Nurturing Futures

Give their immune system a much-needed boost

Tips and tricks to boosting your child’s immune system

The saying goes “You are what you eat” and when it comes to the immune system, this is pretty much law. About 70% of the immune system is actually located in the belly, so making the right food and lifestyle choices for your kids is extremely important. 

First thing’s first. Let’s break down what the immune system is: “Your child’s immune system is a complex network of organs, cells and proteins that work together to fight infections from viruses, bacteria, and parasites”, explains Ilsabé Spoelstra, a dietician at Mediclinic Bloemfontein. Now, because of the immune system’s crucial role in nurturing your child’s wellbeing, it’s completely normal and encouraged that you as the parent get involved in supporting your child’s immunity development. In fact, it’s been reported that 64% of parents globally reported are concerned over their child’s immune system and resistance to disease.

Here are a few ways you can give your little one’s immune system a much-needed boost:

Good food. Good immunity.
A healthy diet is everything when it comes to boosting your child’s immunity. The goal is ultimately to encourage their body to get hungry for good, fresh, healthy foods.

Here are some foods to include: 

•    Zinc is one of the most important minerals that can help boost your kid’s immune system. So foods packed with zinc, like beans and nuts, are definitely a secret weapon.
•    Fresh, colourful fruits and veggies.
•    Yoghurt is an excellent source of probiotics (the friendly bacteria).
•    Lean meats and protein.
•    Honey. 
•    Wholegrain foods.
•    Good fats, such as avocados, nuts and olives. 
•    Mushrooms.

Make good choices
A healthy immunity needs to be supported by healthy lifestyle choices:
•    Cut down on sugar, sugar products and especially sugary drinks.
•    Leave out all the bad fats.
•    Exercise as a family.
•    Keep them productively active.
•    Practise mindfulness.
•    Manage their stress and anxieties.
•    Call the shots! Make sure your child is up to date with their booster shots. Check in with their doctor.
•    Encourage them to wash their hands frequently.
•    Encourage them to cover their coughs and sneezes with their elbow.

Plenty of rest!
Sleep is so important in developing a healthy immune system, as that’s when the body produces proteins called cytokines which help fight infections and reduce inflammation. 

Here’s the sleep requirements depending on your child’s age: 
•    Kids between the ages of 3 and 5 should get from 10 to 13 hours of sleep.
•    Kids between the ages of 6 and 12 should get from 9 to 12 hours of sleep.
•    Kids between the ages of 13 and 18 should get from 8 to 10 hours of sleep.

Water may not be your child’s favourite drink but is the healthiest and best way to get them hydrated. But if your children are a little fussy, don’t worry.

There are healthy options to keep them hydrated:
•    Rooibos tea. According to registered dietitian, Megan Pentz-Kluyts, “Rooibos tea can help in fighting colds and infections and support the immune system. Rooibos also contains an antidiabetic miracle worker that together with the correct food choices, can help balance glucose levels and improve insulin resistance”. 
•    Lots and lots of fruit and veggies that contain water. So think fruits like watermelon, oranges, grapes, berries, or alternatively you could make a delicious soup packed with veggies.
•    Make infused water. A little fruit here and a sprinkle of mint leaves there make water more attractive to a child.

Along with a balanced meal or snack, a cup of NESTLÉ® NESPRAY® FortiGrow™ – a source of iron, zinc, vitamins A, C and D – gives your child the support they need to develop a healthy immune system.