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 SleepFoundation.org.
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:
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.
The Importance of Managing Diabetes After a COVID-19 Diagnosis
COVID-19 is uncharted territory for all of us. Even frontline healthcare workers are learning about the disease day by day as they care for others. Although much remains unknown about the novel coronavirus, we do know that it poses a higher risk of complications for those who have diabetes or another underlying health condition. Targeted nutrition may be able to help. Diabetes management and nutritional therapy can help you achieve good glycemic control, a key component to better overall health and improved outcomes after a COVID-19 diagnosis. But first, it's important to understand how the two conditions intersect. How Does COVID-19 Impact People With Diabetes? We know that hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar, is associated with reduced immunity and poorer COVID-19 outcomes. For people with diabetes who are also in hospital, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends a target glucose range of 140–180 mg/dL for most patients. For those not in hospital, the ADA recommends a target A1c of 7%. Research into the relationship between diabetes and COVID-19 is ongoing, but data strongly suggests that glucose control is important following COVID-19 infection. CDC information suggests that about 28% of people in the US who are hospitalized with COVID-19 also have diabetes. The presence of hyperglycemia at admission in COVID-19 patients, not just those with diabetes, may be an indicator or worse outcomes. Practical recommendations for glucose control in COVID-19 suggest an A1c target of 7% or less. Poorly controlled diabetes (A1c > 7%) was associated with a greater risk of death from COVID-19. As we continue to learn more about transmission and prevention of COVID-19, managing blood sugar is key to better health outcomes, particularly for people with diabetes. Targeted nutrition is one way to help support those efforts. Why Is Nutrition Vital in Diabetes Management and COVID-19 Recovery? Regular diabetes management, as recommended by the ADA, includes medical nutritional therapy, which can help you achieve good glycemic control and includes personally optimizing carbohydrate intake and improving diet quality. Balanced nutrition will help manage blood sugar levels and keep blood sugar within normal ranges as well as provide the daily required nutrients, especially when you're ill. Eating smaller, regular meals and focusing on a balance of macro and micronutrients can help you manage your glucose both during times of illness and every single day. If you need additional nutritional support, consider adding a diabetes-specific formula (DSF) to your eating plan. Diabetes specific formulas, like Glucerna can help you manage your blood sugar. They also provide several key nutrients and health benefits, including: "Slow-release carbohydrates with a low glycemic index, which can help minimize the effect on blood sugar levels." "Monounsaturated fatty acids, which are associated with several health benefits." "Prebiotics and dietary fiber, which promote gastrointestinal health." "High-quality protein and other nutrients for immune system support, including antioxidants (selenium and vitamins C and E), vitamin D, vitamin A and zinc." The Look AHEAD study, has shown that meal replacements, including diabetes-specific formula, have improved outcomes versus standard lifestyle interventions. The enhanced weight loss1 was associated with improved glycemic outcomes2, blood pressure3 and reduced healthcare costs over 10 years4. Although there are still many unknowns surrounding COVID-19, one thing is certain: For people with diabetes, good nutrition is a key component of managing blood sugar following any diagnosis. Keeping your glucose in check is important for people with diabetes every day; incorporating DSFs to fill any nutrition gaps, or replace poor meal or snack choices, may help improve your overall health. 1 Look AHEAD Research Group, et al. Diabetes Care. 2007;30(6):1374–1383 2 Look AHEAD Research Group, et al. Arch Intern Med. 2010;170(17):1566–1575 3 Wing RR, et al. Diabetes Care 2016;39(8):1345-55 4 Diabetes Care. 2014 Sep; 37(9): 2548–2556. doi: 10.2337/dc14-0093