Helping teens take care of their health will help them become independent adults. In their own way, teens are under as much pressure as adults. Their bodies are changing and growing, using nutrients quickly. They have pressure to perform in school and sports. Teens are also dealing with social stresses. These all combine to tax a teen’s immune system. Parents can help their teens protect their health by encouraging habits that foster a strong immune system.
Have your teen eat a healthful diet. Ensure that your teen gets plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Use whole rather than processed grain. Serve lean meats and keep the child’s diet low in saturated fats.
Get adequate sleep. According to the Mayo Clinic, teens need about nine hours of sleep every night. However, their brains are changing and this shifts the young person’s internal clock. Many teens tend to stay up later and want to sleep later in the morning. This often isn’t possible with early morning school or weekend jobs. Helping your teen establish sound sleep habits not only boosts his immune system, but it also helps to prevent drowsy driving.
Take supplements. Even with the best diet, many teens don’t get everything they need from food. According to AskDrSears.com, vitamins C and E, and bioflavonoid, selenium, zinc and carotenoids, all boost the immune system to fight infection. While vitamin C is as easy to consume as an orange, others can be harder. Consider giving your teen a good multivitamin. Other supplements to consider are omega-3 fatty acids such as those found in fish and castor oil and garlic.
Exercise daily. Exercise helps the cardiovascular system, which nourishes the rest of the body. According to Harvard Medical School, moderate exercise supports the healthy development of every cell in the immune system.
Teach your teen how to handle stress. While short-term stresses do little to affect the immune system, long-term or chronic stress increases cortisol. While human studies are still pending, Harvard Medical School has studied the increase of cortisol in mice and found that the hormone suppresses the production of T-cells, a major component of a healthy immune system.
Tips & Warnings
- Take your teen to yearly scheduled health checks. Your family doctor can discuss healthful habits with your teen.
- Encourage everyone in the family to use healthful habits, including frequent hand-washing, to prevent infection.
- Always discuss any vitamin or herbal supplement use with your pediatrician.
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