a healthy immune system and four tips to keep you and your family as healthy as possible this school year!
Your immune system is your body’s defense against infection and illness. It recognizes the cells that make up your body, and will try to get rid of anything unfamiliar. It destroys germs (bacteria and viruses) and parasites. Germs are passed around at school all day- but I want to assure you that you don’t have to fear germs! Thanks to our immune system, if it is working optimally, it will take care of the viruses and nasty stuff before it brings you down. Here are four tips that can allow for a properly functioning, germ fighting immune system!
1. Sun. Get plenty of sunshine! I truly believe there is not a “flu season”, there is “it is cold outside and I don’t get any sunshine and am super stressed from the holidays and ate a bunch of Christmas cookies” season. Sunshine gets a bad rap, but is actually super important to getting adequate levels of Vitamin D, which is crucial for bone health, enhances the immune system and helps to balance serotonin levels. Consider 10-20 minutes of direct sunlight on unprotected skin to get your daily dose of Vitamin D.
2. Sleep. Most current guidelines recommend school aged kids gets at least 10 hours of sleep per night. Imagine what your body does at night- so many crucial organ systems are activated!! Research has shown that the hormones needed to fight germs are released during our sleep cycles. That is why there is a direct link between sleep and the immune system. So, sleep deprivation could definitely lower your immune system and leave you more susceptible to the nasty stuff out there.
3. Sugar. School always comes with those sweet treats- sugar also can have a negative effect on our immune system! According to Health Services at Columbia University, your immune system can be inhibited for up to five hours after eating sugar! Our kids pack their lunch every day and make good choices on what they want to bring. If they pack their own lunch, they seem to be more excited about bringing fruits and veggies than when I pack it for them. Kid’s bodies CRAVE healthy nutrition and sometimes they are much better at listening to their bodies than us as adults. What a great learning opportunity to talk about healthy eating with your kids!
4. Stress. We all know stress is bad, right? But seriously, sometimes life can be a little nuts and stress comes with the territory. Reducing stress is crucial, yet challenging. Can we give a better solution? What if we said that instead of completely removing stress we can make YOUR body so brilliantly handle stress in a healthy manner? I know it sounds a little out there, but let me explain. You see, as chiropractors, we work specifically with the “switch” in the brainstem which controls and regulates exactly how your body responds to and processes stress. If people are having an overwhelming amount of stress, adults or kids, and the nervous system is not working as it is intended, this stress accumulates and will decrease the function of the immune system. This is why we hear often too much stress will make us get sick! Our goal is to make sure your body can process and handle the amount of stress you have without compromising your health. A chiropractic check up can always determine how the “switch” is functioning and whether or not your body is properly processing stress.
This school year, think about the 4 S’s- Sun, Sleep, Sugar and Stress. We hope you have the healthiest school year YET! Dr. Niki