IMMUNE BOOSTING STRATEGIES FOR YOUR CHILD

That Naturally Bolster their Bodies This Winter

Contributor:  Clinical Nutritionist, Desi Horsman

May 2017

“The host is more important than the invader.”

By Louis Pasteur

As parents we would love to protect our children from the prolific and increasingly resistant bacteria, viruses and other pathogenic microbes responsible for illnesses – but this is quite literally impossible. The bottom line is that germs thrive in an unhealthy body so the best defense is to build healthy, strong immune systems that can withstand and fight disease. It’s also important to recognise where the most infectious diseases are contracted – and that’s either through the intestinal tract or respiratory system.  It stands to reason that special attention needs to be paid to these areas:

  • A strong immune system starts with a healthy diet.

When it comes to diet the focus should be on whole fruit and vegetables rich in immune boosting phytonutrients which increase the production of white blood cells. Raw vegetables should be included in lunchboxes and with every meal. Vitamin C and a multivitamin/mineral needs to be supplemented if your child is not eating enough fruit and veg daily.

If you can get your children to eat them – include healthy fats like avocadoes, nuts and seeds, olives, and oily cold water fish. Zinc is plentiful in nuts and seeds and not only does it boost the immune system but lessens the severity of symptoms too.

Only serve your family grass fed meat (free of hormones and anti-biotics) and try and introduce legumes too. Wholegrains and eggs are also an important part of a balanced diet.

Avoid:

  • Preservatives, additives, artificial sweeteners, pesticides and other chemicals
  • Sugar (there is also plenty of research that has shown its immune suppressive actions)
  • Refined carbohydrates and processed foods

An overexposure of toxins in a small body will suppress the immune system and interfere with the body’s natural ability to heal itself.

  • Allergies:

Allergies have become more prominent in the last few years. Food allergies weaken the digestive system and cause inflammation which makes fending off viruses and bacteria very difficult. Gluten and dairy seem to be amongst the biggest culprits especially where there are recurrent respiratory infections.

  • Gut Health:

As much as 70 to 80% of the immune system lies in the gut which makes probiotic levels vital as a first line of defense. Probiotics prevent the overgrowth of harmful intestinal bacteria and other micro-organisms which produce disease causing toxins. This also means that essential vitamins and enzymes are not produced, and your child’s ability to ward off infections is lessened. Probiotics also help decrease food sensitivities and environmental allergies. Our modern lifestyles and eating habits compromise our gut health so an intermittent supplement of different probiotic strains would be highly beneficial – particularly ahead and during winter.

  • Exercise and Sunshine:

The immune system relies on exercise to function properly. The lymph which transports certain defense cells around the body needs exercise to move. If the lymph becomes sluggish and clogged, resistance drops which gives rise to regular infections. Exercise improves circulation of immune cells in the blood so make sure your child is not glued to a screen and getting plenty of exercise.  Make it fun or turn it into a game and even a child who is not big on exercise will enjoy it.  Regular sunshine also improves levels of Vitamin D which has the ability to break down cell walls of bacteria and viruses so make sure your child gets all they need.

  • Sleep:

Lack of and bad quality sleep drops production of immune fighter cells. Primary school children need at least 10 hours of sleep a day. Make sure there are no electronic devises left on in their rooms.

  • Purified water:

Fruit juices should be avoided at school and replaced with pure water.

  • Emotional wellbeing:

We live in a very fast paced world, children are under immense pressure and parents are over stressed. Pay attention to what is going on in their lives even though it may appear trivial to you. They are more likely get ill when you are stressed and symptoms can be more severe. Teach your child how to manage stress from the youngest possible age with age appropriate measures – deep breathing is a great place to start. Children need down time to relax and lots of creative play so make sure they do.

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Distributed On behalf of Desi Horsman and to contact for further information:

SIMONSAYS Communications

Melanie Stevens 083 303 9667 / 011 465-9815 mel@simonsayscom.co.za