​How to Keep Healthy and Fit For School

​How to Keep Healthy and Fit For School

Keeping healthy is just as important as all other things that children are taught to be great at. Keeping healthy will help kids to grow strong bodies and minds. Furthermore, developing healthy habits at the early age is more likely to be continued into adulthood. Back to school is time to optimize health and get back to routine. Setting up sleep and nutrition routines helps with happier, healthier transition.

Proper nutrition, diet, physical activity, balanced immune system, and cognitive health are some of the key factors to start and maintain a healthy school year.

Keep healthy with optimized nutrition:

The key concerning nutrients for children and teens are Iron, Calcium, Vitamin D, Vitamin A, Omega 3 fatty acids. Taking a high quality multivitamin ensures your kids and teens are getting their basic nutrients. Omega 3 is the nourishes the brain, modulates immune system, and helps with balancing hormones and mood in teens.

Maintain a healthy immune system:

Common cold:

Common cold is a leading cause of medical visits and missed days at work or school. The common cold is a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract that causes symptoms such as a runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, coughing, and sore throat. Systemic symptoms such as mild headache, fatigue, fever, and muscle aches can also occur with the common cold. When these symptoms are severe and/or accompanied by fever or significant exhaustion, they likely indicate the "flu", which is a different type of viral respiratory infection caused by an influenza virus. Treatment for the common cold are generally to relieve symptoms, shorten duration, and minimize the risk of complications.

Science based evidence show that nutrients such as vitamin D, vitamin C, zinc, and natural compounds including beta glucan and lactoferrin, medecinal herbs like Astragalus, Echinacea, and elderberry as well as probiotics help manage symptom duration and intensity associated with the common cold.

Evidently vitamin D has a significant role in the regulating human immune system, and may reduce the risk of certain bacterial and viral infections. Theories suggests that vitamin D supplementation may help body to produce a compound known as cathelicidin which is a naturally occurring antimicrobial and antiviral which is useful against respiratory infections such as the common cold. Plus there is link between higher vitamin D levels and decreased risk of contracting a seasonal viral infection.

Studies suggest Vitamin C enhances the production and action of white blood cells; for instance it increases the ability of neutrophil white blood cells to fight off viruses. Vitamin C has been shown to reduce the chances of catching a cold, and may reduce cold duration. Date from clinical studies, found that using vitamin C (1000 mg) plus zinc (10 mg) during a cold could reduce runny nose symptoms by up to 27 % over 5 days of treatment compared to placebo. Zinc helps maintain a healthy immune system. Zinc deficiency is common and affects approximately 2 billion people worldwide. Correcting zinc deficiency through supplementation is shown to improve the immune system. Zinc prevents the attachment of rhinovirus to cells in the nasal passages; furthermore, it prevents viral replication, reduces histamine release, and inhibits the production of other inflammatory markers.

Astragalus membranaceus contains a number of immune-stimulating compounds which have been researched for their application for treating immune deficiency conditions. In a clinical study which compared different natural products including echinacea, astragalus membranaceus, and licorice, Astragalus membranaceus demonstrated the strongest ability to activate immune cells.

Elderberry, also known as Sambucus nigra is a rich source of antioxidants and today, elderberry extract is employed to manage different types of viral infections such as common cold. Researchers believe that elderberry can activate white blood cells. The German Commission E (a therapeutic guide for the safety and efficacy of herbal products) has identified the constituents of elderberry as effective for the relief of colds.

Echinacea is one of the most popular herbs used for the treatment and prevention of upper respiratory tract infections such as the common cold. Clinical evidence is indicative of echinacea being able to reduced severity and duration of cold symptoms, as well as to increase total white blood cell count.

Lactoferrin is an iron-binding protein in milk, which is also a powerful immune modulator. Lactoferrin has shown to fight bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and viruses. In vitro studies found that lactoferrin could inhibit the ability of certain viruses to bind to cell receptor sites.

Beta-glucans are naturally occurring compound of the certain plants' and mushrooms cell wall. These polysaccharides have been shown to increase immune defense, enhancing macrophage and natural killer cell function. Beta glucans are found to be able to inhibit the common cold symptoms. In studies, those participants who consumed beta-glucans had 23% fewer upper respiratory tract infections, compared to the placebo group.


An allergy is results of a profound immune respond to a harmless environmental substance. Epidemiological studies shows that the number of allergic diseases has increased worldwide over the last few decades. Allergic diseases include atopic dermatitis, allergic rhinitis, asthma, food, drug and insect allergy, urticaria or hives and angioedema which is swelling beneath the skin.

Common inhaled allergens include tree and flower pollen, animal dander, dust, and mold. Ingested allergens include medications and foods such as eggs, peanuts, wheat, tree nuts, and shellfish. High levels of certain elements such as nickel, copper can also cause allergies.

These allergens may affect different parts of the body. Common Symptoms of allergies include itching, stuffy and/or runny nose, postnasal drip, facial pressure, pain, tingling sensation in the mouth, swollen mouth and lips, itchy throat, irritated eyes, respiratory conditions such as wheezing, coughing, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, skin irritations, hives, rashes, and gastrointestinal symptoms stomach like cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea. These symptoms can occur within minutes to days after exposure and can range from mild to severe.

Use of antibiotics along with the widespread use of antimicrobial agents in consumer products like soap have reduced disturbs the microflora balance. Various studies suggest that the use of probiotics provide significant clinical benefits to modulate immune health and reduce frequency and severity of the allergic reactions.

Probiotics containing Lactobabillus casei decreased the frequency and severity of nose and eye symptoms and improved the quality of preschool children with seasonal allergic rhinitis. Clinical trial suggests that BB536 favorably modulated intestinal microbiotia, lessening the burden of allergens, in subjects with cedar pollen allergies. Other clinical studies on L. plantarum showed that it is effective in reducing eosinophil (specialized white blood cells which response to allergies) counts decreased immediately after intake in the group. Also, there are plenty of studies which are indicative of beneficial use of probiotics such as Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG) and supplemental probiotics mixture in prevention and treatment of allergic conditions including atopic dermatitis and food sensitivities such as cow milk.

Vitamin D plays an important role in modulating immune system and, in particular, allergic diseases. It is well known that vitamin D receptors are found in variety of tissues and cells in the human body, including immune cells which are important in the recognition of antigens. Vitamin D also has multiple cytokine-modulating effects. This vitamin has also been shown to have a role in airway remodeling, which may be important in managing asthma. Molecular studies provide evidence that vitamin D can regulate inflammatory responses, enhance antimicrobial peptide activity and promote the integrity of the permeability of the skin.

Vitamin D deficiency is associated with an increased incidence of asthma and allergy symptoms, higher IgE responses to food and environmental allergens in children and adults.

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that acts as a free-radical scavenger and it also has been shown to inhibit the activation of neutrophils – cells that contribute to respiratory inflammation in asthma. Several studies provide evidence of the link between vitamin E intake and asthma or allergic diseases. A case-control studies reported that childhood asthma is associated with low dietary vitamin E intake. In a clinical study of atopic dermatitis, patients who were given oral supplement of 400 IU vitamin E daily for 8 months reported remarkable improvement in facial redness, scaling and thickening of the skin; Furthermore, their eczema lesions healed quicker as due to less itchiness of the skin.

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is an antioxidant which protects the cells against free radicals, it is able to improve the function of many immune cells, and it provides antihistamine properties which may help relieve allergy symptoms. Animal studies showed that high dose vitamin C supplementation greatly reduced lung inflammation.

Magnesium is utilized by every cell in the body and participates in at least 350 enzymatic processes within the body. Evidence based studies suggest that magnesium plays a role in immune response, and that deficiency may contribute to increased inflammation. Supplementation with taking 200 - 290 mg of magnesium daily for 16 weeks significantly reduced the use of bronchodilators in children with mild to moderate asthma. More recently, long term treatment with oral magnesium (170 mg twice a day for 6.5 months) in adults with mild to moderate asthma showed improvement in objective measures of bronchial reactivity and quality of life.

Studies suggest that the omega-3 fatty acids docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid reduce the production of inflammatory cytokines which are involved in the allergic response.

Quercetin, one of the most common flavonoids found in a variety of foods and has been extensively studied for its ability to reduce allergic symptoms. It has been shown to reduce the release of histamine from mast cells, also it is shown to suppress the inflammatory response of immune cells upon antigen recognition.

Patients with nasal allergies treated with quercetin experienced rapid and significant relief of nasal symptoms that was comparable to antihistamine preparations. In two independent randomized controlled studies on individuals with pollen allergies, taking 100 mg of a quercetin-related compound for 8 weeks, greatly reduced nasal symptoms compared to placebo group.

Keep a healthy brain and mood:

Integrative medicine has been shown to effectively improve brain health and help to maintain focus, attention, and cognitive health. For example, data from studies suggest that supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids, Phosphatidylserine (PS), Acetyl-L-carnitine, vitamin B6 and magnesium to be beneficial for those affected by attention disorders.

Nutritional deficiencies, brain injury, environmental toxins, and diet are the main contributors to the brain health, memory, learning, and focus. Studies indicate that children who eat a balanced breakfast containing proteins, vitamins, and minerals have better attention level during morning hours at school.

Hyperactivity and poor attention in general are linked to omega-3 deficiency. A comprehensive review by researchers at Yale University found that supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids modestly improved symptoms of attention disorders.

Phosphatidylserine (PS) is a major part of cell membranes and is considered one of the most important brain nutrients. PS has a variety of functions within the brain including supporting cell membrane fluidity and beneficially influencing neurotransmitter systems. Results from several clinical trials indicate that PS improves symptoms of inattention, impulsive, and short-term memory. PS is well tolerated and No adverse effects were reported.

Acetyl-L-carnitine is a natural derivative of L-carnitine. Acetyl-L-carnitine plays a key role in the metabolism of fatty acids and cellular energy production. Randomized, double-blind trials, found Acetyl-L-carnitine to have a beneficial effect on cognition, hyperactivity and social behavior.

Both magnesium and vitamin B6 deficiency have been observed in children with attention disorders. A study on 40 participants found that supplementation with magnesium and vitamin B6 led to improvements in hyperactivity and school attention; although when the treatment was discontinued, the children’s symptoms reappeared in a few weeks.

Zinc and iron are involved in dopamine production, so deficiencies in these minerals could impact dopamine neurotransmission. For example a great number of kids with ADHD are Iron deficient and the severity of the iron deficiency is related to the severity of symptoms.

Adequate sleep quantity and quality are important for brain health and performance. Improving sleep has shown reduce symptoms of attention disorder. Sleep is also known to modulate the immune response.

Physical activity or exercise may have a positive impact on cognitive health in both adults and children. Studies on individuals with ADHD suggest frequent aerobic exercise significantly decrease in impulsive symptoms and anxiety. Another study showed that cognitive symptoms in children with ADHD were improved after just twenty minutes of moderate exercise.

Lifestyle factors to keep fit and healthy during school:

Physical activity helps prevent childhood obesity, it improves muscle growth, brain health and development. Nowadays, easy access to technology and smart devices although helps to improve learning , prevents kids from being active. Research suggest that the childhood obesity should be considered an independent risk factor for adult obesity, and metabolic disorders.

Positive eating behaviours helps to prevent emotional eating. It is important to know that food should not be used as reward. Children's diet should include verity of healthy foods, fresh vegetables, proteins, whole grain, nuts, fresh fruits, diary, and dairy alternatives.

Related articles:

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