Winter is upon us and if you are a parent, along with the ice and snow come runny noses, sore throats, ear infections, coughs and fevers. If nights filled with colds, flu and croup have you dreading this winter season, don’t fret. Instead, fight back against illness before it strikes your child. With a few simple tricks, you can boost your child’s immune system and ward off sickness.
Sure you could ply your child with herbal supplements in the hope that they will boost their immune system, but you can do it without supplements. Here are some simple ways to boost your child’s immune system this winter without using herbal supplements.
Get Enough Sleep
Getting enough rest is a great way to boost your child’s immune system this winter. A recent study at Carnegie Mellon University found that sleeping less than seven hours a night makes a person three times more likely to catch a cold. And that’s just for adults. Experts suggest that kids need anywhere from nine to eleven hours of sleep a night for optimum health. Making sure your child gets adequate sleep is the first step in boosting their immune system in preparation for winter.
Making sure your child has a proper diet is an effective way to boost your child’s immune system this winter. Make sure your child eats a lot of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, beans, seeds and nuts. Try to eat locally and seasonally for optimum nutrition. If your child is a picky eater, why not try the newest fad in child nutrition- sneaking healthy foods into their meals. Not sure how to go about being a sneaky chef? Pick up a copy of The Sneaky Chef by Missy Chase Lapine or Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld. Both offer great recipes and tips for upping the nutrition factor of your child’s diet on the sly. Just as important as eating the right foods is making sure your child eliminates harmful foods. Cut out as much sugar and refined food as you can from your child’s diet. Studies have shown that sugar depresses immune function.
Supplement with Vitamin C Rich Foods
Most people already know that eating vitamin C rich foods can help boost their child’s immune system. Vitamin C has powerful antioxidant properties that can help fight off illness. Don’t limit your child’s vitamin C experience to orange juice. Have them try kiwi fruit, tomatoes, papaya, mango, berries, broccoli, spinach, other citrus fruits, and red, yellow or orange peppers.
Supplement with Vitamin E and Selenium Rich Foods
Eating vitamin E and selenium rich foods is a great way to boost your child’s immune system. Vitamin E should always be used along with selenium to help increase its antioxidant effect. Antioxidants are important tools in boosting the immune system. They help scavenge and destroy diseased cells and repair damaged cells. Great food sources of vitamin E include sweet potatoes, nut and seed oils and wholegrain cereals. You can find good sources of selenium in beef, chicken, turkey, cheese, eggs, tuna, cod, wholegrain cereals, soybeans and certain nuts such as Brazil nuts and walnuts. Try to include some of these foods every day this winter in your child’s diet.
Other Important Nutrients for Immune System Health
Here are some other important nutrients to include in your child’s diet In order to give their immune system a healthy boost.
Carotenoids: found in carrots, peppers, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, pumpkin, oranges, mango, apricot, cayenne pepper and chili pepper
Zinc: found in beef, poultry, lamb, liver, prawns, eggs, nuts, milk, whole grains and pumpkin seeds
Omega3 Fatty Acids: found in salmon, sardines, mackerel, anchovies, herring, walnuts, corn, flaxseed and olive oil
Stay Well Hydrated
It is also important for your child to drink enough water. One of the ways your body uses water is as a means of flushing out harmful bacteria. If you can’t get your child to drink the recommended six to eight servings of water a day, make sure they supplement with lots of moisture filled fruits and vegetables.
Practice Proper Hygiene
Poor hygiene is a sure way for kids to become ill. Help boost your child’s immune system this winter by encouraging proper hygiene habits such as hand washing and proper nose blowing techniques. Also important- make sure kids know the proper hygienic procedure to follow for sneezing.
Get Proper Exercise
Your little winter time couch potato may be more susceptible to illness. Get those bodies moving everyday and boost your child’s immune system to boot. It is especially important to make an effort to get your kids moving in the winter, when cold weather keeps kids indoors, and often inactive, for long periods of time.
Probiotics are good bacteria found most commonly in yogurt. Probiotics help to stimulate the intestinal system and helps ward off viruses. Acidophilus and lactobacillus are the most widely available probiotics. Including probiotics in your child’s diet can help rev up their immune system into high gear.