Redwood Naturopathic Medicine
5 Ways to Keep You and Your Family Healthy Back to School
It is that time of year again, transitioning out of summer vacation and back into the school routine. The busy and sometimes chaotic nature of this transition can be stressful for both children and adults, so it is essential to do what you can to promote healthy wellbeing. This means focusing on a holistic approach to your health and wellbeing, incorporating daily practices that promote healthy mental and physical states. We have put together a few tips and areas of focus that can help your family stay healthy this school year!
Sleep plays an integral role in both your physical and mental health. Sleep plays a crucial role in the strength of the immune system. Lacking sleep weakens the body's ability to fight off illness. Mentally, sleep is essential for proper brain function. Lack of sleep can result in difficulty with focus, problem-solving, and decision-making, making sufficient sleep necessary to maintain a healthy mental state. Physically, sleep is a time when the body repairs and rebuilds itself. The quality of sleep ones has a direct impact on your physical and psychological health. So how much should you be sleeping? Ideally, aim for around 8 hours each night, but for more specific sleep needs, but discussing your individual requirements with your healthcare provider is essential.
Tip #1: An excellent way to improve sleep, especially with little ones, is to stop all screen time at least an hour before bed. The blue light from the screens can suppress melatonin secretion and increase restlessness right before bed.
Your first meal is the most important meal of the day.
What your first meal is made up of is is key to starting the day right. That first meal is a time to replenish your body's glycogen stores. At night your body Eating a balanced breakfast meal within 90 minutes of waking can improve energy levels, alertness, focus, and blood sugar balance. The first meal, is something crucial for school-aged children but also significant to adults and their productivity. What does a balanced breakfast look like? It includes a protein, fiber-rich carbohydrates, and a healthy fat!
Tip #2: For those with limited time in the morning, overnight oats can be a nutritious breakfast that takes less than 5 minutes to prepare each morning. This will require a little prep the night before, but you can put together multiple days worth in under 10 minutes. Load these with nut butter, fruit, yogurt, nuts/seeds, and spices to make these a balanced breakfast on the go!
Stress management is essential to keeping a healthy immune system. Stress can cause a decrease in the immune system's functioning; chronic stress lessens the body's ability to fight off infection even more. Avoiding stress entirely is unrealistic, but taking a few moments throughout the day to de-stress is essential to your overall wellbeing.
Tip #3: Make stress-management fun! If meditation or breathwork sounds daunting, start with a short walk in nature or watch some comedy to have a good laugh. Stress management can look like a phone call with a good friend, dancing to your favorite song, or
About 70% of your immune system is located in your gut. The immune cells in your GI tract interact with your gut microbiome, and the microbiome is directly affected by an individual's diet. Your microbiome functions most efficiently when the diet is diverse and full of fiber. Additionally, when your gut health is good, your ability to absorb the entire range of minerals and micronutrients is higher. Nutrient deficiencies are known to decrease immune efficiency, so it is crucial to be able to absorb nutrients fully.
Tip #4: One way to help the health of your gut is with probiotic-rich foods. Probiotic-rich foods are naturally full of good bacteria for the gut! These can include foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha (be careful with the added sugar), kefir, miso, yogurt, pickled onions, and other fermented vegetables.
Variety in Diet
One way to support your and your family's immune system when heading back to school is to increase variety in the diet. Each fruit and vegetable contains different nutrients that contribute to your body's optimal health. Ideally, you should have 5-7 different plants daily, with one fruit for every four veggies. But another way to ensure this is to make your plate as colorful as possible. Another benefit of getting a variety of fruits/vegetables is your gut; a diverse diet feeds the beneficial bacteria in your gut microbiome more.
Tip #5: Make it a game, making it easy to involve the little ones. Have them find a fruit or vegetable of each color of the rainbow in the grocery store and then take them home and let them take part in prepping it. It can be fun to get everyone excited about trying new things!
Blue Light has a dark side. Harvard Health. (2020, July 7). Retrieved August 15, 2022, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/blue-light-has-a-dark-side
Segerstrom, S. C., & Miller, G. E. (2004). Psychological stress and the human immune system: a meta-analytic study of 30 years of inquiry. Psychological bulletin, 130(4), 601–630. https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.130.4.601
Dhabhar F. S. (2014). Effects of stress on immune function: the good, the bad, and the beautiful. Immunologic research, 58(2-3), 193–210. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12026-014-8517-0