Follow these easy back-to-school health tips to stay strong and healthy this Autumn and Winter
While the kids are mentally preparing themselves for a return to school, parents all over the country are gathering the back-to-school essentials. With common kid’s ailments including everything from allergies to stomach bugs, preparations should take into consideration health care.
Prevention is the key to good health and a strong immune system is where prevention should start. Dr. Lily, Senior Lecturer, Acupuncturist, Herbalist and Clinical Director at the AcuMedic Centre in London, makes it very clear: “According to Chinese Medicine the immune system needs to be in top form during this time of year in order to fight off the infections that we come into contact with daily.”
With the return to school and winter around the corner, the best thing to do first is to kick-start your defences with some natural treatments. Follow these 5 golden rules for a healthy start to the new school year:
1. GET TO BED EARLY
If bedtime goes out the window during the holidays then it is vital it is reinforced during the school term. Not only does lack of good quality sleep interrupt concentration, but it also disturbs regulation of key chemicals produced by the immune system to fight infections. In fact, sleep deprivation (less than 7 hours a night) has been shown to triple your chances of getting ill. This is why when you have an infection your body forces you to feel tired so that you can help fight the pathogens through sleep. Put kids to bed earlier so they are refreshed and stronger for the school day.
Use our free guide 7 Steps to Beat Fatigue to keep your energy levels up naturally (free PDF download).
2. GO OUTSIDE
Another way to boost the immune system before the school term begins is getting your child outside more. It might sound crazy but spending time outside in the cold stimulates your immune system. The worst thing that you can do when the cold weather sets in is to constantly stay next to a heater; this lowers your defences so that when you do go out, the cold makes you vulnerable. Wrap up in warm clothes and go for a walk in the cold air or play outside in the park.
For more advice on boosting your immune system naturally please see our guide Support Your Immune System (free PDF) – part of our AcuMedic Clinical Guides.
3. EAT RIGHT
It is important that you feed your body the correct nutrients for a good immune system. Dr. Lily explains: “The end of summer, when children return to school, is a very important transitional period. It is a time for stability and preparation for the autumn and winter months ahead. It is especially important, and in your child’s best interest, to keep the digestive system as healthy as possible. According to Chinese Medicine, if we don’t watch what we eat or remain careful with how our food is prepared, problems with the digestive system may arise and this could lead to problems with the immune system.”
Vegetables are the immune boosting heavyweights, full of vitamins, minerals and other natural chemicals to help support your immune system. Include as much as you can into your child’s diet. They should account for at least 50% of our diet.
Diet can also trigger an asthma attack. “Raw and cold food may injure the Spleen and tend to contribute to the stagnation of fluid circulation and the increase in the production of phlegm. Heavy, sweet, and greasy food tends to create phlegm and heat in the body. Fish, crabs, shellfish and other seafood have also been noted to increase the likelihood of asthma attacks.” describes Dr Lily. Take time to plan and prepare nourishing meals, preferably cooked over a low flame to sauté or sweat.
For more practical advice on looking after your digestion please see our guide Regulate Your Digestion (free PDF).
4. TAKE SUPPLEMENTS
Give your children a zinc and vitamin C supplement. These will feed you with the basic building blocks for a good immune system. Avoid drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen and antibiotics. These actually impair your immune system and make you more vulnerable to pathogens. They should only be used as a last resort to combat symptoms and not relied upon to fight infection. Try to use natural methods to help your child’s body to take care of itself.
5. DRINK UP
Information overload is one of the many factors that could lead to a wandering mind and fatigue. If you, your children or somebody you know are easily distracted and struggle to stay focused, counteract a wandering mind and improve productivity by adding some tea alongside a well-balanced breakfast.
Tea makes people more relaxed and at the same time more alert. Studies have shown that the L-theanine, an amino acid found in tea, lessens over-excitement in the neurotransmitters in our body’s central nervous system allowing us to pay more attention and stay focused for longer. Gabalong teas, in particular, contain generous amounts of essential GABA amino acid, which is one of the main neurotransmitters in your central nervous system. It prevents over-excitement of the nervous system by blocking excessive levels of nerve signal transmissions that cause anxiety-related health issues.
GABA keeps the brain calm, controls blood pressure, manages stress, aids in memory retention, improves overall mental alertness and aids the development of learning abilities. The Mei Leaf Tea House stock high-quality GABA teas, including the Great Taste award winner Ruby Gaba (from £2.40, meileaf.com).
If you are concerned about caffeine then Big Leaf Kuding (from £0.30, meileaf.com) helps to calm a fidgeting person and improve mental focus and memory. Alternatively, if your child is not keen on tea, stick to water. Water regulates all of the body’s systems and is essential for a strong immune system. Encourage your child to drink 2 litres per day.