Ontario recently revealed plans for our kids to head back to school in the fall. Many parents are still uncertain and on the fence on whether or not they want them to return to the classroom. Some would also feel homeschooling would be more comfortable with them for the time being. However, one thing is for sure, though, we need to start preparing for a sense of normalcy in the fall. It has been many months of unpredictability and chaos for most families. You are probably looking forward to things returning to normal or a “new normal” (as many are saying). There are many things we can do to help get ready for the start of the school year in September, and today we’re going to share those ideas with you and the importance of them.
One of the best ways we can prepare for the return of school is by creating a routine for the family to follow. Getting into a routine will not only be beneficial for parents but your little ones as well, as children thrive best with a routine for a couple of different reasons. Firstly, it helps them feel safe, which is essential for a happy and healthy child. Creating a routine establishes boundaries by allowing them to understand what they can and cannot do daily. By implementing a routine and having them acknowledge it will enable them to relax. You will know what to expect at any given time of day, making them feel secure by taking away uncertainties of not having a routine. It’s best to keep this habit up during the summer and times they are off of school. A good routine will continually ensure their need to be safe.
Additionally, creating a regular routine helps with the development of healthy habits. We all know how hard it is later in life to develop healthy habits. Therefore, establishing these habits early in life. This can be very important as children grow. It also creates a sense of independence. These habits will more likely be ingrained in their brains. Therefore they will be more likely to continue to do them when they aren’t being instructed to do so by you. Things like exercising, winding down, engaging in a bedtime routine, proper hygiene and contributing to household chores are all simple. Necessary habits that will help establish a good routine before school begins. Hence, there is less kickback once the school year starts in September.
Speaking of healthy habits, one of the best parts of a routine to establish is a good solid night’s sleep. Many kids in the summer will often stray from their bedtime and wake time, staying up late and then sleeping in come morning time. By continuing to do this up until the end of summer, you’ll likely have a much harder time getting the kids to head to bed early and wake up early as the start of the school year closes in. In most cases, you’ll end up struggling to get your children to head to bed at an appropriate time. You’ll have an even worse time trying to get them to wake up in the morning and have to deal with a grumpy and overtired child (which is no fun for anyone). For most school-aged children, it is recommended they get between 9-11 hours of sleep during the night to support optimal mental and physical health that is still in development. Depending on what time school starts, how they get to school and how long it takes for them (or you) to get them ready, work backwards and establish a bedtime and wake up time that fits your routine. As important as sleep is in a routine, we’ve previously mentioned in another blog, the importance of sleep in terms of immune health, and that’s no different for your kiddos. Sleeping helps reduce inflammation, fight infection and improve immune memory, which are all essential for a healthy immune system. After a long day of learning and activity, sleep also helps the brain and body recover. It acts like a reset for the body, so they are ready and prepared to take on the next day. Realistically, sleep can only be a benefit in terms of routine and immune health!
Another vital part of developing a good routine and also contributing to a healthy immune system is establishing proper nutrition and eating habits. There’s nothing more challenging than learning how to eat healthily, especially after years of unhealthy eating. Fast food, fried food, and generally nutrient-void foods tend to be addictive. Like any addictive substance, unlearning these habits can be a very challenging obstacle to overcome. Eating these foods also do not support immune function and actually impairs it. This is why it is important to eat nutrient-dense foods of a variety of colours and origins. It lends to a multitude of macro (fat, protein, carbohydrates and fibre) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). These nutrients are crucial for a healthy functioning immune system. Starting to encourage healthy eating early will only lead to better choices as young adults and their entire adult life. I always love to see when parents include their kids when cooking a meal or preparing snacks, and this can be done from a very early age. Try encouraging your children to participate in the food preparation process. When done safely (and under constant supervision), getting your kid interested in cooking can help them appreciate better what they are eating. For extremely picky-eaters, stay tuned for the next two blogs where we share recipes that include hidden vegetables to help boost the nutrient density of some common foods.
Finally, when it comes to the immune system and your kids, sometimes supplementing is necessary because you just know they aren’t getting enough support from their diet, especially if they aren’t used to eating healthy and nutrient-dense foods regularly. Below we discuss some of the most essential supplements your little one can take to help support their immune system. As they return to school in the fall when cold and flu season begins—the pandemic will potentially rise as an issue at this time again too.
A multivitamin is essential, especially if your child has a hard time eating a variety of nutrient-dense foods and will help supplement the diet to ensure they are getting the proper nutrients needed for metabolic functions in the body, especially in regards to supporting the immune system, as specific nutrients are required for it to function optimally (we’ll go more in-depth on those below). We’ve recently launched a new line of children’s vitamins at Nature’s Emporium that go by the name of Kidstar Nutrients that are super clean, tasty and not to mention free of all of the gunk and junk found in a lot of kids vitamins like sugar, artificial flavours, sweeteners & colours, as well as soy, gluten, and GMO’s. They are highly absorbable because they use the most bioavailable form of nutrients and use organic fermented whole foods, including apple, blueberry, carrot, cranberry, broccoli, spinach, kale and parsley. They have also launched a clean protein powder for kids, as well as iron products, which are essential for proper immune function because anemia can undoubtedly hinder your immune system. If you’re familiar with Lorna Vanderhaeghe products, then you won’t be disappointed with this new line, as her daughter Caitlyn is the one who created them!
Besides a multi, this is something that I tend to recommend for almost everyone at every life stage for a variety of reasons. Specific to immune function; however, probiotics are essential for repopulating your gut with good bacteria concerning the bad bacteria that is often lingering around in excess. Everyone has both good and bad bacteria in their bodies, it’s how we develop an immune system and can keep ourselves healthy. The issue lies when there is an imbalance of the good and bad bacteria in our bodies, much of which resides in our gut. When this imbalance occurs, the bad bacteria strains often outnumber the good strains. Since at least 70% of your immune system resides within your intestinal tract, it’s best to make those good bacteria happy and thriving so that your immune system can reap the benefits by helping to regulate your immune response. Probiotic strains compete with pathogens in the body, and also modulate pathogenic induced inflammation. As we’ve previously discussed in prior blogs, we know that inflammation causes the immune system to react. A constant reaction from the immune system weakens it over time and therefore lessens its ability to act effectively when you actually need it the most (i.e. when you’re trying to fight off a cold or the flu). One of our favourites to recommend for kiddos heading back to school is Genestra’s HMF Fit for School, which contains 4 different strains of probiotics, as well as Vitamin C & D, (which we’ll go into more detail below as to why they are supportive of the immune system), making it a great all-in-one immune supportive supplement for heading back to school!
Summer is coming to an end, and the school year is approaching. Something that also ends is the amount of sunshine we are exposed to daily. Sunlight is a way we can produce Vitamin D. Shorter days (and less time being spent outdoors)means our Vitamin D levels drop significantly. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with autoimmune diseases, as well as increased susceptibility to infection. It’s no surprise why this time of the year, we are regularly fighting off colds and flus. It is believed that vitamin D helps prep and prime T-cells that help fight infection, so it’s crucial we have adequate amounts in our body for when cold and flu season begins. One of my personal favourites that I have seen and felt the benefit from taking is CanPrev Vitamin D, and thankfully they have a kids formula as well. The drops are easy to take with the dropper provided and also tasteless, which will help with the compliance and not putting up a stink when you ask them to take it. It’s also in a base of MCT oil, which is an ideal carrier oil and contains no other ingredients.
This is a fan favourite for most people in supporting the immune system and has been for years. Remember when we were younger, and our mothers pumped us full of chewable Vitamin C tablets? We would head back to school, and it would help ward off the common cold most kids seem to catch when returning to class after summer. Studies have shown that Vitamin C deficiency is linked to impaired immunity and a higher susceptibility to infections. It is believed to help in microbial killing and protecting against damage to cells. As for any nutrient, it is always best to obtain it from a food source first. Although, supplementing with Vitamin C can be crucial (especially as the cold & flu season sneaks up on us). This is when we’re more likely to be fighting off an infection. When we can, we like to support Canadian brands, and Sisu is one of them. Especially when it comes to their Vitamin C, as it is a patented unique buffered form. What this means is it’s more absorbable than other types and is also more tolerable in individuals who are sensitive to acidity. The giveaway is not available yet, it will start in September. You may enter in-store to win a Bento Box valued at $55! to potentially help ease the pain of getting back in the habit of preparing school lunches. Stay tuned for an upcoming blog on Bento Box lunch ideas to further assist you plan your kiddies lunches.
Let’s face it, fish oil has come a long way in regards to taste, especially when it comes to options for kids. We are no longer choking it down and burping up the aftertaste of fish throughout the day – thank goodness for that! However, it’s clear we still don’t get enough omega-3 consistently. Many families do not regularly consume fish in their houses, often due to picky eaters. There is evidence to believe that those who are deficient in essential fatty acids (omega-3), are also less able to produce interferons. These proteins are a part of the immune system which are produced in the presence of viruses. When fewer interferons are being produced, due to lack of essential fatty acids, there will be a weakened immune system response. A non-related immune benefit of fish oil is its role in supporting the development of the brain. It can possibly aid in focus, concentration and memory – talk about a win-win situation for the brain and immune system. As an added bonus, we currently have an in-store special running with Sea-Licious Omega-3 fish oils. With every purchase of a Sea-Licious Kids Omega-3 product, you have the choice between two free books, Plant a Seed, or What to Do With What You Grew. This is perfect timing, because it’s a great time to start adding reading back into your routine to help prepare your kids for the school year!
Deep Immune for Kids
This is a product specifically designed to help support the immune system by another great Canadian company, St. Francis Herb Farm. While its formula is slightly different from the adult version, it still contains both Astragalus, as well as Codonopsis. Both are both adaptogenic herbs, also known as adaptogens. What this means is that these herbs have the unique ability to adapt to varying emotional and physical states of the body. The body always wants to be at homeostasis, which is essentially a stable internal state that resists changes from the outside world. Adaptogens help make this happen. Specifically, this product helps to tone and balance the immune system as needed, due to varying degrees of emotional and physical stressors we are constantly exposed to from our environment. According to their website, St. Francis Deep Immune should be given daily. Their product helps to encourage a balanced immune system, which is ultimately a healthy immune system.
Moducare Chewable Tablets
Moducare is another daily supplement taken to help balance out the immune system. This formula is different from the product mentioned above, though, as it is composed of plant sterols and sterolins, also known as phytosterols, which are plant fats. Studies show that phytosterols play an essential role in offering immune-enhancing properties, in correcting immune system imbalances by activating cells that help to regulate immunity. The plant sterols found in this product are naturally found in fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, which children often have a hard time getting enough of in their diets. Moducare helps to supplement these plant sterols in their diet so that they can benefit from their immune supportive function.
Last, but certainly not least on our list is elderberry syrup, also commonly known as Sambucus. Elderberry has been shown to have antiviral properties, especially against the common flu. It is often recommended to take it as soon as you start feeling unwell. This can help reduce the number of days you experience symptoms and also reduce the severity of symptoms. Worried about getting your little one to take it? Don’t worry, elderberry syrup actually tastes delicious (like a sweet berry) in comparison to its conventional counterparts that only suppress symptoms. You really can’t go wrong with picking up a bottle and having it on hand when you feel your little one has an illness coming on. There are a ton of brands out there to choose from. Still, one of my personal favourites is Suro, as it is another Canadian company, is sweetened with honey, and has no gluten, GMO’s and alcohol. Be careful if your little one has allergies to bee stings. It does contain bee propolis, which can cause similar allergic reactions to that of bee stings.
While that was a lot of information to sift through, I hope you’ve gained some insight on ways you can support your children’s immune system as the new school year and fall approaches. I also hope you take away some ideas of ways to incorporate healthy activities into your children’s routine before things get too hectic to do so! Not to mention, feel encouraged to get that routine started soon, as I have a feeling August is going to fly by! What are some activities or ideas that you plan on including into your back to school routine?
More from #ThrivingWithNatures
February is Heart Health Month, and we’ve whipped up three…Read More