Smart Ways to Boost Your Family’s Immune System

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Even with the arrival of vaccines, you need to safeguard your family’s immune health. Children under the age of 12 aren’t yet eligible for a shot, although manufacturers hope to win FDA approval for this use by the end of this year.

What can you do to help keep your loved ones from getting sick? Here are five proven and smart ways to boost your family’s immune system and keep them safer from all varieties of nasty germs.

1. Improve Everyone’s Diets

The foods your loved ones eat influence their immune function. Even if you aren’t Catholic, it’s wise to embrace fish Fridays—and extend them an extra day a week. Seafood is rich in vitamins, minerals and Omega-3 fatty acids, all of which benefit your immunity.

Furthermore, eating more fish can prevent the number one killer, heart disease. Research performed by the Harvard School of Public Health reveals that two 3-ounce servings weekly slash your heart disease risk by 36%.

Likewise, increasing your family’s intake of whole, plant-based foods helps. These provide rich sources of antioxidants, which fight against damaging free radicals. Free radicals cause cellular damage and disease, stressing your immune system. Antioxidants neutralize these damaging molecules by adding missing electrons. The wider variety of plants you eat, the better your chances of getting what you need most.

Certain items can increase inflammation, making your body think it is sick when it isn’t. As a result, you tax your immune system—minimize your family’s intake of processed meat, refined carbohydrates and oils with a preponderance of omega-6 fatty acids, like canola and soybean.

2. Get Everyone Moving

Exercise may help to boost immune function through several mechanisms. One is by temporarily raising core temperature, killing bacteria and viruses. It’s similar to what your body does when you run a fever.

Research also indicates that exercise increases activity levels in white blood cells. The more of these disease-fighting cells you have seeking out and destroying germs, the lower your chances of getting sick.

Get your family moving by taking a walk together after dinner. You might have better luck getting your kids to open up about problems at school or with friends than you do around the table. Head to the playground as often as you can. You can also sneak in a workout by doing picnic-table pushups and monkey-bar pullups—or merely chasing your little ones.

3. Go Outside

People in Japan live longer, lead healthier lives, and having access to superior health care isn’t their only longevity secret. They also practice shinrin-yoku, or forest-bathing, a healthy habit that your family can adopt to boost their immune health.

Researchers studied people who participated in the practice and discovered an increased number and activity in natural killer cells, a type of white blood cell that eradicates germs. The secret lies in phytoncides, chemicals that plants exude for defense. When humans breathe them in, it bolsters their immune function.

Best of all, the effects last for up to 30 days after a stint in the forest. If you haven’t decided on a family summer vacation yet, why not pack up your tent and go camping? You’ll save money and boost your family’s immune health at the same time.

4. Mitigate Stress

While you need some stress, too much of it can wreak havoc on your overall health. Prolonged time under tension contributes to excess cortisol production, a hormone that can spell trouble in several ways.

One is that it prompts you to crave foods high in fat and calories. From an evolutionary standpoint, this mechanism helped you have sufficient energy to outrun hungry lions—but it backfires in increased obesity levels in modern times.

Excess cortisol also alters your immune and digestive functions. The problem is, you’re more likely to encounter nasty germs than angry bears in today’s world.
The solution? Practice healthy stress-management techniques yourself and share them with your family. One method is getting organized. Teach your children how to use a planner to stay on top of school assignments and use family calendar apps to make sure everyone shows up for their soccer matches on time.

Encourage your kids to engage in activities like yoga and arts. Foster positive friendships that give them a support system outside of the home.

5. Adhere to a Regular Bedtime

Your body needs sleep to maintain a healthy immune system. During slumber, your body produces cytokines, proteins that play a vital role in fighting germs. Inadequate shuteye throws off your levels, leaving you or your family at risk of infection.

Modern electronic devices rob more folks of sleep than ever, thanks to the blue light from screens impacting circadian rhythms and melatonin. Please create a family charging station in the kitchen or living area so that your kids or spouse don’t lie awake scrolling until 1 a.m.

The novel coronavirus isn’t the only nasty germ you have to worry about today. Boost your family’s immune system these five simple ways and prepare for any cold or flu bug you or your loved ones encounter.

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Kara Reynolds is the Editor-in-Chief and founder of Momish Magazine.  A mom of four and matriarch to her big blended family, Kara wants nothing more than to normalize differences in family structures.  She enjoys peeing alone, pancakes, and pinot noir - but not at the same time. 

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