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Best Ways to Boost Your Child's Immune System for Back to School

smiling teen wearing backpackIt’s the start of another school year, which means your child is off to school, college, or university! While this is an exciting time, it can also be troublesome, especially with COVID biting at our heels.

Eat Your Fruits and Vegetables!

What you eat plays a significant role in how healthy your body is. Foods like carrots, green beans, oranges, and strawberries all contain carotenoids. According to William Sears, M.D, “carotenoids are immunity boosting phytonutrients that may increase the body’s production of infection-fighting white blood cells and interferon, an antibody that coats cell surfaces, blocking out viruses.”

Greens are also an important part of your daily diet. Leafy greens cause methylation, which is a biochemical process that happens throughout the body. One of the essential functions of this process is detoxification.

Sulphur-rich vegetables, like brussels sprouts and broccoli, as well as dark leafy greens, like kale and spinach, are loaded with B vitamins. These fuel methylation and can help power up your child’s ability to process and eliminate everything from pollution to chemical exposure.

When it comes to fruit, use it to substitute sugary treats. Sugar has been shown to alter the microbiome. It feeds the more pathogenic, sugar-loving bacteria, which can crowd out beneficial, immune-boosting bacteria.

Probiotics and Prebiotics

  • Probiotics: balance the healthy and unhealthy bacteria in the gut. Can be found in foods like yogurt and cheese.
  • Prebiotics: plant fibers that stimulate the growth of good bacteria. Can be found in green bananas, Jicama root, yams, and asparagus.


According to ScienceDaily, “A protein lures zinc into key cells that are first-responders against infection. The zinc then interacts with a process that is vital to the fight against infection and by doing so helps balance the immune response.” Zinc is typically found in protein-based foods like oysters, red meat, poultry, beans, and nuts. Here are the recommended doses for each specific age group:

  • 1-3 years old: 3mg
  • 4-8 years old: 5mg
  • >9-13 years old: 8 mg
  • 14-18 years old (boys): 11mg
  • 14-18 years old (girls): 9mg

Vitamin D

Most people are deficient in vitamin D, and while you may not think that’s a big deal, vitamin D is vital to boosting your immune system. By increasing the white blood cell count, vitamin D has even been known to help conditions like type one diabetes and irritable bowel syndrome.

Black Elderberry

Black elderberry has been used for centuries to combat colds, coughs, and upper respiratory infections. You’ll want to start taking this at the first since of the sniffles or scratchy throat.

Black elderberry is chock-full of antioxidants and vitamins that may boost your immune system. While this doesn’t replace a flu shot, the elderberry is excellent to incorporate in any healthy diet, including vitamin B, vitamin B6, and vitamin E!

Don’t Smoke! (Avoid Secondhand Smoke)

According to Beverly Kingsley, Ph.D., “Cigarette smoke contains more than 7,000 harmful chemicals, many of which can irritate or even kill cells.” Children are more susceptible than adults to the damage of cigarette smoke because they breathe at faster rates. A child’s natural detoxification system is also less developed. Overall, cigarettes aren’t good for anybody, so don’t smoke them, especially around children.


Exercise increases the number of white blood cells, and it may do many more things. While you exercise, you increase the blood flow to different parts of your body, which could help the white blood cells detect illnesses earlier than they might have while your body is at a standstill. The brief rise in body temperature while you’re exercising may also be a factor. It may prevent bacteria from growing. Studies have shown that people who don’t overdo it but take part in a moderately active lifestyle benefit most from an exercise program.

Get More Sleep

Sleep deprivation can reduce your natural killer cells (immune system weapons that attack microbes and cancer cells). This can leave you vulnerable to a slew of illnesses.  Here are the recommended hours of sleep for each age group:

  • 0-3 months old: 14-17hours
  • 4-11months old: 12-15 hours
  • 1-2 years old: 11-14 hours
  • 3-5 years old: 10-13 hours
  • 6-13 years old: 9-11 hours

Calm Stress & Anxiety

According to Naturopathic Physician, Julie Durnan, N.D. “children’s bodies can have the same response to stress that adults do—their cortisol and adrenaline rises.” This elevation in stress hormones, if sustained, can lower the immune system’s response. Stress and anxiety are okay in small amounts. It means your fight or flight response is working. However, everyone needs some downtime after a busy day. Creative outlets or even some time with friends and family are great ways to de-stress.

Wash Your Hands!

There is always the tried-and-true method of hand washing to keep your child safe from germs this school year. It’s important to wash your hands before and after every meal, as well as after you’ve touched an animal or anything with dirty surface. The fact of the matter is, there is no way to tell what type of germs you come into contact daily until you’ve fallen ill with something. Keeping fighting those germs and keep washing your hands!

We Can Help

Here at The Wellness Connection all our functional medicine practitioners’ goals are to make sure our patients are as well informed as possible when it comes to making decisions about your or your child’s health. If you would like to schedule an appointment with a member of our staff, contact us today!

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