With all kinds of colds, flu and other bugs floating around the air, do what you can to keep your children’s immune system protected.
1. Vitamins & Nutrients
Good nutrition with plenty of fruit and veg is essential to maintaining a strong immune system. This can also offer protection from seasonal illnesses and other health issues such as allergies.
It is beneficial to integrate vitamins and nutrients into your child’s daily diet. Supplements can also be used for the fussier eaters amongst us.
These may include:
- Protein – this boosts the body’s defence system (found in lean meats, beans, nuts, eggs, soy products and seeds).
- Vitamin A – this is a multi-purpose vitamin, which helps keep the skin and respiratory system healthy, as well as the tissues in your mouth, stomach and intestines (found in sweet potatoes, carrots, kale, spinach and apricots).
- Vitamin C – this triggers the formation of antibodies that fight infection (found in citrus fruits, red bell peppers, papayas and tomato juice).
- Vitamin E – this is an antioxidant that neutralises toxic by-products in the body (found in sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, peanut butter, sunflower/safflower oil and spinach).
- Zinc – this helps wounds to heal and keeps the immune system in proper working order (found in lean meats, poultry, seafood, milk, whole grain products, beans and nuts).
Stay up-to-date with your child’s vaccinations. Getting these vaccinations in younger years can help prevent harmful diseases as children grow into adults. With recent outbreaks of mumps and measles nationwide, it is vital to make sure your children get their vaccinations on time.
Children need between 8 and 12 hours of sleep per night to help keep their bodies strong and healthy. Try your best (it is likely a difficult feat) to help them stick to a regular, calming evening routine. Introduce a curfew on electronic devices 1-2 hours before sleep time as using these just before bed can cause difficulty dropping off to sleep.
Active children are healthier children. Experts recommend that children get 60 minutes of physical activity per day – the perfect way to tire them out in the evenings.
5. Teach hand-washing
Teaching children the basics of hand-washing with soap and water is the easiest way to prevent the spread of disease. Teach your little one to lather for 20 seconds or say their ABC’s twice before washing off the soap. This process is more beneficial than using hand sanitizers, as these tend to destroy both the good and bad bacteria on the hands.
6. Take probiotics
Probiotics are great for gut health. Probiotics can be taken in tablet form or found in foods such as yogurt. If your child is sick however, avoid dairy products as these can contribute to inflammation and a build-up of mucus.
A recent study published in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology suggests that omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil and plant sources, like flax seeds, chia seeds, brussels sprouts and cauliflower, can also contribute to boosting your immune function.
8. Don’t be afraid of dirt
The physical act of playing outside and allowing your children to get a little dirty has been linked to fewer allergies and a stronger immune system.
A 2015 study also revealed that more green space at a children’s school may help develop their thinking skills faster. Researchers tracked nearly 2,600 schoolchildren aged 7-10 for a year, testing them every three months to see how their memory and attention developed. The study found that students exposed to more green space showed more improvement in both their working memory and attentiveness compared to children surrounded by less green space.
Pop into your local CarePlus Pharmacy for advice on vitamins, probiotics and Omega-3's.