Cold and Flu: Are you feeding your kids right?

With every changing season, the biggest concern among parents around the globe is to prevent their kids from cold and flu and what are the foods for cold and flu season. Children start to get cold after about six months of age when the immunity they received from their mom fades and they have to build up their own immunity. Cold and flu season prevention become more important for kids less than seven years of age who have an immature immune system which makes them more susceptible to cold and flu viruses. Most of the kids have at least six to eight colds a year, which is likely to happen during fall and winter. Every time when kids get infected with a specific cold virus, their immune system develops antibodies, which help them to fight against it next time. But there are lots of different cold viruses, so it takes time to build an effective immune system.

Children catch cold, when a virus comes in contact with the lining of nose and throat. There are more than two hundred different viruses causing cold in children, but the Rhinovirus is the most common offender. The symptoms for cold include stuffy or runny nose and sneezing. However, flu symptoms are more severe than cold and include fever, headache, sore throat, congestion.

Ways to get infected by a cold and flu:

Direct contact: by getting in contact with a person infected by cold virus. As cold is contagious; they can pass on the virus. It’s usually spread when an infected person has a cold blow or touches their nose and then touches someone or something else.

Indirect contact: by touching toys, doorknobs, books and other items that have been touched by an infected person.

Through air: if an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks, the virus can spread through droplets in the air and may enter your body through nose, mouth, eyes.

Precautions are better than cure. Some foods for cold and flu season:

Turmeric: Due to its antibacterial and anti-viral properties turmeric is one of the best foods for cold and flu season, known to treat viral infections. Adding turmeric powder to a glass of warm milk can offer relief in the aching throat and runny nose.Honey: Honey contains antioxidants, anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties which makes it best for cold and flu season prevention. It has been used traditionally for thousands of years in different Asian cultures to treat infections. (An easy honey recipe for kids)

Carrot: Beta- carotene in carrots converts into vitamin A which is key for keeping mucous membranes (inside nose and mouth) healthy. Vitamin A also benefits the immune system by preparing it to fight when a similar virus attacks next time. All these nutrients make it one of the best foods for cold and flu season. (How does Vitamin A help skin?)

Ginger: Ginger roots are used for centuries for health benefits in Asian cultures. Research shows that ginger has medicinal properties, both antiviral and antibacterial, that could help ease the symptoms of cold or sore throat so it’s good to use lots of ginger for cold and flu season prevention. (What are other Ayurvedic herbs that are good for kids?)

Egg: We all know eggs as one of the foods for cold and flu season. Eggs are packed with immunity boosting nutrients, with high amounts of vitamin D, which is vital in regulating and strengthening immunity. Vitamin D is present in every cell of the body, strengthening it and protecting it against viruses or bacteria attacking from the outside. A child who took a daily serving of vitamin D in winters were less likely to catch cold and flu as compared to those who did not.

 Whole Grain: Whole grains are high prebiotic fiber which has anti-inflammatory properties and increases the production of healthy bacteria in the gut. It works as the food for the bacteria living in the gut and increasing them in quantity, ensuring healthy gut health. Simply put, with lack of fiber, bacteria living in the gut don’t survive as they don’t get their food. This causes lowered immunity. (How does this help with acne?)

 Apple: This fruit contains phytochemical antioxidants which helps in boosting immunity. Apples are also full of calories which come from a good mix of carbs, vitamins and minerals which keeps your child energized to fight the infection without losing much of weight. One apple with skin has 5g of fiber which ensures healthy gut health also. (Should an apple be given every day?)

 Spinach: Spinach is a super food that is great for your overall health not only it is packed with digestion regulating prebiotic fiber but it also contains vitamin C, a powerful nutrient that can help in preventing common cold and reduce symptoms of sickness. (An easy spinach recipe for kids)

Blueberries: Blueberries are filled with antioxidants that can help in treating and preventing cold and flu. It contains flavonoids, a type of antioxidants that can help reduce damage to cells and boost the immune system.

Apart from offering plenty of fluids to keep the child hydrated, foods for cold and flu season should be rich in antioxidants like Vitamin C (what is the easiest source?), Vitamin E (what are some easy sources?) and zinc, which help to fight against cold and flu. Zinc forms a protective layer on the cells of the body and shields against invading bacteria and viruses. It is popularly found in diaper rash creams or sunscreens for the same reason. There are certain foods that you should avoid including in your kids diet if he/she has cold and flu such as sugary foods and oily foods which are refined and processed as they don’t contribute any nutrition to cure the infection. Rather they can work adversely (How?). So it’s better to take cold and flu season prevention.

Cold and flu season prevention:

  • Hand wash – make your kids wash their hands on a regular basis especially when they are in contact with someone infected or sanitize their hands.
  • Teach your kids to cover their nose and mouth while sneezing or coughing.
  • Avoid sharing cups, utensils, toys and towels with others.

Recipe: Honey Turmeric immunity balls

  • Roast 1 tbsp turmeric, once the colour turns light brown and aromatic, take it off
  • Add 1 tsp honey
  • Add 1tsp or more jaggery powder
  • Add ½ tsp cinnamon powder (optional)
  • Add 1 tsp dry ginger powder (optional)
  • Add mashed dates (optional)

Check the consistency to make round tiny balls or tablet shapes or add more honey to keep it a syrup (as child likes)

Give kids 1-2 tablets or 1-2 tsp syrup in a day, preferably before bedtime and avoid any cold food or fruits just after giving these. Can also add this syrup or tablet to warm milk till and mix well.

This has been tried with kids and they always ask for more:)

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