Keep your child healthy this winter
By Louise Baker BHSc (Nut Med)
It is not uncommon for children to experience colds, chest infections and stomach bugs. This is because they are regularly exposed to germs at day care from other children and are more likely to put their dirty hands and germ-covered objects in their mouths. Their immune systems are still developing at this stage and they are less equipped with immune power to ward off those nasty bugs. Whilst it is impossible to shield our little ones from coming into contact with germs, there’s a lot that we can do to build up their immune systems, to give them the best possible chance of staying healthy.
Start by making adjustments to your child’s diet. You may think you are doing them a favour by giving them fast food, ice cream, lollies, chips and other treats. The reality of the situation is, that these foods are highly processed and full of sugar, additives, preservatives and bad fats that will not do your child’s immune system or their overall health any favours. Did you know that sugar can actually suppress the immune system and feed the growth of bacteria? Regular intake of these foods can result in a diet that is nutrient deficient, and a child that has a poor immune system.
So, what should you be feeding your child? An abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables, healthy fats and good quality proteins. You might think that this is easier said than done, but in reality, you can make healthy food fun and delicious and your children will look forward to eating it. Cut up fruit and vegetables into little sticks, make smoothie popsicles, fresh juices, prepare nourishing soups and stews, mini frittatas. Get creative and make little food faces, and get your children involved! Let them help you make their food and they will be more motivated to eat them.
There are vitamins and minerals that are essential for supporting and maintaining a healthy immune system. Everyone knows that vitamin C is an amazing nutrient for protecting the immune system, and is readily available in citrus fruit, berries, kiwi, tomato and capsicum. Juice these up for your little one to give them a vitamin C boost! Additional to vitamin C, there are other nutrients that are vital to the immune system. These include vitamins A, E and D and minerals selenium, zinc and iodine. These nutrients help to support and strengthen the immune system, help to maintain a healthy respiratory and digestive system and increase the resistance against bacterial and viral infections.
The following foods can be integrated into your child’s diet to boost their immune system:
- Vitamin A foods: Apricots, egg, cheese, liver, pumpkin, spinach, sweet potatoes, carrots.
- Vitamin E foods: Sunflower seeds, almonds, egg, beef, corn, wheat germ.
- Vitamin D foods: Egg, fish, sprouted seeds and sunlight.
- Selenium foods: Brazil nuts, fish, turkey, beef, egg, cottage cheese, oats.
- Zinc foods: Seafood, yoghurt, cashews, beans, beef, almonds.
- Iodine foods: Seaweed, fish, yoghurt, egg, prunes.
The good bacteria in your child’s tummy also help to protect against invading bad bacteria. Integrating fermented foods will help to improve the good bacteria in the gut, and strengthen the immune system. Yoghurt, miso soup and sauerkraut are great probiotic-rich foods that you could integrate into your child’s diet. Also make sure that you keep up their fluid intake, and that they are getting plenty of rest.
Give your little ones the immune strength they need to stay healthy this winter!