Runny noses and disturbed sleep. Tummy bugs and fevers.
Any parent knows how awful it is when their child falls sick. It is even more distressing when children catch illnesses that are more serious, such as the Hand, Foot and Mouth disease (HFMD), which saw an increase in Malaysia this year. But other than making sure you teach your child hygienic practices like proper hand washing, how else can you boost your children’s defences as best as you can?
While it is virtually impossible to germproof your child, here are 8 ways to improve your child’s immune system to help prevent those colds, flus and illnesses.
1. Eat a Rainbow
Encourage your children to eat as colourful as possible, and we don’t obviously don’t mean a rainbow cake!
The more colourful fruit and vegetables they eat, the more wide variety of different vitamins and minerals they are getting. Red, yellow and orange hues are particularly rich in Vitamin C and carotenoids. These phytonutrients are not only antioxidants, they enhance immune response and help the body create more white blood cells which help us fight infections.
You can help them with their rainbow diet by offering smoothies, healthy fruits as snacks or by incorporating them into their main meals in fun and yummy ways! (Baked and crinkley sweet potato fries, anyone?)
2. The Power of Yoghurt!
Maintaining a healthy gut is also important for children as these gut bacteria protect their digestive tract and help control their immune system. It determines whether or not your child fights off a cold virus, so it is a good idea to boost their health gut bacteria!
You can help your children do this by giving them some probiotics – and this can be easily done with the live and active cultures in good old yoghurt. However, opt for plain or Greek yoghurt rather than picking the sugar-laden ones typically marketed at kids – you can add sweetness with honey and fruit.
3. Don’t Give Unnecessary Antibiotics
Yes, antibiotics can be lifesaving, but taking too much antibiotics can mean getting rid of your child’s bad and good bacteria. This relates to the second point above, keeping their gut health healthy. Researchers are finding that when we mess with our body’s good bacteria, it can increase our risk for chronic illness.
Recent studies show overuse of antibiotics can also impact your children’s long-term health, so it is important for parents and doctors to reserve antibiotics use only for illnesses that require their use.
4. To Bed, To Bed
We are now aware of the huge importance sleep is to adults, but this is doubly so for children! Boost your children’s sleep time, because sleep deprivation can make them more susceptible to illness. A lack of sleep will suppress their immune system function, and decrease their body’s ability to fight colds or bacterial infections.
How much sleep does your child need? The Sleep Council says that while there are no hard and fast rules, the general guide is that toddlers need around 12 hours of sleep a night, and children aged three to six need 10 – 12 hours. Seven to 12-year-olds need 10 to 11 hours, and teenagers need around 8 – 9 hours.
5. Cut the Sugar
We know that children love sweets, but sugar has been described as a toxin by health experts. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition also reports evidence suggesting that sugar lowers phagocytic activity, and phagocytes are cells that protect us by absorbing bacteria and other foreign substances.
So try to only reserve sugary snacks as rare treats at birthday parties, and try to introduce healthier snacks such as fruit, frozen yoghurts or popcorn.
6. Eat more Oily Fish
Many a good thing has been said about Omega-3 fatty acids and the health benefits found in oily fish such as salmon, tuna and mackerel. Tucking into these oily fish not only boosts brain development, the high levels of essential fatty acids have also been found to help improve immunity in children.
Your child not a fan of fish? Try making yummy fish pies or fish croquettes which can be a real hit with kids!
7. Keep Stress and Smoke Away
Stress can impact your child’s immunity, so make sure you take time to include quiet, relaxation or mindfulness in your child’s life. Love, laughter and lots of hugs and cuddles can also enhance feelings of positivity and security, so feel free to be generous with these!
Keep cigarettes and smoke away from children, research has shown that smoke affects their immune systems and can result in them getting more frequent infections.
8. Aid With Supplements
Supplements are great to complement your child’s routine and diet. When your child’s immune system is a bit run down and they seem to always fall sick, there are a variety of supplements that can support the immune system well. Besides yoghurts and fish oils previously mentioned, there are also zinc, vitamin C and vitamin D supplements.
Parents can also try Chewies Immunolicious, a great tasting gummy for children ages two and up that will feel more like a treat. Each gummy comes loaded with 50mg of Wellmune®, a natural yeast beta glucan that can trigger human immune defences to protect the body. Wellmune® is clinically-proven to safely enhance the immune system and kills foreign intruders without stimulating immune system, immune boosters or stimulators by activating innate immune body cells.
Kids only need to take 2 a day to keep health threats away, but with a soft, chewy texture and three yummy flavours – Orange, Mango and Strawberry -this is likely to go down well!
Available at Guardian, Watsons, Caring, Vitacare, Aeon Wellness and all participating pharmacies. More information, head to the Chewies Facebook page here.
This is a sponsored post presented by Chewies.