It’s back-to-school time again! Any parent who has sent a child off to school for a year of learning, growing, and exploring knows that they’re also in for a year of sneezes, coughs, and other afflictions of a low immune system.
There is often a surge of the sniffles at the beginning of the school year. Whether it’s because the children suddenly need to get up early every morning and are deprived of sleep, or the sudden onset of cooler fall temperatures after the heat of summer, or they’re feeling confronted by the sudden stress of the classroom’s structure, the school year creates a need for healthy immune systems in both your children and yourself.
Here are some strategies that will help you and your children boost your immune system so that their return to school is free from sick days and trips to the nurse’s office.
1. Eat cruciferous and root veggies.
Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage contain isothiocynates, which help to build the immune system, and high volumes of vitamin C and other nutrients that also boost the immune function. Root vegetables like carrots and yams contain carotenoids, which are a yellow or orange pigment that are a significant source of vitamin A and antioxidants and likewise help boost the immune system.
2. An immune-boosting broth.
Cook up a broth of shiitake mushrooms, seaweed, cabbage, squash, carrots, fresh ginger, oregano, and onion in chicken stock. Shiitake mushrooms (if using the dried variety, soak them first), contain polysaccharides, sterols, and coumarin, as well as vitamins and minerals that increase your immune function. Seaweed cleanses the body, cabbage has cruciferous properties, ginger supports healthy digestion, and the remaining ingredients promote general health and well-being. If you eat this broth every other day, you will benefit from a strong and healthy immune system.
3. Tap the power of herbs.
Herbs are plants from nature that possess healing powers, and many can be used for prevention and relief from illnesses such as a back-to-school cold. The Chinese have traditionally used atractylodes, astragalus, and siler root-herbs in a formula called Immunity during the cold season to stay healthy. For temporary relief of symptoms after catching a cold, try honeysuckle, forsythia fruit, kudzu root, and burdock fruit, part of the traditional Chinese Cold & Flu formula.
4. Avoid sugar.
The processed and refined sugars found in beverages, candies, cookies, cakes, and other types of junk food take a toll on the body’s ability to process and digest, taxing the immune system. Gradually work more dried fruits and natural sources of sweetness into you and your children’s daily diet to promote a more active and functional immune system.
5. Play 30 minutes of active games with your children daily.
Exercise is found to promote general wellness and health, and it is essential for maintaining your immune system. Find a high-energy activity to do with your child for 30 minutes each day, whether it’s going for a soccer ball kick in the backyard after school or even just wrestling downstairs in the den. Not only will this promote the immune function of both you and your children, but it may evolve into an enjoyable family ritual as well.
6. Pack a Healthy Lunch.
Kick off this school year the healthy way by packing nutritious and delicious meals for your kids! Taking the time each morning to pack your child’s lunch will help them to maintain the energy and focus they need throughout the day. Our immune system needs a lot of vitamins and minerals to function properly, so many pre-made lunches fall short. Choose whole grains, lean meats, and veggies for fun sandwiches with yogurts, fruits, or nuts on the side.
May you live long, live strong, and live happy!
Dr. Mao Shing Ni, best known as Dr. Mao is a bestselling author, doctor of Oriental Medicine and board certified anti-aging expert. He has appeared regularly on “Dr. Oz,” “The Doctors,” and “EXTRA.” Dr. Mao practices acupuncture, nutrition and Chinese medicine with his associates at the Tao of Wellness in Santa Monica and Newport Beach. Dr. Mao and his brother, Dr. Daoshing Ni founded Tao of Wellness more than 25 years ago in addition to also founding Yo San University in Marina del Rey. To make an appointment for evaluation and treatment please call 310.917.2200 or you can email Dr. Mao at [email protected] To subscribe to his tip-filled newsletter visit www.taoofwellness.com.