Are there any natural ways to boost a teenage immunity when they suffer from severe asthma? She doesn't let asthma stop her but it can hinder on her activities and with being a cheerleader this can be inconvenient.

This is a great question, and one I frequently get. Many people want to naturally boost their immune system as to avoid getting sick. And I understand your desire to help your daughter continue to be as active as possible. There is no one thing that will specifically “boost” the immune system. The immune system is quite a lovely, yet complicated, thing. Harvard Health Publications reports that “attempting to boost the cells of your immune system is especially complicated because there are so many different kinds of cells in the immune system that respond to so many different microbes in so many ways.” Many products on store shelves claim to boost or support immunity but no one thing or product will be successful at doing this.

Your daughter’s immune system can be naturally strengthened by following a healthy diet and making good lifestyle choices. First, be sure that your daughter is getting enough sleep. She will need around 7-8 hours of sleep daily. Inadequate sleep can lead to an increased susceptibility to catching a cold or getting the flu. Next, encourage her to wash her hands thoroughly and often. The first line of defense is to keep germs at bay by following good personal hygiene habits. This helps to stop infection before it begins and avoid spreading it to others with these easy measures. Another way to naturally boost the immune system is exercise. You mentioned that your daughter is involved in cheer-leading, which is wonderful. Continue to encourage your daughter to be as active as possible, but be sure to help her balance activity and rest.

Your daughter’s diet is an important factor in helping keep her immune system strong. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics states, “good nutrition is essential to a strong immune system.” Naturally occurring vitamins and minerals found in whole foods can certainly help build healthy immunity. Remember that supplements are not the same as whole foods. Though research has found that deficiencies in certain vitamins and minerals, such as vitamins A, D, C, and E, zinc, and selenium, may increase the risk for infection, consumption or supplementation beyond the body’s need has not been shown to further immune function. Diets that are filled with foods containing added sugar, trans fat, and sodium can negatively impact the immune system. Now, I realize that your daughter may be a teenager. If I am honest, the majority of the food I consumed in my teens was definitely not on the healthy side. I would recommend that you not necessarily restrict your daughter’s diet, but instead keep a wide variety of healthy fruits and vegetables around your house and encourage their intake (lead by example). I would recommend not buying soda or sugar filled beverages and encourage her to drink primarily water or 100% fruit juice (which Old Orchard has a great assortment of!) or milk etc. Keep a variety of healthy snacks around your house. Hummus and carrot sticks, air popped popcorn, fresh fruit, cheese sticks, trail mix can be much better than potato chips, candy bars, nacho chips, and desserts.

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