With the new school year in full swing and the winter fast approaching, your kids may be bringing home more than just homework. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the average elementary school student can get up to 12 cases of the flu or cold each year and between one and four cases of the dreaded “stomach bug” a year.
If you want to minimize the back-to-school plague this year, make sure you implement the following healthy living tips:
Children are notoriously bad at washing their hands. Instruct your children to use the hottest water they can stand and plenty of soap. Have them wash their hands for about 20 seconds (the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday”). Children should also make sure they get the top of their hands, bottom of their hands, between the fingers and under the nails. According to a study conducted on military recruits, proper hand washing can reduce the rate of viral infections by about 45 percent.
Stay away from danger zones
Schools harbor a lot of viruses and bacteria. You can help your family to stay healthy by instructing children to avoid certain areas, such as drinking fountains, or to wash their hands as soon as possible after touching them.
Instruct your children not to use the drinking fountain. It is often the most contaminated area in a school. Most schools do not clean water fountains as often as they clean bathrooms. Give your children personal water bottles to use and teach them not to share cups, utensils or food with other children.
Cafeteria trays, carpet, computer equipment, stair rails and door knobs can also house viruses. Instruct children to wash their hands frequently during the day to reduce their risk of infection.
Keep hands off
Teach children not to touch other children in the face, especially when a child has sneezed or coughed. Instruct your children to use the “vampire cough,” where they cough into their elbow rather than their hands. Advise them to keep their hands away from their face and out of the mouth.
Ensure a good night’s sleep
Healthy sleep is essential to building a strong immune system. According to data from the CDC, most children need about 10–11 hours of sleep a night. However, many children get fewer than eight hours of sleep a night. Set your child’s bedtime early enough so they can get the recommended 10 hours.
Exercise is a natural immune system booster. Children who exercise regularly for at least 30 to 40 minutes are more likely to have stronger immune systems.
Help children eat right
Children, just like adults, function best on a healthy diet. Feed your children a diet rich in vegetables, fruit, healthy fats (like olive oil and nut fats), high-quality protein, gluten-free whole grains, and full-fat dairy. Restrict your child’s consumption of processed foods, junk foods, sugar, and even juice. Too many sweetened drinks can have a detrimental effect on your child’s health.
By implementing these commonsense steps, you can help your family stay healthy this school year. Give your children all the supplies they need for back to school, including what they need to fight illness.
—The Alternative Daily