The fall season can be a challenging shift from summer. Back-to-school preparations, the transition to a new school year, and the official start of cold and flu season are often overwhelming—and this year there’s even more to prepare for when it comes to your immunity. Keeping your family protected during this important seasonal shift—and throughout the school year—can be a challenge, but with the right support, you can stay healthy and enjoy fewer (if any) sick days. Here are some natural and simple ways to protect yourself and your immune system this back-to-school season.
Stress and The Immune System
Stress is one of the biggest factors that can wear down your defenses and increase your family’s risks of catching a cold and flu. To stay healthy and enjoy a smooth transition back to school, it’s important to minimize stress in order to balance the immune system to keep viruses from attacking your body.
To destress with the family, encourage playtime for kids, especially non-electronic playtime. At least 30 minutes of physical activity each day is also important for minimizing stress. Not only will exercise enhance overall fitness and boost brain power, but it will also optimize immunity.
It’s never too early to introduce healthy stress relief and relaxation techniques. Mindful meditation and gentle yoga are two mind-body relaxation practices that demonstrate significant mental and physical benefits for people of all ages.1
Sleep and Immunity
Deep, restful sleep is fundamental to immune health and balance. Lack of consistent, quality sleep can be detrimental—physically, mentally and emotionally, and can significantly increase the risks of infections and immune imbalances.2 Adults need 7-9 hours per night of quality sleep, and depending on age, kids and teens need between 10-12 hours per night. Make sure to sleep in a dark room, and avoid exposure to electronics at least 2 hours before bed in order to maximize production of the master sleep hormone, melatonin. With quality sleep habits and a supportive nighttime routine, you can help your immune system and body repair and prepare itself to fight off threats each day.
Nutrition and Immunity
While kids may love their sugar, avoiding excess sugar is an immune health essential. Sugar fuels inflammation and impairs your immune system, making you much more susceptible to infections. A switch to healthy foods with unprocessed ingredients on the other hand, works to boost energy, balance and optimize immunity, and support overall health.
Be sure to include a protein source with each meal to help maintain blood sugar balance, reduce cravings, and keep kids away from junk food snacks. Protein is also essential for optimal immune function.3
Hydration is key for immunity and total-body health. Make sure you and your family are drinking plenty of filtered water. If kids are attending in-person school, send them with a large water bottle so they have it on hand throughout the day. Proper hydration flushes out viruses and other germs from the body and enhances immune function, energy, digestion and much more.
Natural and Safe Immune Support Supplements
While official supplement recommendations for children are much more limited than for adults, there are still a handful of research-based natural ingredients and formulas that can be used safely and effectively by people of all ages to support immunity and overall health:
- Vitamin C
You’ve probably heard of people taking vitamin C when they feel cold symptoms come on. Natural vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is a critical nutrient that supports numerous biological functions, including healthy growth and development. Taking vitamin C helps to combat the psychological and physical effects of stress and is important for a strong and healthy immune system.
Probiotics, or beneficial bacteria, are important health-boosting supplements. Specifically, the two strains Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium lactis have demonstrated a wide range of benefits. While commonly used to help regulate digestion, daily supplementation with probiotics can fight colds and flus, as well as other viruses.4 I recommend a liquid organic probiotic drink with prebiotic nutrients and 19 digestive herbs, for optimal microbiome balance, gut health, immune support and more.
- Medicinal Mushrooms
Organic medicinal mushrooms offer support for the whole family during the fall and winter seasons. These functional mushrooms, especially Reishi, Cordyceps, Maitake and Shitake, plus additional beta-glucans, balance and optimize immunity, while helping the body adapt to stress during seasonal transitions.5
- Tibetan Herbal Formula
An extensively researched, Swiss-made Tibetan herbal formula is shown in 30+ clinical studies to support optimal immune health and balance, cardiovascular and circulatory health, joint comfort and more. One published clinical study showed this formula helped reduce recurring upper respiratory infections in children.6
- Modified Citrus Pectin
Over 70 published studies show that this super-nutrient supports long-term health, with powerful immune system balancing benefits. The researched form of modified citrus pectin (MCP) helps to optimize immune cell function, and prevents inflammatory immune over-reactions like the deadly cytokine storm. This MCP has also been clinically proven to remove toxic metals from the body, including one study showing that it safely removed lead from children with lead poisoning—another important factor in supporting optimal immune health.7
Healthy Immunity All Year Long
A wonderful way to support your family’s health this season is to ensure regular family time. Sitting down together for dinner each night offers numerous benefits and allows everyone in the family to slow down, relax and reconnect. Laughter stimulates the immune system, as does overall happiness and a positive outlook. By building quality time into your schedule, you can directly support your family’s health and simply enjoy life. Along with a healthy diet and supportive, natural ingredients, you can give your immune system the nourishment it needs keep you and your family healthy all year long.
- Black DS, Slavich GM. Mindfulness meditation and the immune system: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2016 Jun;1373(1):13-24.
- Asif N, Iqbal R, Nazir CF. Human immune system during sleep. Am J Clin Exp Immunol. 2017 Dec 20;6(6):92-96.
- Li P, Yin YL, Li D, Kim SW, Wu G. Amino acids and immune function. Br J Nutr. 2007 Aug;98(2):237-52.
- Zhang CX, Wang HY, Chen TX. Interactions between Intestinal Microflora/Probiotics and the Immune System. Biomed Res Int.2019;6764919.
- Wasser SP. Medicinal Mushrooms in Human Clinical Studies. Part I. Anticancer, Oncoimmunological, and Immunomodulatory Activities: A Review. Int J Med Mushrooms. 2017;19(4):279-317.
- Jankowski S, Jankowski A, Zielińska S, et al. Influence of Padma 28 on the spontaneous bactericidal activity of blood serum in children suffering from recurrent infections of the respiratory tract. Phytotherapy Research. 1991;5(3)120-123.
- Zhao ZY, Liang L, Fan X, et al The role of modified citrus pectin as an effective chelator of lead in children hospitalized with toxic lead levels. Altern Ther Health Med. 2008 Jul-Aug;14(4):34-8.