Ask any parent, and they’ll tell you kids are more frequently sick during the colder months, and especially when they’re in school or daycare. Many little ones might not have a solid grasp on the importance of hand hygiene, and are apt to share toys and snacks with their friends. This means germs can more easily spread — making both kids and their parents sick.
There are some things families can do to help keep the sniffles away, from proper hand washing to getting enough rest, and ensuring nutritional needs are met. Read on to find out more.
Ensure Proper Hand Washing
One of the most important tools when it comes to preventing illness of any kind is proper hand washing. Most viruses and bacteria are fragile, and simple soap and water are enough to keep sniffle-causing germs at bay, and is especially important before eating or touching your face.
Have your little one sing the “happy birthday” song twice while washing their hands to ensure they’re scrubbing for about 20 seconds — the recommended hand washing length. Don’t forget to get between the fingers, around the nails, and the backs of the hands.
If you’d prefer a more grownup song to sing yourself, check out what celebrities including Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Annie Murphy, and Miley Cyrus are singing to themselves.
Good nutrition is key for supporting your immune system to fight off the many viruses that typically make their way around this time of year. Vitamin C is one such nutrient that studies have shown can help to reduce the duration and the severity of the common cold for both adults and children alike.
You can find vitamin C in foods such as citrus, strawberries, and bell peppers, as well as supplements like our Nurture by Metagenics Vitamin C buffered tablets, and our Nurture by Metagencis Multi-Vitamin with Phytonutrients.
A factor in the development of healthy teeth and bones, there’s also plenty of evidence linking vitamin D to a healthy immune system. It’s recommended most people get 400–800 IU/day of vitamin D, or 10–20 micrograms, but there are some studies which suggest a daily intake of 1000–4000 IU (25–100 micrograms) is needed for optimal blood levels.
While vitamin D can be obtained through diet — fatty fish and egg yolks are both good sources — you can also get it from sun exposure. However, for those not living close to the equator, getting enough vitamin D without supplementation can be difficult. Many health organizations, including Health Canada recommend daily supplementation with vitamin D for this reason.
Vitamin D is an inexpensive supplement, and is well tolerated by most people. Ensure you’re meeting your daily intake with a supplement such as Nurture by Metagenics Vitamin D3 Liquid, which contains 25 micrograms per drop.
Prepare Healthy Meals
Good nutrition lights the spark to thrive in all of us, no matter who we are, what our age is, or where we live. Enjoying a diet as varied and as colorful as possible will help ensure that you’re getting essential vitamins and minerals necessary for keeping the sniffles at bay.
Prioritize whole foods, and limit packaged foods whenever possible. Meals should contain a balance of protein, healthy fats, carbohydrates, and plenty of vegetables.
Supplements like probiotics can help support a healthy immune system. In fact, a growing body of scientific research is showing that healthy gut bacteria is essential for overall health and wellness. A study in the journal Pediatrics found that supplementing with probiotics for kids aged 3-5 years old can reduce the incidence and duration of respiratory tract infections symptoms.
Nurture by Metagenics offers several different probiotic formulas to help with a variety of health concerns during cold and flu season.
Our Acute Probiotic helps support intestinal health and avoid the risk of unpleasant antibiotic associated diarrhea. It’s shelf stable, meaning you don’t have to worry about finding room for it in the fridge. Each capsule contains 9.5 billion CFUs in a non-GMO, gluten-free formula.
Our Daily Probiotic is perfect for those looking to support their GI health, as it can help contribute to healthy gut flora. Each capsule of our expertly developed, dairy-free formula contains 15 billion live CFUs — guaranteed!
And for little ones, we offer a Kids Probiotic in a delicious, naturally grape-flavoured chewable tablet. Each tablet contains 5 billion live CFUs that help to temporarily modify gut flora, and reduce the duration and symptoms of the common cold.
Encourage Physical Activity
Research shows that regular exercise can help to not only prevent colds and flus, but also help you recover faster should you get sick. In fact, those who exercise for 30-60 minutes on most days of the week have a 40% reduction in sick days during the cold season. If that’s more time than you can squeeze in for exercise, a brisk, daily 10-minute walk on your lunch break or after dinner is all it takes to benefit the body’s immune and other systems.
Kids need at least one hour of exercise per day, while adults should aim for 150 of moderate aerobic activity each week. Setting aside outdoor play time each day can help you both reach that goal, but if outdoor activity isn’t possible, get them moving indoors. Workout videos, exercise challenges, and obstacle courses are all fun indoor fitness ideas.
Ensure Adequate Rest
Sleep is one of the most important factors of a healthy immune system, and getting adequate rest is key for your body’s ability to fight off viruses. Most kids between ages three and 13 need anywhere from 10 to 12 hours of sleep per night. Younger children need more sleep, while older children need a little less.
For healthy adults, between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night is good, while those over the age of 65 should aim for 7 to 8 hours per night.
Ensure you’re getting a restful night slumber by practicing good sleep hygiene — don’t use devices right before or while in bed, keep your bedroom cool and dark, and try to stick to the same sleep and wake times each day.