4 Immune Boosting Tips for Back-to-School Season

A girl does school work in a classroom.
Back to school time can bring illnesses to families. (Image credit: <a href='http://www.shutterstock.com/pic.mhtml?id=83691805&src=id'>Back to school photo</a> via Shutterstock)

Strep throat, double ear infections and yet another nasty stomach bug. Is it biological warfare, or just another back-to-school season?

Parents of young children know this scenario all too well, but this is a problem that affects many others too. Teachers, parents of teenagers and anyone attending classes themselves have to worry about those dreaded back-to-school germs.

If it hasn't hit your family yet, now is the perfect time to prepare. If it has, well, now is a good time to prepare for the next virus that's going around. Here are four immune-boosting tips that may give your family a better shot at sidestepping the sickness. [Top 7 Germs in Food that Make You Sick]

1. Review hygiene basics. Kids are sometimes in such a rush to play that they forget to wash their hands. Now is a good time to remind them of the importance of washing up before meals, and after every trip to the bathroom. Just be sure that they aren't overdoing it, though, or it may have a negative effect on their immunity.

2. Add blueberries to your morning cereal. Yes, it's a simple thing to do, but it can make a huge difference. Let us not underestimate the antioxidant power of this little berry. In fact, blueberries rate a higher ORAC score (a measure of antioxidant capacity) than most fruits and veggies.

3. Reduce refined carbohydratess and sugars. When it comes to boosting your body's natural immunity, avoiding the negative is about as important as adding the positive. Refined carbs and sugars feed the bad bacteria in the gut and contribute to inflammation. Refined carbs and sugars include foods such as pasta, bread, cakes and candy, as well as soda.

4. Get more exercise. Encourage your kids to get on a sports team right away. If that doesn't work (or isn't his or her cup of tea), be sure that they are setting aside time to actively play each and every day. How does this help? Well, many studies suggest that exercise boosts immunity. For example, a 2012 study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that the more physically fit you are, the less likely you are to suffer from colds in the winter months.

Healthy Bites appears weekly on LiveScience. Deborah Herlax Enos is a certified nutritionist and a health coach and weight loss expert in the Seattle area with more than 20 years of experience. Read more tips on her blog, Health in a Hurry!

Deborah Enos
Deborah Enos, CN, also known as "The One-Minute Wellness Coach," is The Health Coach for busy, working people. She pares her good-health messages down to simple and fast bullet points that can impact lives in 60 seconds or less. Deborah serves as a board member of the American Heart Association.  In addition to writing the Healthy Bites column for Live Science, Deborah is a regular on FOX Business News, NBC and ABC, and is a frequent contributor to The Costco Connection, Parade Magazine, Self Magazine, Good Housekeeping and USA Today. Deborah is also The One Minute Wellness Coach for The Doctors TV Show.