How to Boost the Immune System in Teenagers

By Tiffany Raiford
A healthy, colorful diet can help build your teen's immunity.
A healthy, colorful diet can help build your teen's immunity.

Your teenager’s immune system acts as a defensive guard against illness and infection, like an internal army that attacks and fights off enemy germs. Because germs are everywhere from the laces on your teen’s shoes to the door knob of every classroom she enters, a strong immune system is necessary to keep her healthy. While your teen’s immune system usually does a stellar job fighting off illness, sometimes it loses a battle and your teen comes down with the cold or flu.

Have your teen go to bed at a decent time each night. According to Dr. Rob Danoff, a family physician and director of the Family Practice Residency and Family Practice/Emergency Medicine Residency at Frankford Hospitals in Philadelphia, not getting enough sleep can stress your teenager’s body. The stress of not getting enough sleep can weaken his immune system, making him more susceptible to illness. According to Kids Health, the proper amount of sleep for your teen is between 8 1/2 and nine hours per night.

Encourage your teen to get plenty of exercise. According to Dr. Bruce Polsky, interim chairman in the department of medicine and chief division of infectious disease at New York City’s St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital, only 20 minutes of exercise three times a week is enough to increase the function of your teen’s immune system. Your teen can join a sports team, take up jogging, go for a walk, swim, ride her bike or even take a dance class to help improve the functionality of her immune system.

Help your teen reduce his stress level as a way of building his immune system, advises Danoff. When stress gets out of hand, it can cause the immune system to weaken, which can leave your teen at increased risk for contracting illnesses. Encourage your teen to learn relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation and deep breathing, to find an enjoyable hobby or to talk about his feelings as a way of managing his stress level.

Feed your teen a diet rich in antioxidant vitamins such as fruits and vegetables. A healthy diet can help boost your teen’s immune system. According to Dr. Stephen Sinatra, certified nutrition specialist and assistant clinical professor of medicine at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, your teen needs to avoid sugar, especially when her immune system is not functioning properly such as in the midst of a cold or the flu. A colorful diet can help boost your teen’s immune system the most.

About the Author

Tiffany Raiford has several years of experience writing freelance. Her writing focuses primarily on articles relating to parenting, pregnancy and travel. Raiford is a graduate of Saint Petersburg College in Florida.