As we are getting ready to go back to school, we can’t help but wonder how long it will take before our child gets sick and the illness spreads through the family. It is the same concern nearly every family of school-aged children has. Now is the time to build up the protective fences to keep illness out of the family, but most have not been taught how to.
A strong immune system is the best defense against illness. It’s not as much about hand washing and avoiding contaminated toys as it is about self defense from a strong immune front. The question that should follow this statement is what do we do to strengthen our immune system, and what do we do that weakens it?
We do plenty to weaken our body’s defenses. The biggest culprit is sugar. Sugar suppresses the immune system. According to Dr William Sears, M.D., the immune-suppressing effect starts 30 minutes after ingestion and lasts up to 5 hours. Other studies confirm the effect for 4-5 hours but add it takes a full 3 days for the immune system to get fully back on line (if other sugar isn’t consumed in that same time period). In addition sugar negatively impacts behavior, attention span and learning ability which was found to deteriorate in proportion to the amount of junk sugar consumed.
This creates emotional stress. Stress is another immune suppressant. Starting back to school can be quite stressful, but a few things can lessen the impact on the body. First of all, adrenal health is important. The adrenals, which are part of the kidney system, are our stress-coping glands. The weaker the function, the less able we are to cope with stress. Sugar and caffeine are two of the biggest offenders. The second is a lack of minerals in the body. Minerals are necessary for adrenal function and are some of the essential raw materials needed for the body to make its own stress-coping, or “happy” brain chemicals. These are found mostly in green-leafy vegetables. If your child won’t consume green vegetables, they can take a mineral food concentrate in a tablet form – however, it has to be food – based, not oxide forms in order for it to work properly.
Good structure in a home also reduces stress. This means a solid routine that kids can depend on to keep emotional balance. In this routine, a good solid breakfast and dinner, comprised of whole, nutritious foods (not packaged, processed foods) is a must! Along with this, a habit of drinking plenty of water, and a reasonable bed time. Children cope better when they are rested. Many parents complain their children resist bedtimes. All children do to varying degrees. But a good parent parents. A parent is not supposed to be the child’s best friend. If you are doing your job as a parent, and not trying to be a friend, your child will hate you once in awhile! Congratulations! You are parenting.
Keeping illness out of the home takes some work. Frankly, I’d rather put my time and energy in keeping my family healthy, rather than putting it into attending sick family members! Start on the road to health now, don’t wait until they start school to do it.
© 2009 Holly A. Carling, O.M.D., L.Ac., Ph.D.