Family walking

By Dr John Barnett

As the fall season rolls in, children are back in school and that means increased exposure to viruses, colds, and flu. To boost the family’s health and well-being during this time here are some healthy habits that are easy to incorporate into the daily routine. In this blog post, we’ll explore some essential tips to keep your kids healthy, both physically and mentally.

**Health Tip #1: Spend More Time Outdoors**

One of the best ways to promote your child’s health during the fall is to encourage outdoor activities. Not only does this help keep them away from screens, but exposure to natural sunlight can also boost their immune system. Here are some reasons why outdoor time is essential:

1. Immune System Boost: Sunlight is a natural source of vitamin D, which plays a vital role in strengthening the immune system. Spending time outdoors allows your child to soak up this essential nutrient, helping them fight off infections more effectively.

2. Stress Reduction: Nature has a calming effect on both children and adults. A walk in the park, a hike in the woods, or simply playing in the backyard can reduce stress levels and improve overall well-being.

3. Quality Family Time: Fall offers a picturesque backdrop for family outings. Use this season and the beautiful weather it offers as an opportunity to bond with your kids while exploring nature.

Health Tip #2: Choose Healthy After-School Snacks

After a long day at school, children often come home hungry and ready for a snack. Having nutritious options at the ready that are low in sugar is an important part of supporting the immune system and boosting overall health. Elevated blood sugar is known is decrease immune system function, specifically impairing macrophage activity. Here are some snack ideas to consider:

1. Fresh Fruit: Keep a variety of fresh fruits like apples, pears, and berries readily available. These provide essential vitamins and antioxidants while their fiber content balances the sugar so that they are less likely to spike blood sugar levels.

2. Cut-Up Veggies: Carrots, cucumber slices, and bell pepper strips are excellent choices for after-school snacking. Pair them with a tasty dip like hummus or Greek yogurt to make them more appealing.

3. Nuts: Almonds, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds are packed with healthy fats and protein, making them a satisfying and nutritious snack option. Make sure the nuts are bought fresh and kept in sealed containers (ideally in the freezer) to keep the fats in them from turning rancid.

Health Tip #3: Promote Hand Hygiene

Children often forget the importance of proper handwashing, which is a simple yet effective way to prevent the spread of germs. Encourage your kids to adopt good hand hygiene practices:

1. Reminder Routine: Make handwashing a part of their after-school routine. A quick reminder or doing it together can help reinforce this healthy habit.

2. Proper Technique: Teach your children the correct way to wash their hands, including using soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Show them how to scrub between their fingers and under their nails.

Health Tip #4: Stay Hydrated

Dehydration can affect children just as much as adults, and it’s often overlooked. Encourage your kids to drink plenty of water throughout the day, and make it more appealing by adding a touch of flavor:

1. Citrus Infusion: Squeeze a few drops of fresh lemon or lime into their water. This not only enhances the taste but also provides a boost of vitamin C, which supports the immune system.

2. Fun Flavored Water: Make easy and healthy water options by purchasing an water infuser and make flavored water infusions.  Our favorite is mint and watermelon.

With these tips in mind, you can help your kids stay healthy and resilient during the fall season and beyond. Spending time outdoors, choosing nutritious snacks, promoting hand hygiene, and staying hydrated are simple yet effective ways to support the immune system and overall well-being. By incorporating these habits into their daily routine, you can ensure a happy and healthy autumn for your entire family.