How to Increase Immunity In Children Naturally
Good immunity is a result of good food. Food is a natural remedy and it plays a significant role in boosting immunity. It is the most cost-effective and readily available method of building your child’s immunity. So, let your child eat his way to a super immune system.
The purpose of your child’s immunity is to protect his body against attack by diseases. A good immune system helps to identify, fight and destroy all the pathogens such as bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites. On a daily basis, millions of pathogens penetrate into your child’s body but the immune system destroys them all.
Enhancement of your child’s immune system is the most important step towards helping your child resist the common childhood diseases such as cold, flu, asthma to mention just but a few. The immune system is a natural barrier that is a build-up of cells, tissues, organs, and proteins. It fights infections and hence prevents illnesses.
However, sometimes the immune system fails and pathogens get into your child’s body. That is why sometimes your child falls sick. The good news is that you can intervene and make your child’s immunity strong. If your children are constantly falling sick, it is time to check what you feed them.
You can increase your child’s immunity naturally by feeding him foods that contain phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are nutrients that are found only in plants. They are known to play a role in the production of disease-fighting cells i.e. white blood cells. In addition to phytonutrients, antioxidants also are helpful in developing a healthy gut.
The gut contains a number of complex gut flora. This community of microbes that lives in a person’s gut plays a vital role in boosting the immune system. If the microbes in your child’s gut become imbalanced due to poor eating, your child’s body’s ability to fight diseases causing bacteria is reduced and he becomes an easy play to colds and flu.
There are a number of foods that are known to boost the immune system. Some of the immunity-boosting foods include the following:
- Citrus fruits e.g. grapefruits, lemon, and oranges. They are rich in vitamin C which helps in fighting diseases.
- Antioxidants e.g. blueberries
- Guavas – they are vitamin C rich
- Yogurt – it contains probiotics
- Onions, cayenne pepper
- Pumpkin, squash
- Nuts and seeds
- Green leafy vegetables
Studies have shown that sugar is the major immunity destroyer. This is because it alters the microbial environment in the body. It creates a sugary environment where the sugar-loving disease-causing bacteria thrive. Therefore, if you want to boost your child’s immune system, do away with the sugar and its products. Instead, use natural sugar that is available in most fruits.
Children with poor immunity are highly susceptible to attack by diseases. This is the basic symptom of a weak immune system in children. The weak immune system leads to increased use of antibiotics against infections. The higher the rate of infection by diseases, the higher the rate of the use of antibiotics. The increased use of antibiotics is the major contributor to antimicrobial resistance.
In many parts of the world, antimicrobial resistance is a major problem. The only solution to antimicrobial resistance is the building of strong immunity in children.
How to increase a child’s immunity naturally
Sometimes children strengthen their immunity by battling with a series of attacks by either bacteria or virus or germs and other microbes. But, there are natural methods that you as a parent can use to boost your child’s immune system. The most common ones are:
A mother’s milk contains a number of immunity-boosting properties. More especially the first mother’s milk known as colostrum. Colostrum is charged with immunity-boosting antibodies and sometimes white blood cells.
Breastfeeding your child helps your child gain protection against allergies, pneumonia, ear infection, diarrhea, urinary tract infection, meningitis and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Other studies indicate that besides boosting your child’s immunity, colostrums helps in your baby’s brain development. Besides that, it also goes a long way in protecting your baby against insulin-dependent diabetes, colitis and various types of cancer that might manifest itself later on in life.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, as a mother, you should breastfeed your child for at least a year. If for unavoidable circumstances you cannot breastfeed your child for a year, ensure that you breastfeed him exclusively for six months. This will go a long to supplement his immunity.
Does exercise help to boost immunity? Yes! According to studies, exercise helps to increase the number of killer cells both in children and adults. Therefore, regular exercise can help your child to build a strong immune system.
Children learn best by example. If you want your child to exercise regularly, lead by example. It is advisable that you exercise with your child instead of commanding him to exercise. There are several activities that you can engage in with your child. Some of the simple exercises you can do with your child include:
- Playing table tennis
- Riding a bicycle
Make sure that your child gets at least 1 to 2 hours of play per day. Do not utilize every hour that your child is free as playtime. Outdoor exercise is crucial to the development of a strong immunity not only in children but in adults also.
Doing outdoor exercise has another benefit as well. As your child will be exposed to the sunshine, he will get vitamin D. vitamin D is essential to the immune system. Low level of vitamin D is associated with most autoimmune conditions such as type 1 diabetes.
Studies have shown that an optimum level of vitamin D in the body helps to increase the number of white blood cells in the body. The white blood cells are the body’s security defenders. Encourage your child to spend more time in the sun more especially in the morning and evening so as to make more vitamin D. The sun’s rays are also known to help in killing some pathogens including the bacterial for cold and flu.
3. Home Remedies that Boost Immunity
There are hundreds of tested and tried natural remedies that help boost immunity. These remedies can be included in your child’s food on a daily basis to give your baby’s immunity a boost.
Some of these home remedies include the following:
(i) Fermented foods – these include foods like curd milk and yogurt. Fermented foods contain probiotics that are helping boost the microbes in your child’s gut. The gut microbes form part of the immune system since they help to fight infections.
(ii) Ginger – you can blend ginger and mix it with other food. Also, you can juice it and mix it with honey and hot water and let your child drink. According to studies, give your child ginger water early in the morning and sometimes in the evening it is ideal.
(iii) Basil (Tulsi) – you can add basil leaves in the food. It has been found to help in fighting infections in the body. You can also crush the leaves and mix its juice with honey and give it to your child.
(iv) Garlic – Garlic is a good immune booster. You can blend it and add it to your daily cooking.
(v) Citrus fruits – they are rich in vitamin C. Ascorbic acid is a major immunity booster. Ensure that your child gets plenty of fruits such as oranges, lemons, gooseberries, and other citrus fruits. Tomato is also a good source of vitamin C. The ascorbic acid present in citrus fruits not only improves immunity, but also it enhances the absorption of iron in the body.
It is crucial for you to realize also that every time your child is attacked by a cold or flu, he is building his immunity.
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Studies have found out that not getting enough sleep weakens the immune system. This makes children more susceptible to attacks by diseases. Proper sleep helps the body to rejuvenate. Depending on the age of your child, he should get enough sleep according to his age.
Usually, newborn babies require up to 18 hours of sleep per day. Toddlers require between 12 to 13 hours of sleep per day. While school-going children require around 10 hours of sleep.
Adequate sleep helps keep the body strong. A strong body can resist infections easily as compared to a weak body. Ensure that your child maintains a regular sleep pattern. A regular bedtime helps your baby to sleep well, relax and be rejuvenated the following day.
Along with a balanced diet, enough sleep is essential. To improve the quality of your child’s sleep, he should sleep in a dark room. This is because the hormone that is responsible for sleep known as melatonin is produced in the dark. Also, ensure that all electronic devices are switched off or far from the sleeping baby. This is because sound can affect the quality of your child’s sleep.
When your child gets a good quality of sleep, it prepares his body to better fight infections.
5. Serve Vegetables
Green leafy vegetables are a major booster to immunity. Vegetables contain phytonutrients which are immune boosters. Phytonutrients help to increase the production of disease-fighting white blood cells. They also help in the production of interferon. Interferon is a type of antibody that coats the surface of most cells. It helps in the fight against virus infection.
Apart from that, studies show that phytonutrients play a significant role in the fight of certain kinds of cancer in the body. Most children do not like vegetables, but since you know the benefits he will get from it, help him eat them.
It is recommended that a child should eat five servings of vegetables and fruits per day. In other words, a toddler should eat two tablespoons of vegetables and older children one cup of greens in a day.
Another important reason as to why your child should eat vegetables is methylation. In lay man’s language, methylation is a biological process through which the body performs important functions such as detoxification.
The process of methylation is helped by the presence of sulfur in the food. Some of the sulfur-rich vegetables include the following broccoli, sprouts, and Brussels. Dark green leafy vegetables also like spinach and kale, which contains vitamin B helps also in the methylation process. They help your child to build a strong immune system that can fight most of the infections.
If your child does not like vegetables, you can make a vegetable smoothie for him. You can sweeten the smoothie with natural sugar such as dates. Vegetables are a major booster of the immune system in children.
6. Use of Essential Oils
There are some essential oils that are known to help boost immunity. For instance:
- Eucalyptus oil – it has both antibacterial and immune-moderating properties. You can spray the eucalyptus oil in the house and as your child inhales the fumes, it will help vitalize his immune system.
- Oregano oil – this oil is mostly used as a food flavor. But it contains properties that enhance the immune system. You can add this essential oil to your daily cooking and as the family will be enjoying the flavor, it will be boosting the immunity as well.
7. Serve Foods with Probiotics
One of the body’s defense mechanisms is in the gut. The gut contains microbes that help fight infections. One way of building the gut bacteria is through partaking food rich in probiotics. Some of the foods that are rich with probiotics include sauerkraut, curd, and yogurt.
For your child to benefit from the yogurt, choose the one that is mixed with fruits. Probiotics will help your child to build a strong gut flora which helps in the fight against infections. Studies have indicated that a low gut microbial exposes the child to most bacterial attacks.
8. Avoid Giving Your Child Antibiotics
Urging your pediatrician to write a prescription for an antibiotic whenever your child has a cold, flu, or sore throat is a bad idea
Antibiotics treat only illnesses caused by bacteria, “but the majority of childhood illnesses are caused by viruses,” says Howard Bauchner, M.D., a professor of pediatrics and public health at the Boston University School of Medicine.
However, some antibiotic prescriptions are not necessary. When antibiotics are used wrongly, they lead to the killing of beneficial gut microbes. This is harmful to your child rather than helping him.
When your child falls ill, before you give him the prescribed antibiotics, consider if there is a natural way of dealing with it. The abuse of antibiotics has led to a major problem of antibacterial resistance. Therefore, if you do not want your child to become resistant to antibiotics, consider other ways that can deal with his infection rather than antibiotics.
Immune Boosting Recipes for Toddlers
For children under six months, you can prepare supplementary foods for them that can help boost their immunity. The recipe contains:
- Puffed rice
- Roasted chana
Grind the puffed rice and chana together. Then add a small amount of jaggery as a sweetener. To feed the toddler, mix two spoonfuls of the mixture in a bowl with warm water. Add jaggery as desired. Stir and mix well and feed your child.
A healthy diet is key to a strong immunity. Along with the things discussed above, ensure that your child is not exposed to unnecessary stress or anxiety. Stress is another major killer of immunity.
Certain levels of discipline and hygienic practices are essential to proper growth and development. Ensure that your children adapt to a regular routine of eating. Eating at the same time and no in-between meals encourage proper digestion. Proper digestion is key to keeping the body strong and healthy. Having a regular eating time helps to make your child hungry which in turn will allow him to eat well and good portions. This will lead to a strong immune system.
Teach your toddler about nutritious and healthy food against junk. It is often said, “we are what we eat.”If your child will eat only healthy and nutritious food, he is likely to build a healthy immune system. Also, teach your child about the possible ways of contacting germs which can make him sick. Let him learn to wash his hands before and after taking a meal and visiting the restroom. Also, roadside food is a possible source of infections. Let him avoid it.