It’s smack bang in the middle of winter in the southern hemisphere right now and kids are falling like flies to colds, flu, chest and ear infections. Because kids immune systems are still developing (as well as their unsavoury hygiene habits) they tend to get sick often. That being said there are things we can do as parents to boost kids immune systems so they get sick less often and more importantly bounce back from sickness quickly!
1. Snub the sugar
We all know that sugar makes our kids crazy but did you know it also affects their immune system? Sugar is like a ‘chill pill’ for the immune system, reducing the activity of white blood cells so they become ineffective at protecting us from the bugs that are rife in winter. Reduce refined sugar in your child’s diet by reducing sugary breakfast cereals, processed sweet snacks and sugary drinks.
2. Brighten up their plates
Brightly coloured real food (we’re not talking smarties here!) contains high levels of antioxidants and phytochemicals which strengthen kids immune systems. Blueberries, beetroot, baby spinach, pumpkin and kiwi fruit are all great sources of antioxidants. Make sure there is lots of colour on your kid’s plates and encourage them to eat superfoods like goji berries, cacao nibs, and acai to give them a super boost.
3. Get Groovy with the Good bugs
Good bugs are also known as probiotics or beneficial bacteria and are valuable to our health in countless ways. Your immune system uses the good bugs to help recognise whether it needs to attack an invader and having a healthy colony of good bugs in your gut helps to reduce the frequency of colds and other infections. Babies that are born by Caesarean or fed formula , as well as kids that take antibiotics regularly or have high sugar diets have lower levels of these protective good bugs. To improve your kid’s good bacteria levels incorporate fermented foods such as yoghurt or homemade fermented veggies and supplement their diet with a good quality probiotic supplement.
4. Knock back some broth
Bone broths contain ample amounts of important minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium and improves our immune response. Bone broths are easy to make and are a great staple to have on hand in winter. They make delicious bases for soups, sauces, slow cooked meals and your kids will not even realise they are slurping down nutritional gold! You can make a big batch and freeze so there is always some on hand.
5. Jump in muddy puddles
Getting down and dirty outside has been replaced with too much screen time in the little people of today and as the weather gets cooler kids tend to migrate inside. The hygiene hypothesis states that lack of exposure to microbes suppresses the natural development of the immune system. Playing outside in the dirt benefits our kid’s immune system in a number of ways. It exposes them to microbes, supporting the healthy development of their immune system and at the same time they are soaking up the sun’s rays, improving their vitamin D levels.
Which of these are you going to focus on to boost your kid’s immune system this winter? Let us know in the comments.