10 ways to boost your child’s immune system now they’re back at school – Daily Record
Back-to-school often means back-to-school bugs and as kids have headed back to the classroom, maintaining a strong immune system throughout the school year could be more important than ever right now.
There is no ‘magical pill’ you can take to boost your child’s immune system, experts say a holistic, 360 approach is needed. So here are 10 ways you can naturally increase your little one’s immunity.
1. Eat the rainbow
One of the best ways to support immunity with nutrition is by nourishing the body with whole foods and by eating the rainbow – try and get as many different colours of fresh fruit and vegetables into their daily diet as possible.
At home blending as many veg as you possibly can into a tomato sauce for pasta or soup works a treat. At school, avoid sweet treats in lunch boxes and swap for nuts and fruits coated in yoghurt – they’re packed with zinc, which is also a really effective immunity booster.
2. Vitamin C
Probably the most well-known nutrient for immune defence; vitamin C helps support a normal healthy immune system by helping to protect cells and keep them healthy. This vitamin can easily obtain through diet as it is abundant in many foods, such as: citrus fruit red and green peppers, strawberries, blackcurrants, broccoli and spinach.
3. Vitamin D
This vitamin is crucial for activating immune defences and without sufficient intake, the immune system will not be able to react to fight off infections in the body. The best source of vitamin D is through the skin’s exposure to sunlight, though food sources include: Oily fish, red meat, egg yolks.
The UK Department of Health recommend that we all supplement vitamin D throughout the winter months, with children under five-years-old considered an ‘at risk’ group for vitamin D deficiency, it is recommended that they should be given a daily supplement all year round.
Though with an estimated one in six children in the UK suffering from low levels due to lack of sunlight and the inability to obtain sufficient levels through diet alone, a daily supplement should be considered for children of all ages.
With antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties; it is is known to boost the immune system, thanks to the sulphur-containing compound, allicin.
They contain Vitamin E, and just half of a cup provides nearly 100% of the recommended daily amount of Vitamin E.
6. Stock up on zinc
Try to incorporate plenty of zinc-rich foods in their diet, including pumpkin seeds, spinach, and cacao.
7. Gut health
Think of your gut as a personal bodyguard – 70 per cent of your immune system is in your gut.
Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts (micro-organisms) that have various health benefits when consumed and that are easily introduced into our bodies to keep the bacteria happy and to keep our digestive systems ticking over nicely.
You can go down the food route, but unless your kids are really adventurous eaters and will try fermented foods like kimchi, miso, kefir, tempeh, and sauerkraut – live yoghurt is a good fall-back option (but make sure they are no added sugar varieties).
Aside from yoghurt, you can head down the supplement route. If you turn to supplements, just remember that not all supplements are created equally. Many have much lower strains of beneficial bacteria and as such are often ineffective. You are looking for a diverse range of strains, at least 14. Avoid pure-culture (freeze-dried) probiotics which don’t survive stomach acid as well.
8. Add some immune boosting spices into your diet
Turmeric, ginger and cinnamon are packed with immune boosting antioxidants and anti-inflammatories so add them into your little one’s diet where you can.
A less well-known mineral that contributes to a healthy immune system is selenium. Selenium is an antioxidant that lowers oxidative stress in the body, reducing inflammation and enhancing immunity. Good sources of selenium include: Brazil nuts, fish, meat and eggs.
10. Get plenty of sleep
Not getting enough sleep can lead a weakened immune system because lack of sleep is correlated with higher levels of cortisol, the body’s stress hormone.
Stress is known to suppress the immune system. Studies have shown that less than 5 hours of sleep negatively affects the immune system, and that 7 to 9 hours of sleep is ideal for adults, and 9 to 11 hours of sleep is ideal for school-age children. So make sure your little ones get enough sleep.
If you’re having trouble getting your little one to settle in at night, start by cutting out television and video games before bed, especially programs that have any scary images.
Also, food and drinks containing sugar and caffeine are best avoided near bedtime since they can cause hyperactivity in children.
Having a regular relaxing bedtime ritual can help your child mentally and physically prepare for sleep.