Health : What are the natural ways to strengthen a child’s immune system?
There is nothing that can make a parent suffer more than watching their child fall prey to infectious disease. But can we really do something to strengthen the child’s immune system and protect the child from the viruses and germs to which he is exposed every day? Unfortunately, in a way, getting sick often is a part of all children’s lives.
Children are often sick: what can be done to strengthen the child’s immune system?
Children are all born with an immune system with no experience. Little by little the child ‘trains’ his immune system by fighting with continuous series of germs, viruses and other organisms and this is the reason why many pediatricians consider that between six and eight colds, flu or infections of the ears are completely normal. But there are also healthy habits that we as parents can adopt to strengthen the child’s immune system and avoid doctor visits as much as possible.
Six to eight colds a year is normal for children, pediatricians say
But it should not be forgotten that there are also children whose immune systems appear weaker and they really contact all the bacteria and viruses they encounter which often results in runny nose, colds or repeated gastrointestinal infections. If your child is in this case, then it is time more than ever to strengthen the child’s immune system. Because, no, you don’t have to accept your child’s constant infections that among other things lead to repeated absenteeism from school for the child and work for the parents. There are several steps you can take in this case to boost your child’s immune system, as well as decrease the duration of illness.
There are things we can do as parents to boost a child’s immunity
Avoid antibiotics unless absolutely necessary
Antibiotics are prescribed by doctors over 154 million times a year for several reasons. The purpose of antibiotics is to kill bacteria that cause infections, and sometimes antibiotics can save lives. However, specialists believe that 30 percent of the antibiotics prescribed are not really necessary. This is very important because antibiotics kill bacteria but also kill good bacteria in the stomach. And then why kill the good bacteria if it is not necessary.
Food and hygiene are very important for strengthening the child’s immune system
If the doctor prescribes antibiotics for your child, do not accept the prescription without asking him about his reasons. Is this prescription really necessary? Is it possible that the immune system can manage on its own without antibiotics? Are there more natural options? Doctors specializing in natural health sometimes recommend more natural alternatives to strengthen the child’s immune system, such as colloidal silver.
Regulate the family’s sleep schedule before the first day of school
In summer the sun stays longer and it can be difficult to establish a regular sleep schedule. But as fall approaches, re-establishing a sleep schedule with a specific bedtime is really important. Having a schedule can affect the child’s immune system’s ability to avoid colds and the colds of the fall and winter. And this means that the child should no longer stay late and sleep late in the morning. The majority of children need between 10 and 14 hours of uninterrupted sleep each day to be healthy and better prepared for the attacks of seasonal colds.
Allow children to spend more time outdoors when weather permits
Summer is the time to play outside, but the games outside should not end once school starts in the fall. Encourage your child to spend time outdoors as much as possible throughout the year regardless of the season, not only for physical activity and fresh air but also for ‘sunshine vitamin’, vitamin D. The body absorbs sunlight using cholesterol to transform it into a form of vitamin D and every cell in the body requires vitamin D to strengthen a child’s immune system.
However, since we do not spend enough time outdoors, most of us have vitamin D deficiencies and the low levels of this vitamin are linked to autoimmune conditions like type 1 diabetes and inflammatory disorders of the intestine. Maximum vitamin D levels have been linked to improvements in these conditions by helping to increase the white cells that are the “defenders” of the immune system. Take advantage of vitamin D by sending the whole family outside when the weather is nice and boycotting TV and games on the computer. Instead, read books outside, go for a walk with your kids, or go swimming in the summer. And during school time, take a family walk, play outside or go on picnics in the park to take the dose of vitamin D needed to be healthy.
Watch out for the spread of germs
Fighting germs can’t technically boost a child’s immune system, but it’s a great way to reduce stress on a child’s immune system. Make sure the child is washing their hands well enough and with soap. You should pay close attention to hygiene before and after each meal, after playing outside, after playing with animals, blowing your nose, using the toilet, and after each outing. When you are outside, you can take cleaning wipes with you to clean your hands from time to time. And to help children get into the habit of washing their hands, let them choose their own soaps or towels in colorful and fun patterns.
Another strategy to protect yourself from germs: if the child is sick, it’s best to throw out their toothbrush right away. The child cannot get the same cold or the same virus twice, but the virus can easily jump from toothbrush to toothbrush and also infect other family members. If it is a bacterial infection, such as strep throat, the child can actually get re-infected with the same germs that made them get sick the first time. In this case, changing the toothbrush protects both the child and the rest of the family.
Experiment with essential oils
Essential oils such as eucalyptus or oregano oil are easy to use immunostimulants that have been proven to have antibacterial and immunomodulating capabilities. You can then try to diffuse them in your interior to improve the natural defenses of the whole family. Eucalyptus oil has an energizing effect and essential oil of food grade oregano can be added to meals to improve their taste and also to strengthen the child’s immune system.
Stomach health is very important
The gut microbiota or stomach flora are complex communities of microorganisms that live inside the stomach. These microorganisms protect the digestive tract and play an important role in the child’s immune system. In children and also in adults, when the bacteria in the stomach are out of balance, the ability to fight infections is impaired and the frequency of colds and flu can suddenly increase.
Probiotics are a supplement that contains live bacteria. When a child takes probiotics, these probiotics have the ability to increase the amount of good bacteria in the stomach. A supplement that contains lactobacillus, bifidobacterium and acidophilus is a great start.
Yogurt contains live bacteria like this. However, supermarkets are saturated with yogurts of different types and most of these yogurts contain huge amounts of sugars. The best thing to do then is to opt for a simple Greek yogurt instead of a yogurt with different fruits or flavors that contain a lot of sugar. And to give a little taste to plain yogurt, you can add real fruit like strawberries, apples or pears, depending on what the child likes.
It all starts with food
Food and diet are perhaps the most important factors when it comes to keeping a child’s immune system healthy. And fresh, nutritious food is the key. It is important to avoid processed and packaged foods as much as possible. These foods include crisps, chocolate, cakes and cookies. These foods should be given to the child only as occasional treats.
So for example, summer, kids and sugar seem to be an inevitable combination of pool parties, barbecues and summer camps. However, sugar alters the microbiome in an extreme way by nourishing pathogenic bacteria that love sweetness. And this decreases the amount of good bacteria that boost immunity. Give your child a microbiome booster by offering them fruit instead of cakes and sweets or at least sweets made with natural sweeteners like stevia. As a dessert instead of chocolate, you can offer the child fruits rich in vitamin C and antioxidants such as oranges and blueberries.
Focus on providing your child with fresh fruits and vegetables, poultry, meat, fish, whole grains, legumes, eggs and if the child has no allergies – nuts and seeds. It is also important to give your child water instead of fruit juices and syrups. Fruit juices and syrups can be suppressive for the immune system and can also cause inflammation and dysbiosis, among others.
Powerful foods to strengthen the child’s immune system
- Vegetables. Leafy green vegetables are a must for the growing child. Green vegetables are immunostimulatory foods that help DNA repair itself. Green vegetables contain important antioxidants that help build the immune system in children. Spinach and fenugreek are rich sources of iron, folic acid, and zinc. These two hardwoods are also rich in vitamins. You should try to persuade your child to eat vegetables to strengthen his immune system. You can give your child vegetables in different forms such as raw, grilled or stir-fried.
- Eggs, lean meats and protein. To build a child’s immune system, you need to provide macronutrients such as protein including milk protein, eggs, and animal protein. Cooked, poached, scrambled or omelette – eggs are superfoods – a rich source of protein. Egg yolk is a storehouse of vital vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Lean meats and poultry also contain large amounts of zinc and important minerals that help fight infection and increase white blood cells. For vegetarians, pod vegetables are an excellent source of protein.
- Garlic has antibacterial and antiviral properties. Garlic also stimulates the production of white cells inside the body and it is also a powerful antioxidant. Garlic also helps prevent colds and flu symptoms.
- Oats and barley. Whole grains are a very healthy option. Whole grains are rich in beta-glucan, a kind of fiber that has antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. Fiber also helps cleanse the intestines and prevent constipation.
- Carrots help eyesight and also fight infections. Carrots are an excellent source of carotene, hence their bright orange color. This compound helps the functioning of the immune system and the mucous membrane of the respiratory voices and intestinal tract by making it more difficult for bacteria to enter the blood stream and cause disease. So do not hesitate to include carrots in your child’s menu.
- Mushrooms are said to be the second best thing after chicken in terms of taste and nutrients. Fungi are a major source of minerals such as zinc for the immune system. And you already know that zinc helps the production of white cells that fight infections and can strengthen a child’s immune system. Mushrooms help fight common colds, the flu, and other infections. The different types of fungi have various antibacterial, antiviral and anti-tumor effects. So the next time you offer your child a nutritional menu, try a mushroom sandwich, for example. You can add mushrooms to soups, meat salads and mixed vegetables.
- Nuts should be your favorite snack for your child. Nuts contain a lot of proteins, minerals and vitamins and they are also rich in antioxidants like omega-3, zinc and vitamin E. Offer your child all the variants of nuts: almonds, pistachios, grapes , dried figs etc. These are great ways to build the system
- Fish help build the immune system and it is also food for the brain. Fish contains Omega-3 and also other fatty acids, a must to increase the activity of blood cells. Oily fish like salmon and tuna are great options for children.
- If the fruit you offer to your child is limited to apples, bananas and mangoes, you can also add berries, melons, pomegranates, peaches, etc. Remember that the darker and richer the color of the fruit, the better. Fruits contain antioxidants, fodder and many other hidden benefits. Make sure the child eats at least one serving of fruit every day to be happy and healthy!