How to strengthen your child’s immune system naturally
Most parents know that winter equals germs. Germs equal sick kids, and we all hate having sick kids. I am not pretending to say that nutrition will prevent your kids from becoming sick but proper nutrition will help boost your kids immune system helping them become sick less often and when they do become sick then they are able to get over the illness quicker and more efficiently without many complications.
Unfortunately a large percentage of children are required to take frequent and prolonged courses of chemical antibiotics, which in the long term, weakens the immune system and exacerbate allergies. The antibiotics work for several weeks only, and then another virus or allergy comes along to attack the immune system of your child. You feel helpless, confused and continually worried about the next infection that will surely come along.
So what can we do to boost our children’s immune system?
- When it comes to immune boosting, antioxidants are your main allies. They protect the bodies immune cells form damage. ACE are the most familiar antioxidants. Vitamin A helps keep the mucus membranes healthy- stopping germs from getting into the lungs and digestive system. Vitamin A can be found in orange and yellow fruit and veg. Vitamin C can’t prevent or cure a cold but can help reduce the severity. Vitamin E fights the free radical molecules in the body. Other nutrients famous for immune boosting include vitamin D. Studies show that if you are deficient in vitamin D you are more likely to catch a cold. You can get vitamin D from sunlight, oily fish milk and egg yolk. Zinc and selenium are also great in immune boosting and can be found in: red meat, poultry, lentils and beans, nuts, seafood, whole grains is where you can find zinc. Brazil nuts, tuna, beef is where you can find selenium.
- Rest. Get your kids to sleep more and earlier. Many family’s I talk to let the kids stay up after 8pm. Kids need between 11-12 hours sleep a day, so make sure lights are dim by 7pm and encourage the kids to sleep early.
- Get your kids moving. Generation i are all about computers, ipads, iphones and TV’s. Exercise gets our circulation moving; exercise enables toxins to leave the body through flowing lymph and sweat. Indoor exercise is great especially when it’s cold, but it’s also important to get outside in the fleeting hours of sunlight whenever possible.
- Choose unprocessed whole foods, making sure they are local, organic and seasonal whenever possible. For example farmers markets which sell fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables. There are also companies that home deliver fresh organic produce. Everything can be done online and its super easy. Avoid white foods (flour, rice, potatoes and sugar) and opt for the whole grains, packaged foods, “quick” cooking methods like microwaves, and anything artificial! Try to eat real foods meaning if it has more than five ingredients, it’s probably too processed and full of junk.
- Sugar. Sugar has been shown to decrease the ability of white bloods cells to engulf and destroy bacteria, leading to depressed immunity. So save the sweets for special occasions and pull out the healthy snacks instead.
- Eat warming foods and spices. Cold and raw foods are full of enzymes, vitamins and minerals. But during the colder winter months, it’s best to consume mostly cooked, steamed, broiled (i.e. warm) foods and liquids. No ice cream, ice cubes or leftovers from the refrigerator. Use spices that are warming as well, such as cinnamon, nutmeg, turmeric, cumin, fennel and ginger. They are also anti-inflammatory, which is crucial for all systems in the body. Adding these spices to your dishes will boost immune building properties of fruits, vegetables and grains.
- Breast feed your baby- studies have shown that breasted babies have higher immunity than babies that were not breastfed.
- Hygiene: Make sure to wash hands all the time and throw the tooth brush away after the child has been sick to prevent re contamination.
- Immune system enemies: stress, pollution, cigarette smoke, pesticides, to little exercise, obesity and poor nutrition.
What to do when you are already sick:
- Try my immune booster tea: juice of 1 lemon, 1 teaspoon of finely chopped or grated fresh ginger, 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder, 1 cinnamon stick or 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and 2 teaspoons of Manuka honey. For the brave add 2 cloves of crushed garlic. Add boiling water and allow to rest for 10 min. Rug up, stay warm and enjoy this brew. It will encourage a mild fever and sweating. Fever is one of the bodies best defenses against infection.
- Rest as much as possible
- Take a hot bath- to encourage sweating
- Chicken soup is one of the best remedies
- Add garlic/onion/turmeric/ginger to all your cooking
- Supplement with ACE + selenium + zinc
- Reduce sugar intake, processed foods to zero- they feed the bacteria
- Drink plenty of water
Looking for Kid friendly healthy, nourishing, easy and practical recipes? Check out Karin’s 2 E-books:
Have a healthy & nutritious week,