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Back to School: Immune Boosting Foods & Herbs

As the back-to-school season sets in, it's not just backpacks and notebooks that are making a comeback – germs and bugs tend to tag along too. But fear not! Arm yourself with the ultimate weapons of defense: immune-boosting foods, powerful herbs, and smart lifestyle choices. Let's dive into some practical tips to keep your family's immune system in tip-top shape as the school year kicks off.

1. Citrus Superstars and Colorful Veggies

When it comes to immune-boosting foods, vitamin C-rich options steal the show. Citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruits, and tangerines are classic sources of this mighty vitamin, known for its ability to support immune function. But don't stop there! Vibrant veggies like red bell peppers, broccoli, and spinach also pack a vitamin C punch. These colorful foods are like a shield against illness, and they're incredibly versatile too – think salads, stir-fries, and even snacking on raw slices.

2. Probiotic Powerhouses

Did you know that a significant portion of our immune system resides in the gut? That's where probiotics come in. These friendly bacteria not only aid digestion but also play a vital role in supporting the immune response. Yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi are some scrumptious sources of probiotics. Consider incorporating these into your family's diet for a gut-friendly immunity boost.

3. Garlic and Onions – Nature's Warriors

Not only do garlic and onions add a burst of flavor to your dishes, but they also boast impressive immune-boosting properties. Their sulfur-containing compounds can help fend off unwanted invaders and keep your immune system primed. Sneak them into soups, stews, and sautés to harness their powerful benefits.

4. The Herbal Arsenal

Nature's medicine cabinet is filled with immune-supportive herbs that have been used for centuries. Echinacea, elderberry, and astragalus are among the herbal heavyweights that can help your family stay healthy. These herbs can be found in various forms – teas, tinctures, and supplements – making it easy to incorporate them into your daily routine.

5. Stress Less for Immune Success

In the hustle and bustle of school schedules and extracurricular activities, don't forget the impact of stress on the immune system. Chronic stress can weaken our defenses, making us more susceptible to illness. Encourage stress-reduction techniques like deep breathing, mindfulness, and spending quality time together as a family.

6. Quality Sleep – the Ultimate Support

Image of child sleeping

A good night's sleep is like a magic elixir for the immune system. While it may be hard to get back into a regular routine after the summer break, the sooner you establish a consistent sleep schedule, the better. Aim for the recommended hours of sleep for your child's age group to ensure their bodies have ample time to recharge and strengthen their immune response.

7. Hydration, Hydration, Hydration

Water isn't just a thirst quencher – it's a vital component in maintaining a robust immune system. Staying hydrated helps flush out toxins and supports various bodily functions, including immune responses. Encourage your kids to carry a water bottle to school and set a hydration example they can follow.

8. Hands-On Hygiene

Practicing good hygiene is a crucial part of immune system upkeep. Teach your children the importance of proper handwashing and personal hygiene habits. Regular handwashing, especially after sneezing or coughing, can significantly reduce the spread of germs.

9. Outdoor Adventures

With the school routine in full swing, don't forget the importance of outdoor play. Sunlight exposure helps the body produce vitamin D, which plays a big role in immune system function. Plan weekend outings or after-school adventures that involve outdoor activities and sun exposure. It’s probably a great idea to supplement with Vitamin D as well during those shorter and darker days in the winter.

10. Family Wellness Check-ins

Lastly, make wellness a family affair. Check in with each other about how everyone's feeling physically and emotionally. Keep communication open so that you can address any health concerns promptly and provide the necessary support.

As the school bells ring and backpacks are slung over shoulders, remember that a strong immune system is your family's best defense against the school-year sniffles. By incorporating immune-boosting foods, powerful herbs, and healthy lifestyle practices, you're giving your kids a head start in the battle against germs. So, here's to a healthy, happy, and successful school year ahead!

Image of Dr. Marita Schauch, BSc. ND