By; Mahdi Khanafer
As the pandemic continues and cold and flu season arrives, it is time to consider how to help support your child’s immune system to stay healthy and strong. While there is no one magic answer, there are several ways to help strengthen their immune system to be ready to fight off any germs and viruses that may come their way.
- First, make sure their vaccinations are up to date, including the annual flu shot. Immunizations help the immune system to recognize viruses and be prepared to attack them before they spread and make your child sick.
- Remember to reinforce all the healthy protocols that we have been using throughout the pandemic – proper handwashing, cough and sneezing techniques, etc.
- Eat a balanced diet. Healthy food choices include:
-vegetables and fruit (eat the colours of the rainbow),
-whole-grain foods (whole-grain breads and cereals, whole grain pasta or rice, popcorn),
-protein foods (lean meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, beans, peas, lentils, nuts, seeds and low-fat dairy products).
-Limit processed foods (cookies, cakes, chocolate, candy, sugary drinks and cereals and fast food). Eat them less often, in smaller amounts and replace with healthier options.
- Ensure they get enough sleep. Health Canada recommends children aged 5-13 get 9-11 hours of sleep each night. It is important to establish consistent bedtimes and waketimes. Building a nightly routine with bath times and story times helps them to fall asleep easier.
- Keep active. Being physically active for children at least 60 minutes a day helps to support a healthy immune system.
- Limit exposure to stress. Talk to your children and practice mindful techniques like deep breathing and focussing on gratitude to deal with stressful situations.
Lead by example! These tips will help to support your immune system too!