Most kids are excited about the prospect of going back to school–new clothes, new books, new supplies, –an opportunity to reconnect with classmates. But going back to school also means increased exposure to germs. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) states that nearly 22 million school days are lost each year due to the common cold, flu and other infections.
And, unfortunately, as nationwide budget cuts increase, larger class sizes, shorter school years and fewer staff, including janitorial services means a less clean classroom.
When preparing children for going back to school, learning about germ prevention and healthy habits are just as important as reading, writing and arithmetic.
Did you know that schools are a breeding ground for germs and that some viruses and bacteria can live between 20 minutes up to two hours on surfaces like cafeteria tables, doorknobs, and desks? Yuck!
Germ management begins with good hygiene and good eating habits. There are two effective strategies for reducing colds and flu: 1) reduce excess exposure to harmful germs and 2) improve the immune system.
Here’s a few germ management tips:
1. The CDC states that hand washing can reduce the risk of illness by an amazing 50%. Teach children to always wash their hands:
- After using the restroom
- Before touching food
- After sneezing or coughing into the hands
- After using a tissue to blow the nose
Hand washing is the best way to reduce the spreading of disease. Additionally, a number of other practices could reduce the spread of germs:
- Avoid sharing food or eating utensils.
- Wash hands often and properly, especially after toileting and blowing the nose.
- Cover the mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
- If a tissue is not available, cough or sneeze into your elbow or shoulder. Avoiding the hands reduces the chance of spreading the germs.
Clean all surfaces with bleach (1 part bleach to 10 parts water).
2. Improve health by creating a strong foundation. With school starting, it also means more structure in the day. Eating healthy food at routine times during the day, getting restorative sleep (no disruptions), and regular physical activity all help to optimize the immune system.
Mushrooms to the rescue!
Hokto mushrooms can contribute in terms of beneficial nutrients, especially those found to help the body fight infection. Mushrooms uniquely provide a natural source of vitamin D and are the only “plant” to make that claim. Similar to the way that humans absorb sunlight and convert it to vitamin D, mushrooms contain a plant sterol—ergosterol—that converts to vitamin D2 when exposed to ultraviolet light. Emerging research identifies vitamin D in playing a key role in immune function.
A notable source of B vitamins, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium and selenium, mushrooms also provide a significant source of fiber, with a 3 full grams in a typical 3.5 ounce serving.
Anti-oxidants help to support the immune system and are also found in mushrooms. Minerals such as selenium, can act as an antioxidant and help protect body cells from damaging free radicals (unstable molecules).
As students ease into the routine of attending class, make eating healthy and hand washing a priority to keep germs at bay. Check out some of the great recipes located on the web site to help you get started!