By, Dr. Carolyn McClain, Medical Director of The Urgency Room
Getting sick and missing school is hard when you’re a teenager. You miss important class information, quizzes, exams and more! Then, just when you finally feel better and ready to go back to school, all the make-up work is enough to give you a stomach ache!
There are things you can do to help your body fight off all the colds, coughs and other infectious invaders that make you feel “too icky” to go to class. It’s as easy as 1, 2 3 when it comes to staying healthy in this season of sickness:
#1. Keep Sleep Sacred
That means turning off Snaphat, Instagram and all those alerts on your phone. Set a time at night to silence your phone or go a step further and put it in airplane mode. You’ll still get your alarm in the morning, but you’ll also protect your sleep.
Teens generally need more sleep than adults and younger children, according to the National Sleep Foundation, with the average teenager requiring more than nine hours each night for optimal health. Do you get nine hours a night? How can you better protect your sleep? Lack of sleep stresses the body and can weaken the immune system. Enforce your bedtime and definitely get extra sleep on the weekends to shrink your sleep deficit.
#2. Consider What You Eat
It’s pretty simple. At your age, you need a well-balanced diet that includes plenty of lean protein sources, low-fat dairy foods, whole grain breads and fresh fruits and vegetables. Teens require a higher intake of calcium and iron than most people of other age groups. Don’t forget sources of healthy fats, such as nuts, fish and avocado.
Other immune boosting foods include onions, garlic, berries, mushrooms and beans. Don’t forget yogurt with live active cultures to help support intestinal health. Just be sure to steer clear of yogurt loaded with sugar.
Finally, next time you go to the doctor, ask about supplements. Even if you eat healthy, you may still have a vitamin or mineral deficiency. Vitamin C supplement can be really useful. It is famous for supporting the immune system, and is particularly important for the respiratory system where colds and flus tend to hit. Vitamin D is particularly difficult to come across in the winter, as it requires sunlight to be synthesized. You can get a supplement of both from your local health food store, which contains both vitamin D and zinc, as well as magnesium, potassium and calcium. This combination is also great for boosting your energy.
Dancing, swimming, running, volleyball, soccer….
It doesn’t matter the activity, as long as you stay active. Stay active reduces stress and strengthens the immune system since it boosts circulation, allowing immune cells to scour the body for infection.
We often tell adults working in offices to get up and move around every hour or so – but teenagers usually already do this when they switch classes roughly every hour. Keep this rhythm going by aiming for an additonal 30 minutes of rigorous exercise a day.