12 immunity boosting tips
When the winter bug season hits, or an random flu pandemic, you want your little one to be fighting fit. Here are 12 tips to getting your childs (and the rest of the familys) immune system in great shape so you can all spend more time enjoying life than struggling to cope with continuous minor illnesses, and even some of the major ones.
- Boost with Berries
All fruit is good for keeping good health and providing essential immunity boosting nutrients, but berries in particular have some very special properties (see A to Z of super foods). And they’re at they’re best at the end of summer, perfect timing for berry boosting your childs health in preparation for winter.
- Plenty of exercise and fresh air
Getting regular exercise for kids is important on so many levels. It makes them sleep better, eat better, keeps them fit in body and mind and therefore stronger to fight off the bugs when they come calling.
- Increase vitamin C intake
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxident which boosts immunity and promotes healing power in the body. Citrus fruits are a great source of vitamin C, as are berries (strawberries and raspberries particularly) broccoli, tomatoes, kiwi fruit, spinach and watermelon.
- Vital vegetables
A no brainer really. Vegetables contain a multitude of nutrients vital for a healthy immune system. However they tend not to be that favoured by young children. Cook up some delicious soups and hidden veg pasta sauces to get those great nutrients into your little one. The best immune boosting veggies include onions, leeks, broccoli, spinach, cabbage and sweetcorn, but any that your child will eat are good!
Probiotics replenish the good bacteria in our gut which are essential for good digestive health, including the control of Candida and other yeast which can have adverse effects on the immune system if allowed to get out of control. The good bacteria also increases gut immunity, helping to fight of infection. To plenty of live yogurt will help, but you can also get child formulated probiotic powders. And if your child does succumb to an infection that requires antibiotics, it’s even more important to replenish the good bacteria which tends to get killed off by antibiotics.
Zinc is an incredibly important and often overlooked mineral, particularly for our children. It not only strengthens the immune system, but it also helps our children grow and develop. Boost up your child’s zinc intake now and you may find they not only have less colds but also have better concentration and an increase in their mental and physical development. Eggs and red meat are good sources of zinc, as are whole grains and soybeans.
- Lots of liquid
Many kids don’t drink nearly enough water. Or liquid of any kind for that matter. We all need liquid not only to keep our bodies hydrated therefore keeping it energised, but it’s the key component for delivering nutrients to all our bodies cells, and washing away waste. Children don’t need to drink 8 glasses a day, but a good amount of liquid will keep the toxins to a minimum and keep their bodies working as they should, and in a better state for fighting off viruses and bugs.
- Sweet dreams
Perhaps an obvious one but if you have a little one who isn’t the best sleeper, and perhaps got used to going to bed later over the summer, now is a good time to get them into a good sleep routine. When we sleep deeply our body has time to rest whilst releasing potent immune enhancing chemicals that boost immune function.
Probably the most immune-enhancing food created by nature. It has a wider antibiotic spectrum than penicillin, inhibits many virus’s and could help prevent cancer. It’s a force against the common cold virus and flu and if you start adding it to absolutely everything now, your little one may be a little smelly but it’ll definitely keep some of those bugs away.
Amino acids that are pound in protein form the building blocks of the cells that form the immune system (and all other cell in the body for that matter). The way the immune system fights germs is by increasing their numbers, and inorder to do this, it needs protein. So to help your child’s immunity cells reproduce, feed them some of these good sources of protein: chicken, fish, eggs, lentil and beans.
- Helpful herbs and spices
There are a number of herbs and spices that, like garlic, enhance and boost the body’s immunities. Rosemary, oregano and parsley have strong antioxidant properties and are delicious everyday herbs to add to all sorts of dishes. And the spice turmeric has been found recently to be particularly powerful. And if your child does get sick, there are a number of herbs and spices that can help make them feel better. See our Healthy herbs and super spices article for more information on these.
- Less sugar
Many studies have shown that sugar suppresses the immune system. Just consuming 25grams of refined sugar can knock your immune system down for up to 5 hours. If in that time you come into contact with germs or bacteria, your body will have much less resistance. And the effect is much more noticeable in children. Most sugar should be kept to a minimum, but it’s worth being extra careful during the winter bug season if you want your kids to keep their resistance high. (NB Fructose in fruit also has a suppressive effect on the immune system initially, but the long term benefits of the fruits nutritional compounds out-way the temporary negative effect)
And don’t forget, washing hands before meals and when coming in from outside is an easy way of keeping the bigs at bay.