The best gift you can ever give to your child is a healthy body and strong immunity to fight infections. Life is more difficult nowadays. From the past two decades, our lifestyle, especially food habits, has evolved. This change, not necessarily all good, has mainly affected kids as they are the ones latching on to the trend of packaged comfort foods. Ill health is the biggest hurdle in a child’s life journey. From food, climate, eating habits, and lifestyle, to almost everything is constantly changing (not all for good as it seems). In this evolving scenario, immunity plays a major role and your responsibility as a parent to provide the best foods for immunity boosting to your child.
Immune system is a complex network of cells, that not only protects your body from harmful disease causing viruses and bacteria but also aids in tissue repair and wound healing. In the context of corona pandemic, we can only rely on our immunity to safeguard us from the nerve-wrecking battlefield. While, to some extent, our immune system depends on genetics, it is also majorly influenced by our everyday choices- food and lifestyle.
Immunity boosting is a comprehensive process which starts right from the early age. As babies grow and start preschool, they are more likely to be attacked by viruses and bacteria causing cold cough and other infections. Building immunity becomes key at this early stage.
Tips to Strengthen Immunity
- Breastfeed your baby (studies suggest that breast milk is the best kids immunity booster available naturally.)
- Follow kid’s vaccination schedule
- Encourage kids to eat nutritious and healthy diet
- Proper rest and sleep (studies indicate that sleep and immunity are positively related)
- Develop hygienic habits (washing hands)
- Access to fresh air and sunlight (outdoor activities and vitamin D both help build immunity)
- Avoid Antibiotics (unless necessary since they reduce good bacteria in the body which build immunity)
There are certain nutrients required for the growth and functions of immune cells such as Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Zinc, Selenium, Iron and Protein. Focusing on nutrient rich food and a well-balanced diet is the best way to boost your kid’s immunity.
Also check, Foods to boost breast milk quality.
Immunity Booster Food for Kids
Study shows that vegetables provide nutrients like beta- carotene (Vitamin A), Vitamin C and Vitamin E and thus are the best child immunity food that parents can give to their kids. Many vegetables are also rich in other antioxidants that help reduce free radicals in the body (what are free radicals?). Vegetables are often a good source of prebiotic fiber that supports a healthy gut and immune system by becoming the food of the good bacteria living in the gut. Encouraging your child to eat a variety of vegetables in all colors like Broccoli, Spinach, bell paper, tomato, carrot, and beetroot in a day will take care of multiple vitamins and minerals required to keep the immunity high. (How to give complete nutrition for kids?)
Citrus fruits are considered as one of the best foods for immunity boosting in kids. Vitamin C is a key ingredient in all the citrus fruits. Vitamin C helps build up your immune system by increasing the production of white blood cells, which fights infections. Fruits like orange, guava, grapefruit, lemon and kiwi are high in Vitamin C.(Best fruits for kids and teens?)
Known for its amazing medicinal properties, ginger has been used as an active ingredient in many Ayurvedic medicines. Loaded with Vitamin B6 and magnesium, ginger also has gingerol (a photochemical compound in ginger that activates spice receptors on the tongue) which helps in enhancing immunity. It also has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory property, which helps in fighting infections. (Home remedy to treat cold in kids that actually works?)
The vitamin E found in nuts like pistachio, almonds, cashews, walnuts and other nuts makes nuts one of the best kids immunity booster foods that help the immune system to fight against invading bacteria. They are a great source of antioxidants that keep the body healthy and disease free by neutralizing free radicals and reducing inflammation. Study shows that some roasted nuts appear to have an increased antioxidant level as compared with raw one. (What are some high protein nuts and seeds?)
Turmeric not only acts as an one of the best foods for immunity boosting in kids but also has added health benefits. Curcumin, a compound found in turmeric, offers therapeutic relief and promotes immunity. It is a rich antioxidant which supports against body cell damage and has been found to delay or reverse diseases or age related decrease in body functions.You can boil a cup of milk with 1 teaspoon of turmeric in it and give it to your child once a day. (Turmeric and Honey balls)
This aromatic spice is the richest source of antioxidants among all the spices that makes it a great immunity booster food for kids as well as adults. Loaded with antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial properties which fight against viruses causing infections like cold and flu. (How to give cinnamon to kids?) Cinnamon is generally regarded as safe to give to your baby in small amounts after they turn 6 months of age. Cinnamon doesn’t commonly cause an allergic reaction in children or adults. Though heavy exposure to cinnamon can cause stomach upset, skin or mouth irritation, and possibly problems with bleeding due to decreased blood clotting but a sprinkle of cinnamon on your baby’s food probably won’t cause a problem. You can add cinnamon to applesauce, oatmeal, breakfast cereals, cakes, cookies and other items that kids enjoy eating.
Seeds are an incredible source of nutrients. Subja seeds are rich in omega3 (alpha- linolenic acid) and also packed with flavonoids both of which help to keep the immune system strong. Sunflower seeds are rich in magnesium, vitamin E, antioxidants and good fats. Together they help to boost immunity. Sesame seeds are rich in zinc which aids in healthy immunity by protecting the body cells from invading bacterias and viruses. Pumpkin seeds are rich in Vitamin E which is necessary for immunity building and also packed with other bone-building nutrients like potassium, magnesium and vitamin K. (What are some seeds good for brain?)
Garlic contains compounds called alliin that help the immune system fight germs. These compounds have been shown to boost the disease fighting response of the body when they encounter viruses of common cold or flu. (How does garlic help with healthy hair in kids?)
Jaggery and Sesame
As a natural sweetener, it is loaded with antioxidants and minerals like zinc which help prevent free radicals (responsible for weakening of body cells). Sugar can be conveniently replaced with jaggery in most of the sugary foods that kids love and hence jaggery is a good choice for child immunity food. It helps boost resistance against infections thereby building stronger immunity. Jaggery bars made with peanut and sesame are great for fighting winter flu. Sesame seeds are a good source of several nutrients crucial for the immune system including zinc. Zinc works as a shield to protect the body from any virus attack. (How does Zinc protect from boils on the body?)
It is a shrub and an essential herb in ayurvedic medicines. Giloy is used to treat a wide range of health conditions. It contains important plant compounds like terpenoids, alkaloids, lignans, and steroids. Research shows that these compounds have antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antidiabetic properties, among other benefits which help to boost immunity.
Tulsi leaves have been scientifically proven to have medicinal properties. It also has antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal effects, rich in vitamin c and zinc and thus keeps the infection at a bay and considered as one of the best natural foods for immunity boosting in kids. (Panchamrit benefits to boost immunity)
Amla is a storehouse of antioxidants. It is one of the richest sources of vitamin C, which is known to boost immunity. It has antibacterial and astringent properties that boosts immunity.
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