Watching your child battle coughs, aches, fever, runny noses, sore throats and other symptoms of cold and flu is tough on the whole family. The only thing that stands between your kids getting sick, or not, is their immune system. While it’s not possible to completely prevent or avoid cold-causing viruses, and children can get between five and 10 colds a year, there are things you can do in order to help them stay well and support their immune system health.
Eating nutritious food is one of the things that will help your child’s immune system remain healthy and here are 6 simple things you can do to support your child’s immune system health
1. Vitamin C
No surprise here – vitamin C is long known for its role in supporting a healthy immune system. It can help shorten the duration and severity of cold symptoms. It needs to be part of your child's diet everyday and 2 pieces of fruit per day will meet the requirements.
Vitamin C rich foods are fresh fruit and vegetables such as kiwi fruit, citrus fruits, berries and pineapple, capsicum, parsley and fresh peas. If your child struggles to eat raw fruit and vegetables it may be worth buying some Kakadu plum powder which is a rich source of vitamin C and can be added to smoothies or any drink.
Zinc is a largely forgotten essential mineral important for immune health and has been shown to be effective in reducing the number of colds per year in children. The easiest source of zinc are from animal protein sources such as red meat, poultry and seafood (especially oysters and shell fish). Pumpkin seeds (pepitas) are an especially good source and can be added to smoothies, bliss balls or if you are baking snacks such as muesli bars or biscuits they can finely chopped and added in.3. Bone Broth
Broth contains important minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and improves our bodies immune response. Bone broths are easy to make and are a great staple to have on hand in winter. They make delicious bases for soups, sauces, slow cooked meals and can be easily added without affecting the taste or texture. You can make your own or buy a quality broth paste or powder from a health food store or an IGA supermarket.
4. Brighten up their plates
Brightly coloured real food contains high levels of antioxidants and phytochemicals which support your child's immune systems. Blueberries, beetroot, baby spinach, pumpkin, cocao, cocao nibs, apples and kiwi fruit are all great sources of antioxidants. Encourage them to count all the different colours they can eat in one meal to get them more engaged and involved
5. Feed their gut bugs
Research has demonstrated the link between gut health and the development of a healthy immune system during childhood. A few tweaks to their diet to include high-fibre and fermented foods are great ways to support your child's gut health. Add some kefir and rolled oats to your child's breakfast or smoothie. Add some legumes such as lentils or kidney beans to a dinner such as bolognaise, soup or sausage rolls
6. Reduce the refined sugar
Sugar is like a suppressant for the immune system, reducing the activity of white blood cells so they become ineffective at protecting us from the bugs that are rife in winter. Reduce refined sugar in your child’s diet by reducing sugary breakfast cereals, processed sweet snacks and sugary drinks.
Blog by Alison Tehan- Nutritionist
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