Nitric Oxide (NO) is a simple molecule consisting of one atom of nitrogen and one of oxygen, making it even simpler than water. Research into the effects of this small but important molecule began in the 1970’s when scientists started to examine why blood vessels relaxed when certain compounds were added. In 1998, 20-some years after this research first began, a Nobel Prize was awarded to these researchers for their breakthrough discoveries regarding NO. Over the last two decades NO research has continued to grow, and there has been an exponential increase in the number of publications on this fascinating
After the relaxing fun of summer, back-to-school season is here again. Although every school year offers its share of gratification, it’s typically also a balancing act, for both parents and kids. Trying to juggle a busy schedule and the many demands of parenting while keeping the kids healthy and ready to learn can be a challenge. For kids, the return to bedtime and homework routines and new academic and social challenges can result in increased stress, which may lead to weakened immunity. These factors, combined with the increased exposure to flu bugs and other infections, can spell sick days for the whole family if we aren’t careful.
Stacking the Odds
There are some natural and straightforward ways to ensure your family’s immune system is up to the test of the school year. Practicing frequent hand-washing, making time for nutritious family meals, cutting down on sugar, limiting screen time before bed, and making sure kids get to unwind in healthy ways (like exercise) can all contribute to healthy immune systems.
There are also some clinically proven nutrients, vitamins and natural formulations that can give the whole family added support for healthy immune function. Consider adding these to your back-to-school list this year.
Let the sunshine (vitamin) in
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient, known for its role in aiding with calcium absorption and promoting healthy bone formation, but also in balancing immune function and supporting mood. During our long, dark winters, it’s easy to become deficient in the “Sunshine Vitamin”. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to numerous health conditions, including frequent infections, so everyone needs to get enough. Vitamin D3 is the most effective source of vitamin D.
Probiotics, fiber and immune function
A healthy gut not only controls digestion; it also supports your immune system. Probiotics help to re-establish and support healthy bacterial microflora in the intestines. And, despite the hype, more strains aren’t always better when it comes to the effectiveness of probiotics. Clinical studies have shown wide-ranging health benefits, including improved immune function, allergy reduction, and even enhanced detoxification.
Part of a healthy gut involves staying regular. Children often suffer from stress-related constipation and doctors say that it can lead to abdominal pain, appetite suppression and other problems if not addressed. A prebiotic fiber that selectively promotes the growth of only beneficial microflora while inhibiting the growth of harmful bacteria may be helpful in promoting regularity. These beneficial strains also lower the pH of the intestines, making it an inhospitable environment for harmful bacteria to live. Improved gut microflora has benefits for digestive, cardiovascular, and overall health, especially in improving occasional gastrointestinal issues that may arise from a stomach bug.
Magnesium is involved in over 300 different processes in the body, so it can indirectly affect our resistance to illness. For example, we now know how important sleep is to overall health no matter what your age. Those who don’t get enough quality sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to viruses such as colds; they also recover more slowly. Magnesium may assist, as its relaxing effects include reducing blood pressure and increasing the neurotransmitter GABA, thereby improving sleep quality.
Other benefits of magnesium include improved energy production, nutrient metabolism and muscle function. It’s also involved in the production of feel-good neurotransmitters such as serotonin. Magnesium is an excellent option for those sports-oriented families with teenagers (or parents) looking for energy or muscle support.
This year, there’s no reason not to start school feeling healthy, rested, and strong – with a little immune system support the whole family can benefit from.