Back to school season means the return to routines, new experiences, lots more to learn, and unfortunately… greater exposure to germs. But before we worry about the (seemingly) inevitable sniffles and sneezes, remember that you can help supercharge your child's immune system simply through the foods they eat.
Since a strong immune system is your child’s first line of defense, the right immune-boosting foods can be an absolute arsenal of nutrients that support those defenses. And luckily, nature has provided us with an array of immune-boosting foods that are as delicious as they are nutritious.
Here are some tips to help your kids stay well this back-to-school season (and beyond)!
1. Serve their favorite fruits and veggies
This is a simple one: if your kids have a preference for certain fruits and veggies, take the easy win and incorporate them more often into your child’s diet so you can keep their nutritious intake up.
2. Use dinner leftovers to save time
If you’re making healthy dinners in the evening, why not send the leftovers to school with the kiddos for lunch the next day? Win-win.
3. Get your little sous chefs involved
Kids are more likely to try foods they’ve had a hand in creating. When you make family meals, give your children a role in the preparation and creation of the food; they’ll learn valuable life skills and be more likely to try new healthy foods, too.
This doesn’t just mean dinner, you can include your kids in preparing their lunches for school, too. Let them pick their favorite snacks, sandwiches, fruits and veggies to help them eat well and support their immune system–even when they aren’t at home.
4. Eat the rainbow!
Just like your microbiome, your child’s microbiome thrives (literally and figuratively) on diversity. Make sure to get a lot of nutritional variety to help keep their gut happy and their immune system in check. Here are some of the best foods for healthy immune function.
Mushrooms may be a secret weapon for your immune system. Studies show that mushrooms increase the production and activity of white blood cells, making them more aggressive in fighting off illness.
Go raw or lightly steamed to get all the benefits of this super-duper superfood. Packed with vitamins A, C, and E (oh, and fiber and antioxidants, too!) broccoli is one of the best things you can serve in service of a healthy immune system.
A wonderful source of Vitamin C and beta-carotene, both of which help our immune systems fight off infection, spinach is a great thing to make a regular guest on your child’s plate.
Sweet potatoes are a fantastic source of Vitamin A, which is essential for healthy skin–the body’s biggest barrier against bacteria, viruses, and other environmental toxins.
Most citrus fruits are rich in Vitamin C, which is thought to increase the production of white blood cells (key to fighting infection!). With such a variety to choose from, it’s easy to find ways to incorporate these fruits into your child’s diet.
Red bell peppers
Another great source of Vitamin C? Red bell peppers! They contain 3x the amount of a Florida tangerine and they come with an impressive beta-carotene count, too.
Garlic can help fight infections thanks to immune-boosting properties due to a heavy concentration of sulfur-compounds including allicin.
As a natural anti-inflammatory, incorporating ginger can help reduce sore throats and inflammatory illnesses.
When it comes to immune boosting snacks, yogurts labeled "live and active cultures," such as Greek yogurt, are great to have on-hand (as these cultures can support the immune system).
In addition to healthy fats, almonds are high in Vitamin E, a fat-soluble vitamin that’s a powerful antioxidant to help immune health.
Sunflower seeds are easily snackable and nutrient-rich thanks to phosphorus, magnesium, selenium, vitamins B6 and E.
Key to many curries, this bright spice has also been used for years as an anti-inflammatory and curcumin, which gives turmeric its distinct yellow color, has shown promise as an immune booster.
In addition to 100% of the recommended daily amount of Vitamin C, papaya also contains papain, a digestive enzyme which has anti-inflammatory effects. (Also, papayas are good sources of potassium, magnesium, and folate – all of which are beneficial to overall health!)
Like papaya, this cute fuzzy fruit is also a rich source of important nutrients, including folate, potassium, vitamin K, and vitamin C.
5. Ideas for healthy school snacks:
- Sliced raw red bell peppers
- Orange slices or a clementine
- Broccoli and carrots with hummus dip
- Plain yogurt sweetened with raw local honey
- Homemade trail mix (raw nuts and seeds with dried fruit and semi-sweet chocolate chips)
- Fruit salad with kiwis and blueberries
- Celery sticks with almond butter
- Kale chips
- Applesauce with cinnamon
7. Desserts? Yes, please.
Who doesn’t love a little dessert from time-to-time? You can make healthy desserts like homemade trail mix or even chocolate avocado pudding! Surprisingly delicious.
But remember a diet low in refined sugars is good for the immune system, so while healthy desserts are an okay treat, keep an eye on the sugar count and watch out for any added sugars!
8. Help them stay hydrated
Getting enough to drink is important for growing bodies (well, all bodies really) and growing immune systems. To help your kids stay hydrated, here are some ideas to add in addition to adequate water intake: kombucha, kefir, and even organic nut milks are good options.
9. Remember other immune-boosting habits
In addition to a good diet, help instill other important habits to boost and support a healthy immune system.
- Get proper sleep (remember kids need more than adults!)
- Spend time in nature
- Stay active
10. Incorporate ION* Gut Support to support healthy immune function!
In addition to immune-boosting foods and health habits, ION* Gut Support can help your child thrive. ION* can help support your child’s most important defenses by supporting a healthy gut and flourishing gut microbiome.
Why the gut? Well, it comes down to this: the majority of immune function is concentrated and connected to gut function. So, the healthier and happier the gut, the better the immune system can function and the better your child's body can protect itself!
That’s why all-natural, soil-derived, and scientifically proven ION* Gut Support was created to help support the body’s unique gut microbiome and bolster immune health at the foundational level by strengthening the cellular junctions in the gut.
Gentle enough for the whole family, this easy-to-take liquid solution is a breeze to incorporate into even the busiest schedules. ION* is the perfect addition to your family’s daily wellness ritual.
Back-to-school tip: Pack a non-toxic water bottle filled with dechlorinated water and ION* to help support your child’s natural defenses throughout the day.
Help your children put their best, healthiest foot forward this year!
Try ION* Gut Support today.