In a world where we are all waiting for a magic ‘cure’ for the infamous corona virus, it is important not to overlook the simple steps we can take on a daily basis to build our own natural defense system – our immune system. This time of year is synonymous with sniffles, coughs and flus and with the added threat of also catching COVID19 it is within all our interests to build ourselves up from the inside out. We all know the HSE’s guidelines on preventing the spread of the virus – we are hearing about it on a daily basis – but we aren’t hearing enough about the other things we can be doing.
Firstly let’s look at obesity. It is now accepted that overweight people are in a higher risk category of catching the virus so it is more important than ever that your children are getting the required daily exercise and that their diet is following recommendations too. Did you know children should be getting 60 mins a day of moderate to vigorous exercise and that children aged four and under should be active for three hours a day? The should be eating up to 7 servings of fruit and veg a day, as well as limiting their intake of high fats, sugars and salts in both food and drinks, and water should be their drink of choice throughout the day.
Another simple strategy to help build your children’s defenses is to make sure they are getting enough sleep. Reduce screen time before bed and encourage, where possible, a dark room for deep sleep. A bed time routine can really help kids nod off and we talk about this in more detail here https://rinka.ie/rinka-news/bedtime-relaxation/
Vitamin D has long been recognised for it’s benefits in boosting immunity as well as our moods! Whilst our children can get vitamin D from the sunshine, the long Irish winters and dark, wet evenings don’t lend themselves to too much of that so a supplement is recommended. Of course, please make sure to see your GP before starting your child on any new supplement or herb regimen.
Stress and anxiety can wreak havoc with our immune systems, so helping your children to regulate their emotions and teaching them how to switch off is very important. It’s important for children to have lots of down time, time for creative play, and simply times of rest. All of these actions will help to prevent children from going into the fight-or-flight reaction and will help to lower their stress hormones, cortisol and adrenaline that can have a depleting effect on immunity.
So the key message is that kids need to exercise daily, eat well, sleep plenty, increase their intake of vitamin D and keep stress levels to a minimum and they will be well on their way to healthier, stronger versions of themselves.