Top tips for a tip-top immune system

Now more than ever it is important to know how to take care of our kids’ immune systems as they head back to school and start mixing with other people. In this newsletter, I hope to inspire you to make some positive lifestyle changes and top tips on the types of food and supplements which may help you along your way.

I hope you’ve all had a good summer and are looking forward to getting the kids back to school. I’m grateful that we are back to in-person learning and that children can enjoy socialising and being out and about again. Laughter, joy and play are also very important for our immune systems!

Many parents worry about their kids going back to school in the best of times as they know that mixing with other kids also means mixing with other germs and this can mean picking up colds and other bugs. This worry has of course increased with the recent pandemic.

I want to reassure you that getting viruses and other infections is a normal part of life and most children are at no risk of serious complications. Our immune system is a complicated and amazing system that protects our bodies from outside threats. It relies on certain things to keep it in tip-top condition and in this newsletter I share the ones I think are most important.

Here’s hoping you have a happy back to school and the kids settle in well. As always, please consult your doctor right away if you are at all concerned about your child’s health.


1. Increase sleep

With a change in routine, many children will have their sleep pattern disrupted. Studies have shown that sleep has a strong influence on immune functions. Here are some things to consider when optimising your child’s sleep.

  • Reduce blue light emitted from computers and mobile devices, especially in the few hours before bedtime
  • Have a 20 to 30-minute soak in a bath with Epsom salts
  • Consider foods like Montmorency cherry juice, which helps promote melatonin and has been shown to enhance sleep quality.
  • Consider supplements that contain l-theanine, 5-HTP, B6, magnetism, zinc and vitamin C as they have all been shown to help make melatonin as well.
  • Finally, make sure your child’s iron levels are normal. Many children with ASD have low iron levels which can contribute significantly to poor sleep. When checking the iron level with your GP make sure you ask for the level of ferritin which is the storage tank of iron and a more accurate marker of iron status.


2. Decrease stress
Children are like sponges and can absorb stress in their environment, including our own stress (which is a good reason to support your own wellbeing!). Children with ASD are particularly vulnerable as they have to struggle with many sensory triggers throughout the day creating repeated “fight or flight” response. When this stress response becomes chronic, it can have a significant impact on the immune system. Be mindful of negative news and the impact it might be having on your child and minimise exposure as much as possible. Make time for playing and getting outdoors as much as possible – time in nature has been shown to reduce the level of stress hormones significantly.


3. Invest in real food
Back to school can mean packed lunches and the often-needed after school snack. Stay away from convenience foods as they are highly-processed and often loaded with sugar. Too much sugar has a big impact on our immune systems. Choose instead from dried fruit, home-made smoothies, oatcakes with dips like hummus and guacamole, nuts and seeds, fruit leathers and home-made biscuits loaded with flaxseeds and healthy fats and natural sugars like dates and honey. On our website, you will find close to 100 recipes to entice you. Yes, it often means an increase in time and food budget, but absolutely worth the investment in our kids’ health!


4. Gut health
A healthy gut is fundamental in achieving a healthy immune system as close to 80% of our immune system is in our gut. We want to make sure we support a diverse microbiome and reduce inflammation. You can do this by avoiding foods that might be triggering inflammation in the gut – common culprits are refined sugar, gluten, dairy, processed corn, and soya. Make sure you also include some form of probiotic food or supplement in your plan. Choose from yoghurt (dairy-based if you can tolerate it or non-dairy such as coconut and almond yoghurt if you can’t), kefir, kombucha, apple cider vinegar, sauerkraut, and miso. Our food of the week below is probiotic beet kvass with a link to our recipe. Include pulses and beans as recent studies have shown they feed the ‘good bacteria’ and increase the overall diversity. Commercial probiotics can also be used and there are lots of varieties out there. One of our favourites is the more cutting edge spore-based probiotic like Megaspore by Microbiome Labs which seems to have very few side effects – we’ve added a link in our supplement of the week below.


5. Key vitamins and minerals
You can read details on each in the article I linked to previously, but very quickly, here are the key nutrients our immune system relies on to function.

  • Vitamin D
  • Zinc
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin A 
  • Selenium


Other important nutrients for the immune system, specifically against viruses like COVID-19 include B vitamins (especially folate), glutathione, milk thistle, chondroitin sulphate, and Andrographis.

Please make sure that you always work with your medical doctor or a Registered Nutritional Therapist when using supplements.

Food of the week: Beet kvass

Beet kvass is fermented beetroot juice loaded with probiotics and immune and neurological supportive nutrients. Traditionally, beet kvass has been used to support immune function, cleanse the blood, combat fatigue and chemical sensitivities, allergies and digestive problems, and is especially good for those suffering from constipation or sluggish liver. Beet kvass tastes slightly salty and tangy and has a little fizz to it. This is a very powerful drink, high in probiotics, so treat it with respect. Start with a tablespoon and build it up slowly to a cup or more a day. For more information and the full recipe visit our recipe blog here. 


Supplement of the week: Probiotics

As mentioned above, the right amount of probiotics in our gut is important for good immune health. If one needs to supplement, here are two of our favourites: Custom Probiotic D-lactate Free is good for even the most sensitive kids. Even though it’s expensive, it lasts a long time as you only need a pinch to start with. We also like Nutri Advanced Ultra Probioplex ND which is a slightly different blend if you want a more affordable option.


Please only introduce new foods or supplements under the guidance of your healthcare practitioner and remember dose is important! We always recommend that people start with a very small dose and work up. Supplements are not meant to be used long term. These are general recommendations only and not intended to diagnose or treat any health issues. If you are already a patient of ours, feel free to ask your practitioner if these are suitable and don’t forget to use the discount codes listed below.

Buying supplements from our trusted suppliers

We recommend our patients buy supplements from the below suppliers. Note any supplement mentioned in the above article is for educational purposes only. You should only try new supplements with your child with the approval of your healthcare practitioner. If you have already gotten approval, please feel free to make use of the exclusive Brainstorm Health® discount codes we have negotiated with our suppliers. Some suppliers support Brainstorm Health® with a small commission which we reinvest into creating quality content like this newsletter to give as much free support to our community as possible.

The Natural Dispensary
Discount Code: SMC010

Discount Code: IA12LW

Your Health Basket
Discount Code: Brainstorm10

If you’d like to become a new patient please follow this link to book a free discovery call to assess your needs.