3 Tips for Supporting Your Child's Immunity During Flu Season

How to Support Your Childs Immunity During Flu Season

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If there's anything the past year has taught us, it's to expect the unexpected. With flu season right around the corner, these strategies can help your family stay prepared. 

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DEC. 04, 2020    3 MIN. READ

When your family is cooped up inside, keeping your kids healthy and happy can seem like a challenge. Factor in the constraints of a pandemic, and life can seem even more complicated.

That's where a trusted health and well-being strategy comes in. An immune- supporting plan can help keep your family strong and safe (and sane) throughout this year's flu season.

Here are three tips for helping support your child's health and immunity during the upcoming season.

1. Prioritize Wellness Over Everything

A hearty immune system is the first step toward successfully fighting the flu. But what are the best ways to stay healthy in today's world?

In addition to wearing masks and practicing proper hand hygiene, you'll want to make sure your child is up to date with checkups and vaccinations, especially the flu vaccine, noted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While you're at it, take a few minutes to learn the signs and symptoms of the flu and how it differs from COVID-19, as explained by the CDC. That way, you'll be ready to take prompt action if your child or other family members become ill.

Now is also a good time to focus on helping boost your child's immune health. A diet rich in foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein provide immune rich ingredients  which provides the building blocks the body needs for vigorous defenses. Establishing regular bedtimes is especially important as lack of sleep can suppress the immune system, increasing susceptibility to illnesses like the cold and flu, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

2. Remember to Make Time for Fun

If you're stretched for ways to keep your child busy, these at-home activities can help both of you stay engaged and healthy:

  • Get busy in the kitchen. Cooking is a fantastic way to bond with your kids — and improve their nutrition in the process. Let your little ones prepare their own immune rich snacks by spooning vitamin C-filled strawberries into yogurt or spreading vitamin E-rich peanut butter on crackers. You can ask older children to whip up high-protein scrambled eggs or French toast for a family breakfast or to help with dinner by preparing a salad or favorite vegetable side dish.

  • Bring the outdoors inside. A study in Frontiers in Psychology revealed that spending time in nature can help strengthen the immune system. Even though it's cold outside, you can still keep your child connected to the great outdoors with a virtual trip to the zoo or an online visit to a national park

  • Encourage exercise. Physical activity has multiple benefits for kids, according to MedlinePlus, such as better immune health, sounder sleep and improved learning, to name a few. No wonder MedlinePlus recommended an hour of exercise every day! To help your child move more, try an online exercise class. There are loads to choose from, and many are free.

  • Chill out. According to the American Psychological Association, stress can weaken the immune system. Help your child unwind by curling up with a story, listening to a podcast or practicing yoga together.

3. Keep the Lines of Communication Open

Close relationships play an important role in immune health, reported Harvard Health Publishing. Even though play dates, sleepovers and after-school activities might be on hold right now, your child can still stay connected with pals and loved ones. For instance, supervised virtual play dates are an easy way to build and maintain friendships.

The computer can also be a helpful way to solidify family bonds. A weekly family Skype or Zoom session can be a great opportunity to catch up with aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents.

But the computer isn't the only way to stay connected. Now is also an ideal time to introduce your child to the lost art of letter writing. Corresponding with grandma, grandpa or a pen pal can give your child something new and different to look forward to. Plus, a study in Advances in Cognitive Psychology showed that writing by hand can actually improve kids' reading and writing skills (and may even strengthen memory).

Even though flu season peaks between December and February, according to the CDC, these strategies can keep your child smiling and well all year-round.

How to Help Prevent Stomach Flu and the Influenza

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Last flu season in the U.S., there were as many as 49 million estimated cases of influenza, causing around 940,000 hospitalizations and nearly 80,000 deaths. Those numbers might sound daunting, but there are steps you can take to help prevent the flu. To get ready for flu season, we spoke with two Abbott experts to answer the most frequently asked questions.

Jennifer Williams, MPH, a nutrition research scientist specializing in hydration and Dr. Norman Moore, Ph.D., director of scientific affairs and infectious disease, discuss how to prevent stomach flu and influenza (flu), and how to recognize and treat it in the instances when you can't. 

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Ask the Expert: Which Foods Support Immunity?

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In this series, our experts answer nutrition questions to help you nourish your best life at every age. To submit a question for consideration*, email us.

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