Through the months of March - August, Australia families suffer a much higher rate of sickness and disease—especially kids. In fact, it’s estimated that between the ages of 0-6, little ones can get colds anywhere from 8 to 12 times a year (and adolescents about 2 times a year). But we think that’s still WAY too much. Here are some helpful things you can do to help your children fight off those sick days with the healthiest immune system possible.
Good Germ Exposure
Some exposure to germs can help build a child’s immunity and protect them from illness. As homes become cleaner and more sterile, the immune system doesn’t have to work as hard to defend the body against common bacterial infections—and this may have led to an unintended consequence: allergies. A theory, the “hygiene hypothesis,” developed by Care immunology experts, states underexposure to germs and bacteria are decreasing the body’s ability to fight allergies and asthma later in life. Allow your kids to be kids, get dirty outside and play with friends—and don’t worry incessantly about germs.
As chiropractors, we often see improvements in our patients’ immune systems, including a decrease in or absence of symptoms, faster recovery times and more. Regular adjustments remove interferences between the immune and nervous systems, allowing both to operate more effectively. These two (along with your musculoskeletal system) are intertwined through the lymphatic system, another critical disease-fighting player. Lymph nodes carry immune cells throughout the body via the musculoskeletal system to help fight infection; a healthy musculoskeletal system, achieved through chiropractic, will help traffic these lymph nodes more effectively.
Hand Washing Helps
Studies show hand washing four times a day can reduce gastrointestinal illness up to 50 percent. Make it a mandatory part of your children’s everyday routine; not just before meals but right when they come through the door from school, practice or another friend’s home. Avoid antimicrobial or antibiotic soaps and wipes. These may increase instances of drug-resistant bacteria and studies show they are no more effective in preventing gastrointestinal illness than regular soap.
Probiotics help to regulate the immune system by balancing the good bacteria (flora) in the tummy. These “good” microorganisms potentially reduce the risk of diarrhea and respiratory infections. Bolster your child’s immune system by serving live-cultured products like yogurt or by adding a probiotic supplement to their juice or water. Be sure the probiotic is organic and tested by a third party testing agency (meaning someone outside of the producer and seller). And always consult your paediatrician or primary care doctor before adding supplements into your child’s diet.