How to boost your child's immune system

Tips from Naturopath, Denise Hales

As a parent navigating through such uncertain times, I am sure you are doing the best you can for your Kiddo. With the start of school delayed and Covid numbers soaring, you have probably asked yourself a few of these questions. How can I improve my child's immune system? What can I do to ensure they are as healthy as they can be?

Focussing on what you can control in a seemingly uncontrollable time is a great way to cope. A healthy Diet is essential for good health and just one thing you as a parent can focus on for the benefit of your whole family.

We recently spoke with Naturopath, Denise Hales, on her tips on how to best increase your child’s immune system (and yours for that matter). Here is what she had to share with us.

1. Focus on Healthy Foods to improve your child’s immune system

Easier said than done right? Well it's all about making the most of those Kiddo’s meal times. Use every opportunity you can to ensure every time they eat they are taking in nutrition, incorporating:

  1. 5 serves of vegetables and 2 serves of fruit a day include leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, kale, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts, radishes) . Fruits that are packed full of immune system fighting goodies include Berries, avocados and oranges.
  2. Omega 3 fatty acids (essential for cell membranes, bones, heart function, liver, kidneys, immune and brain function: walnuts, chia seeds, flax seeds, nut butters, small fish such as sardines
  3. Use whole grains when possible – switch the nutrition-less cereal for oats, buckwheat, quinoa. Incorporate vegetables such as sweet potato, brown rice at dinner time.
  4. Switch some protein that may normally be meat to something that is legume based, such as lentils, chickpeas, beans, tofu.
  5. Add fresh herbs and spices wherever possible to pack some more immune boosting punch to salads! Its also a great idea to start a herb garden with your kiddos whilst you may be at home. Basil and Parsley are always great. Spices such as turmeric and adding garlic to meals will also help.

Denise’s tricks on increasing vegetable intake with the kiddos:

  • Sneak finely chopped vegetables to meatballs, muffins, latkes and meatloaf
  • Be creative: cauliflower rice, Kale chips, Carrot chips, Confetti Brussels sprouts, vegetable latkes

Make some delicious juices or smoothies, use the following to boost where possible: :

  • Anti-inflammatory: pineapple, fresh ginger, kale or spinach, fennel, fresh turmeric
  • Antioxidants: apple, blueberries, kiwi fruit, carrot, capsicum
  • Iron: kale, broccoli, beet, carrots, and orange

kiddo app bone broth

2. Bone or Vegetable Broth - natures golden juice

A great way to increase consumption of highly absorbable mineral rich nutrients, such as sodium, chloride, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium is making a Bone or Vegetable broth. Pull your old slow cooker out and add organic bone frames, vegetables, garlic and turmeric for a start, Denise has some wonderful recipes you can view here.

Use your broth to increase your child's immune system:

  • Use it as  a base for soups;
  • Cook pasta or grains in your bone stock or vegetable broth;
  • Add your broth when cooking bolognaise sauce;
  • Replace maggi noodles with rice noodles cooked in your broth (no nasties and so nutritious!)

fermented foods

3. Increase intake of Fermented Foods

Fermented foods such as yoghurt, kefir, raw sauerkraut and kombucha are beneficial for the digestive tract to increase good bacteria. Don’t forget 90% of the immune system is in the gut, try to incorporate or introduce where possible!

Most fermented foods can easily be made at home, with minimal ingredients, so hop to it!

4. Supplements to boost your child’s immune system

Adding some supplements to your daily routine, will help your Kiddo be in the best shape they can be.

Zinc is essential to fight infections. Signs of Zinc deficiency may include white spots on nail, frequent infections, loss of appetite.

Vitamin D is also important naturally sunshine is best, remember when the UV rating is low to avoid sunburn. However this may not be enough, a supplement might assist.

Vitamin C is essential for increasing our white cell count which is needed to boost our immune system. If you aren’t getting enough through diet, then a supplement might be the answer.

 

children sleeping

5. Don’t forget Sleep!

Finally, sleep deprivation or lack thereof will affect your Child’s immune system. If your child struggles to get to sleep, try magnesium in the bath, cream (rubs) or supplements, chamomile tea before bed or a child’s meditation app to calm the mind. Limit screen time and ensure they get some exercise and have enough activity during the day so they sleep better.

So there you have it, some great tips on nutrition and ways to best improve your child’s immune system and have them in the best shape they can be to combat any illness! We recommend speaking with a Qualified Practitioner to ensure your dosages are safe and of course to obtain the best quality products. Book a short consult with Denise at denise@guthappy.com.au or visit www.guthappy.com.aufor more details.

For other parenting tips why not read "Preparing to go back to school" or "25 Activities to entertain kids at home".

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