Dr. Ayesha Qureshi, ND
September is here which means back to school!
This year, back to school may have a different ring to it. Whether you or your child are physically back to school or doing distant learning, we can all agree that focusing on immune health is important this fall. If you are a first time parent sending your little one to school or are just wanting some simple tips for establishing a healthy school routine at home, here are some back to school tips that may help:
- Eat well and establish a healthy routine: Choose a balanced meal for lunch that includes some protein, healthy fat and some complex carbs. Wholesome lunch ideas: Whole grain sandwiches made with lettuce, tomatoes and choice of organic meat (chicken, turkey, salmon, tuna, eggs etc), bean vegetable chilli, variety of soups, avocado turkey wrap, quinoa- chickpea salad or protein with steamed veggies/salad.
- Reduce sugar intake: High sugar consumption in children and adolescence can be associated with increased dental cavities, hyperactivity, weakened immunity and chronic colds, and increased risk of obesity and diabetes later on in life. “The American Heart Association has issued its recommendations on added sugar, urging parents to make sure children between two and 18 are eating fewer than six teaspoons per day.”
- Snack healthy: Eating a healthy snack can help maintain sugar levels and provide the perfect pick me up during the day that a student needs. Healthy snack ideas: mixed fruit and vegetables with nuts and seeds, hummus with carrots, cucumbers and celery, trail mix, greek yogurt and berries, avocado seasoned and chia seed pudding.
- Hydration: Whether you are distant learning at home or are going to school, remember to maintain good hydration. Many children during school hours consume very little water and consume more sugary juices and pop instead. Did you know that on average, your human body is about 60% water. Water is essential for cellular function, makes up many body fluids, regulates body temperature, provides moisture to mucosal membranes, flushes body waste, lubricates joints and is the most abundant component of articular cartilage. Lack of water can also contribute to constipation in many.
- Assess the need for supplementation with a Naturopathic Doctor:
Vitamin D: According to Stats Canada (2015), about 32% of Canadians had vitamin D inadequacy with 40% having vitamin D inadequacy in the winter months. Low vitamin D levels have been linked with poor bone mineralization and skeletal deformities, muscle pain, asthma, low immunity, risk of cardiovascular disease among more. Sources of vitamin D include egg yolk, fish (salmon, sardines, tuna etc), mushrooms and fortified dairy products. Limited sun exposure and having darker pigmented skin can put you at risk of vitamin D deficiency. Talk to your Naturopathic Doctor or healthcare provider to see if you are getting an adequate amount of vitamin D and if supplementation may be necessary.
Probiotics and immune support: The gut has a strong influence on your immune system. Keeping your gut healthy is an essential step in keeping your whole body healthy! Incorporating probiotics in the diet is one recommendation I often tell my patients to help improve their gut. Probiotics are live bacterial organisms that are beneficial to your overall health. There are many factors that can affect the gut such as poor dietary habits, stress and medications. Antibiotics for example not only kill the bad bacteria but they also destroy the good bacteria in the gut. Probiotics will help restore the microbiota balance. Probiotic foods include pickles, yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut and tempeh. Probiotic supplementation may also be helpful in many cases such as constipation. Talk to your healthcare provider or Naturopathic Doctor and see which strain and dosage is right for you and your child.
Botanical herbs: There are a number of botanical herbs that are immune stimulating and strengthening. These include Astragalus, Sambuscus, Codonopsis and Echinacea. Depending on the immune status, different herbs may be beneficial. Be sure to discuss with your health practitioner if these herbs are right for you or your child.
- Sleep quality: As a student, good quality of sleep is an important factor to learning and development. It is generally recommended that children and adolescents should get 8-10 hours of sleep daily. If you are struggling with sleep or have sleep issues, see a Naturopathic Doctor for simple and effective sleep solutions.
- Manage stress and anxiety: No matter what the age is, school can be stressful and anxiety provoking for many. This year with covid-19 many have heightened anxiety. Stress can lead to many health ailments and negatively impact the immune system. Good communication with your child can help create an open discussion. Mindfulness and breathing exercises can also help lower anxiety.
Wishing you all a healthy school year!