It is inevitable, even important to some degree, that kids get sick every now and then. However if your child seems to pick up one thing after another, there are some easy, safe natural remedies and dietary inclusions that may improve your child’s immunity, particularly in the coming Winter months.
As with everything, the strength of a child’s immunity is multi factorial. Diet, family history, environmental exposure, germy siblings climbing on them (!), day care, school and just general day to day activities that kids partake in, expose them to a myriad of bugs and germs on a minute to minute basis. Our inherent immune systems mount an attack against anything perceived as foreign, and in most cases, ward off or at least minimize symptoms that are elicited as a result of various tummy and respiratory infections. Interestingly conditions like eczema, allergies and hay fever are all signs of an overloaded, impaired immune system.
Not only do recurrent infections and allergies affect your cherub’s energy and immunity, but can also affect mood, sleep and growth. To a greater extent, kids miss more kinder/school and mum and dad may have to miss work.
Firstly, look after your children’s gut. 80% of our immune function comes from our gut. Meaning that poor diet and low levels of good bacteria, has a huge impact of our immunity. Single or repeated antibiotic use can kill off our good bacteria. Probitics can be a fabulous daily addition to your children’s diet. Bifidobacterium, a strain of good bacteria, has been clinically proven to reduce the frequency and severity of colds and reduce absent days from school or child care.
Some other super bug fighting nutrients include Cod Liver oil (I bet our grandmothers are all saying “I told you so!) both excellent sources of vitamin A and D, important for immunity. Vitamin C is a powerhouse for our immune system. Eat lots of strawberries, kiwi fruit, cherries and citrus. Our orange veg such as pumpkin and carrot provide precursors to vitamin A production.
Hydration is extremely important in flushing out the rubbish. Many kids simply do not drink enough plain water. A general rule of thumb should be 30-35ml of water per kg of body weight, more with exercise, sport and in the heat.
Include lot of ginger, lemon, raw honey, 2-3 pieces of fresh fruit and 5 veg daily. Adequate protein intake in the form of eggs, fish, red meat and legumes. Avoid sugar!
The biggest deficiency I see in children in clinical practice is Iron. Children who are low in iron will be vulnerable to infection, present as pale, tired, irritable and generally have a poor appetite. Always get this checked with a GP if you suspect low iron in your child.
And don’t forget adequate sunshine, fresh air, activity and promoting and encouraging activities and hobbies that bring kids happiness.
Never incorporate supplements without first consulting a health care professional first.
Here’s to a sniffle free winter!