4 Steps You Can Take to Strengthen Your Little One’s Immunity
Is your child constantly catching a cold? Does your child have runny nose regularly? Or does your child suffer from stomach upset a little too often? Here are some steps you can take to strengthen your child’s immune system.
Step 1: Start them on a healthy diet
If your kid’s diet includes food additives, preservatives, and tons of sugar, then their immune system will take a hit. Limit their intake of these ‘bad’ food and increase the serving of ‘good’ food like veggies, fruits, nuts, and milk. You’ll find a healthier, happier child in no time.
Step 2: Keep them calm and carry on
Your little one’s body has the same reaction to stress as adults do: their cortisol and adrenaline rises, lowering their immune systems’ response. If we know children well, they’ll probably be running, skipping, dancing, and spinning around most of the time. Ensure that they have ample rest time and ample sleep, because a break for them means a break for their immune system.
Step 3: Be pro Probiotics & Prebiotics
There are different types of probiotics for different health conditions. Each species has many different strains and getting the right ones is essential to balancing our bodily systems. Probiotics are harmless, friendly bacteria that can be found in our guts that play a central role in supporting the body’s defence system1. How do you ensure that your little one’s gut is filled with these helpful bacteria? Simply introduce Yogurt, Kefir, Tempeh and Miso into your kid’s diet. These are good sources of probiotics. However, probiotics is a ‘live microorganisms’, it needs to be constantly fed and this is where prebiotics come in.
Prebiotics are mainly made from undigested fibre that is fermented by the time it reaches the large colon and serve as food for probiotics. A healthy level of probiotics is required to defend the body against potentially harmful bacteria. Thereby, foods containing prebiotics provide a natural boost for your child’s immune system.
There are various species and strains of prebiotic and probiotic which determine its benefits. Working together hand-in-hand, combination of prebiotic and probiotic will help to set the right gut environment to support the body defence system and modulate the composition of the gut microbiota to reflect that of a healthy child.4,5
Step 4: Incorporate foods rich in vitamins and minerals
The most common nutrients to build up your little one’s immune system are vitamin D and zinc.2,3 You can start to introduce tuna and cheese into their diet to give them a good dose of vitamin D. For zinc, you can turn to meat like steak or a mid-day snack of roasted almonds.
1. Isolauri E, Majamaa IF, Arvola T, Rantala I, Virtanen E, Arvilommi H. Lactobacillus casei strain GG reverses increased intestinal permeability induced by cow milk in suckling rats. Gastroenterology 1993;105:1643–50. Borchers, A. T., Selmi, C., Meyers, F. J., Keen, C. L., & Gershwin, E. M. (2009). Probiotics and immunity. Journal of Gastroenterology, 44, 26–46. doi: DOI 10.1007/s00535-008-2296-0
2. Mirzakhani, H., Al-Garawi, A., Weiss, S. T., & Litonjua, A. A. (2015). Vitamin D And The Development Of Allergic Disease: How Important Is It? Clinical & Experimental Allergy, 45(1), 114–125. https://doi: 10.1111/cea.12430
3. Roy SK, Behrens RH, Haider R, Tomkins AM. Impact of zinc supplementation on intestinal permeability in Bangladeshi children with acute diarrhoea and persistent diarrhoea syndrome. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr 1992;15:289-96.
4. Michaelis LW, et al. Allergy, EAACI 2016 abstract book, 2016. 71(S102): p3-94.
5. Haahtela T, et al. World Allergy Organization Journal. 2013; 6(1): 3.