With winter now in full swing protecting your kids immune system is integral to helping them avoiding the cold and flu season.
Typically our immune system does a wonderful job of defending our bodies against disease. Every day we come in contact with many potential illnesses through human interaction, holding hand rails and even food. Our immune system is on call 24/7 to safeguard us against these dangers.
“The immune system is made up of the tonsils, thymus, lymph nodes and vessels, bone marrow and the spleen,” says Dr Ryan Harvey of House Call Doctor.
“It is comprised of antibodies, white blood cells and other chemicals and proteins which attack pathogens, such as bacteria and viruses.”
While we may not often pause to think about how we can help our immune system out, ensuring it is functioning to its full potential is vital. Luckily, there are some easy and natural ways to help give your immune system a boost.
If your little one has come down with the sniffles a few times already this year it might be time to look at their diet and the role food plays in supporting their immune system.
- Green Leafy Vegetables
“In order to maintain a healthy and functioning immune system fresh food, such as fruit and vegetables, are key,” says Dr Harvey.
Green leafy vegetables in particular are rich in nutrients that help boost the immune system. “Green leafy vegetables are a rich source of iron,” says Dr Harvey. “This helps with the production of white blood cells and antibodies which fuel your immune system.”
When it comes to getting kids to eat green leafy vegetables it’s often easier said than done. Try sneaking them into delicious smoothies.
- Fresh fruit
“Maintaining a diet rich in vitamins is important to overall health and immune function,” says Dr Harvey. “This includes lots of colourful fruits which are rich in vitamins, minerals, fibre and water.”
The added bonus is that most kids enjoy the taste of fruits, making it easy include more in their diet.
The best fruits for immune health are:
- Kiwifruit - high in vitamin C and vitamin E
- Blueberries - high in vitamin C, vitamin A and antioxidants
- Papaya - high in beta-carotene which converts to vitamin A when eaten
- Strawberries - high in vitamin A and vitamin C
- Oranges - high in vitamin C, vitamin A and fibre
Garlic has been hailed since the dawn of time as a miracle working food. “Garlic contains anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties,” says Dr Harvey. “These help stimulate the immune system and increase the production of antibodies.”
Raw garlic is most beneficial for health as heat and water can activate sulphur enzymes which diminish antibiotic affect. However, adding garlic to the kids favourite pasta dish may still offer some benefits.
“Foods rich in ‘good’ bacteria, such as yoghurt, can help strengthen the immune system,” says Dr Harvey. “They also help the body digest nutrients in other foods.”
It’s not yet fully understood how probiotics affect the immune system but studies have identified a connection between the immune system and gut bacteria.
If you have a fussy eater on your hands there are some other tips Dr Harvey suggest to help give their immune system an extra boost:
- Get adequate sleep
- Exercise regularly
- Teach them to was their hands thoroughly