Thursday, August 26, 2021

How To Boost Your Kids Immunity Going Into The School Year


The best foods for immunity-boosting in kids

Knowing the best foods that can help boost immunity can help you meal-plan for your child, whether that’s mealtime or an afterschool snack. Here are some important foods to cycle in.

Zinc, the immunity linchpin

One of the most important minerals that can help a kid’s immune system is zinc.  It’s typically found in protein-based foods. So oysters, red meat and poultry are some of the best sources.

Beans and nuts are also a good source for zinc, though the animal-based foods will deliver more of the mineral. 

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), the recommended daily intake of zinc for kids is:

  • Birth to 6 months: 2 mg
  • Infants 7–12 months: 3 mg
  • Children 1–3 years: 3 mg
  • Children 4–8 years: 5 mg
  • Children 9–13 years: 8 mg
  • Teens 14–18 years (boys): 11 mg
  • Teens 14–18 years (girls): 9 mg

But be careful; the NIH also notes it’s possible to have too much zinc, which can result in nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, stomach cramps, diarrhea, and headaches. According to the NIH, the upper limits of daily zinc intake are: 

  • Birth to 6 months: 4 mg
  • Infants 7–12 months: 5 mg
  • Children 1–3 years: 7 mg
  • Children 4–8 years: 12 mg
  • Children 9–13 years: 23 mg
  • Teens 14–18 years: 34 mg

Probiotics and prebiotics for a gut-check

It’s also important, to give kids a good source of probiotics. Our gut harnesses a tremendous amount of bacteria. Some are healthy and some are not and probiotics help create a better balance of that healthy versus unhealthy bacteria.

Not only do a lot of yogurts contain probiotics, but that’s a popular food with kids.  Just make sure the sugar content is below 6grams. 

Fermented foods, are also a good source, including, kefir, sauerkraut and pickles. Also, apple cider vinegar is a good way to work in probiotics into a diet. 

Additionally, you should be sure to get your kids prebiotics. Prebiotics are plant fibers that stimulate the growth of good bacteria. Excellent sources of prebiotics are green bananas or plantains, Jicama root, yams and asparagus

Nuts and seeds, a power-packed snack

Walnuts, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds and ground flaxseeds all provide alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) which is the plant form of omega-3 fatty acids, which are shown to fight illness.

Nuts and seeds are power foods for the multitude of nutrients they provide. Just to name a few, they source protein, fiber, “good” fats like mono- and polyunsaturated fats, potassium, magnesium, zinc, copper, manganese and vitamins E, B6, B12 and A.

Fruits and vegetables

This might sound pretty general, but these are always good standbys. Fruits and veggies provide various antioxidants which protect cells from damage and disease. Foods rich in antioxidants include berries and green vegetables such as broccoli and dark, leafy greens like spinach, kale, collard and mustard greens.

These power foods pack a punch when it comes to vitamins and nutrients like vitamins A, C, E, B2, B6, K, potassium, folate, magnesium, potassium and zinc.

And, of course, vitamin C is key to boosting immunity, and available in citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruit. Strawberries are great sources for vitamin C, too.

What about supplements?

We really encourage food, not supplements. There are times, though, when supplements make sense. Maybe you’re dealing with a picky eater or you’re struggling with a kid’s diet to get them the nutrients. In those cases, supplements can help.

One good example is Vitamin D. While your kids can get Vitamin D by soaking up sunshine, that’s harder to do when using sunscreen, during the cooler months and during the school year. 

Although foods can provide Vitamin D, you can’t obtain enough through just your diet so, in many cases, a supplement is suggested.

The amount of vitamin D you need each day depends on your age. Average daily recommended amounts for kids and adolescents are listed below in micrograms (mcg) and International Units (IU): I

  • Birth to 12 months: 10 mcg (400 IU)
  • Children 1–12 years: 15 mcg (600 IU)
  • Teens 13–19 years: 15 mcg (600 IU)

Non-food tips

It’s not just food that can help your kids stay healthy throughout the school year. In fact, good sleep habits are essential for kids. 

Good, restful sleep is crucial for kids. Sleep is when our bodies rest, regenerate and heal. It’s an essential part of keeping our immune systems functioning as best they can.

Exercise is also important because physical activity can help keep your body resilient and more likely to fight off infections. Make sure your kids keep their bodies moving.

And one more way to help kids healthy is minimizing stress and anxiety, an admittedly tall task given the ongoing pandemic and the effects it has on kids. From concerns about getting sick to the stress of being separated from friends, it’s a tough time for kids and mindfulness can help. 

Deep breathing, meditation and communication can help pinpoint sources of anxiety and stress. Talk to your kids about ways that you can work together to minimize any negative feelings they may be having during these uncertain times.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Healthy Activities For The Whole Family


Make it a priority. There are many priorities in life—physical activity should be one of them. If you make fitness a priority, your kids are more likely to do the same. Carve out 30 minutes on several days of the week for “fun fitness time.” Take an after-dinner stroll or engage in a Saturday afternoon game of soccer in the park. Take turns choosing the “activity” days and contribute ideas for what to do.

Play. A child’s natural language is play. If you have younger children who aren’t ready for organized sports or other activities requiring more advanced motor skills, engage in active play. Take a trip to the park, go swimming, plant a garden, play tag or chase your toddler around the yard (or the house if the weather is unfriendly).

Make yard work a game. Not every chore has to be just that—a chore. Turn a mundane job into a game of “who can finish their task first.” Fall is the perfect time to rake leaves (and jump into the pile), mow the lawn and prune the landscaping. The same strategy can be applied to winter tasks such as shoveling the sidewalk or driveway—encourage kids to build a snow tunnel or fort.

Go on a scavenger hunt. This is great for older children. Create a neighborhood scavenger hunt. Make a list of items to find or collect, pair up and see who can collect all the items the fastest. Have a small family? Invite some friends to join in the fun.

Take a nature discovery walk. With all the technology in our lives, many of us don’t spend nearly enough time outside. Taking a nature walk with your family allows you to get some fresh air, explore the surroundings and learn something new. Invest in a book about the local trees, flowers or birds in your area and take a walk on a trail or walking path to see what you can discover.

Schedule a weekly game or sport night. This is great if your kids enjoy organized activities. Set aside an evening that is devoted to a family-friendly game of volleyball, soccer, football or other activity of choice. Take turns as a family deciding which game or sport to play each week.

Train for an event together. Training for an upcoming event such as a 5K or cycling race is a fantastic way to get fit together and provide a source of motivation for your family members.

Dance. Who doesn’t love music? And what’s better than moving to the music? Have a family dance party. You can introduce your kids to some of your favorite tunes and they can do the same for you.

Regardless of how you choose to encourage family-centered fitness, the goal is twofold. First, to spend quality time together as a family. Second, to teach your family that fitness isn’t to be perceived as a chore, but rather a path to a healthy lifestyle that can be traveled together.

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Stay Hydrated During The Summer Heat

Know the Signs of Dehydration

The human body is made up of mostly water. In fact, as much as 60 percent of an adult human is water. It’s an essential life source and responsible for many bodily functions, from crying and spitting to flushing waste and regulating body temperature.

Dehydration sets in when your body doesn’t have enough water. Some of the signs of dehydration include:

  • Dark yellow urine
  • Lack of sweating
  • Dry skin
  • Rapid heart rate and breathing
  • Dizziness

You don’t want to get caught in the heat without enough water in your system.

7 Tips to Stay Hydrated in Summer

Get a big water bottle.

If you invest in a refillable water bottle, you’ll always be able to take water with you wherever you go. You can find bottles with time markers on the side to help you keep track of your daily water intake. You can fill it up and head out for the day and not have to worry about stopping to buy water or another drink. You’ll always have it on hand whether you’re going to the gym or jogging around town.

Eat more fruits and veggies.

You don’t always have to drink water to stay hydrated. Fruits and certain vegetables contain a lot of water and will keep you hydrated while you’re in the sun. Watermelon, lettuce, grapes and other fruits and nonstarchy veggies are good choices to keep dehydration from sneaking up on you in the summer. Eat more of these foods every day while also drinking plenty of fluids to keep your hydration at an optimum level.

Sip on fruit smoothies.

Maybe you don’t want to eat a bunch of fruit and vegetables every day. That’s okay – drink them instead. Making fruit and green smoothies is a great way to get your daily allowance of vitamins and minerals while also increasing your hydration levels. Not only are you adding hydrating fruits to the smoothie but also plenty of ice. Not only will the smoothie taste great and hydrate you, it will also regulate your body temperature. If you’re worn out from being in the sun all day, a fruit smoothie will help you to feel like a normal person again.

Drink plain coconut water.

Coconuts contain a lot of potassium and electrolytes to help keep you hydrated. It’s good for relieving muscle aches and cramps and doesn’t contain any fat. It does, however, contain a lot of calories, so you might not want to substitute coconut water for regular water. If you plan to drink coconut water, buy the plain kind. Some coconut waters come with additional flavoring or sugar added. The plain coconut water tastes great as-is and will work wonders for replenishing your body in the summer.

Watch your coffee and beer intake.

You probably already know that drinking coffee makes you pee. That’s because it contains caffeine and causes a diuretic effect. There’s no real evidence that caffeine increases your risk for dehydration. However, if you’re peeing a lot and not drinking enough water to replace it, it could have negative side effects.

Alcohol also has a diuretic effect and is known to cause dehydration. It messes with the antidiuretic hormone in the body, making it harder to absorb water. If you drink a lot of alcohol while in the sun, you’ll lose more fluids and not be able to replace them quickly enough.

Drink alcohol in moderation, and accompany it with a few glasses of water. If you’re spending a day on the lake and drinking alcohol, spend some time in the shade, and make sure to bring water and other hydrating fluids and foods with you.

Eat oatmeal for breakfast.

Is breakfast really the most important meal of the day? It is when you start the day with a bowl of oatmeal. Oats expand as they absorb water, so you’re not only getting a good meal but also plenty of fluids. If you add blueberries or strawberries, you’ll get even more water just by eating your oatmeal. Don’t like fruit in your oatmeal? Try chia seeds. They also soak up water and will help to keep you full until lunch.

Stay Hydrated in the Summer Sun

You can get water without having to drink it from a bottle. Sip on smoothies, eat some watermelon or crack open a can of coconut water. Just make sure to drink plenty of hydrating fluids each day and to carry water or a sports drink with you when you work or play under the hot summer sun.


Thursday, August 5, 2021

Change Behavior; Reach Your Goals


If turning your health and fitness goals into reality feels overwhelming, you’re not alone.

Reaching any goal requires you to make changes. And asking yourself to alter habits or behaviors that you have cultivated over your lifetime, whether intentionally or subconsciously through repetition, is a tall order.

Health professionals and researchers have long been trying to unlock the mystery of behavior change to help people improve their health and fitness, and they have uncovered several methods of behavior change you can use to take small, achievable steps that will lead you to success.

A common misconception about behavior change is that the process is going to be difficult, but the results will come quickly. In reality, the success lies in making small, achievable changes over a long period of time, creating healthy habits that last.

To adopt healthy behaviors—eat healthy, exercise daily, sleep well and manage stress—you must have patience and do what you can to make it fun.

3 Easy Ways to Start Changing Your Behavior

Positive Psychology

“Positive psychology,” explain researchers, “is the scientific study of valued subjective experiences: well-being, contentment, and satisfaction (in the past); hope and optimism (for the future); and flow and happiness (in the present).” This behavior-change method encourages you to focus on your strengths rather than on your deficits. Look for opportunities to create a strengths-based, forward-looking, and supportive environment that helps enrich a meaningful behavior change journey rather than trying to fix what is wrong with you. This method has a lot to do with mindset, which is a significant component of any behavior-change effort. You cannot separate your brain from your body, so doing the mental work is equally as important as physically moving your body.

Try this: Start a gratitude journal.

Quite possibly one of the most effective forms of positive psychology is gratitude journaling, which is simply appreciating what you have. In the morning before you get on your phone or turn on the news, sit down with a piece of paper and a pen and write down three things you are grateful for. This can be anything from clean air or a sunny day to the cup of coffee you’re drinking as you write. You could also take a mindful walk through nature, stopping to appreciate the sights and sounds.

Self-Determination Theory

Also known as the theory of human motivation, this method focuses on your potential and desire as a human to grow and connect. Of all the things that will help you change your health- and exercise-related behaviors, community might be the most powerful. Competence (feeling like you’ve done a good job), autonomy (owning your changes) and relatedness (the power of community and connecting with others) are the bedrocks of this theory.

Try this: Find a workout buddy. Join a walking club or get a family member or friend to join you in your efforts to be more active. on this mission of making positive changes. See how the accountability of another person increases your motivation and determination.


Having a goal is important, but making sure it is a SMART goal—specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound—has been shown to lead to greater success.

Try this: Create a SMART Goal. If you want to become a faster, fitter walker, for example, consider signing up for a walking event. This goal is specific (how many miles you’ll walk), attainable (start with a realistic mileage, depending on your current fitness level), relevant (walking is something most people find enjoyable, and training for this event will help make progress toward the goal) and time-bound (the date of the event gives you a set target to aim for when training). This same process can be used with a wide range of goals, including losing weight, increasing strength or improving your diet. The key is to make sure that your goal includes all the elements of a SMART goal so you end up with a specific plan rather than a vague idea of what you need to do to achieve it.

Change is not easy and it takes time. Don’t underestimate the power of a good mindset, be curious about this process and have fun with your journey.