Winter is here, which also means cold and flu season is in full swing. But are the two related? Can kids actually “catch a cold” from being outside?
It turns out there actually is a reason that kids get sicker in winter, at least when it comes to the flu. Studies show that the flu virus is more stable and able to linger in the air longer in colder, drier climates – which is why we don’t typically see a “flu season” in humid, tropical areas. However, in New England, where the air becomes extremely dry in winter, it’s easier to transmit the flu.
But this doesn’t mean you should keep your kids indoors. The extra oxygen and increase in activity kids get from being outside can actually boost their immune system, according to Ather Ali, ND, MPH, assistant director of Complementary/Alternative Medicine Research at Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center.
So what else can you do to keep your kids healthy this winter? Here are a few tips:
- Wash hands often
Ok so this seems totally obvious – but it really is the key to staying healthy (and sane!). While you may need stronger antibacterial washes for cleaning surfaces that may have been contaminated with the flu or other viruses, you don’t need antibacterial soap on your hands. Stick to good old soap and water, and encourage the kids to keep their hands away from their face.
- Get enough sleep
Easier said than done for parents, we know! But when the body becomes sleep deprived the immune system suffers. Extra sleep can be both a preventative measure, as well as way to get better faster. Stick to early bedtimes, and ensure school age children are getting at least 10-11 hours of sleep a night – more for toddlers!
- Increase Vitamin D consumption
Research shows that Vitamin D may actually help to prevent colds and lessen their severity. Unfortunately, our Vitamin D absorption tends to go down in winter due to less sunlight. You can make up for by increasing your consumption of Vitamin D rich foods, like Oakhurst milk!
- Drink plenty of water
There are so many benefits of staying hydrated – first and foremost being the health of your bodies’ cells and tissues. Drinking water can also increase your metabolism, help regulate your temperature and boost your immune system.
The bottom line is that kids will be kids and they WILL get sick, but keeping up on preventative measures is a good way to limit their days home from school (and your days out of work!).
Do you have any special remedies or tips for preventing sickness in winter? Share them with us on Facebook!