How to support your children’s immune system through diet.
As we start to get towards colder weather we think about how to protect our children from the numerous coughs and colds that go round each winter.
Including these foods in your family diet can help the immune system stay strong over the winter.
Vitamin C rich foods
It’s well known that Vitamin C is an antioxidant, and this can help keep a strong immune system.
Include Vitamin C foods every day, because it’s water soluble so the body doesn’t store it up.
Did you know some vegetables have more Vitamin C than fruits? Good sources are as well as vegetables such as red and yellow peppers, cauliflower, tomatoes and broccoli. Also give your toddler lots of fruits like melon, strawberries, oranges, kiwi fruit, and mango.
Focus on five a day
To help your toddler stay well this winter increase the amount of fresh veggies and fruits in their diet. Vegetables not only provide vital vitamins and minerals, but they are also a source of fibre.
Look after gut health
Around 70% of our immune cells are in the digestive system.
And the trillions of microbes in our gut are interacting with this immune system all the time, sending message about invaders, inflammation and influencing how the immune system responds to threats.
Improve gut health through a wider, more varied diet of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, healthy proteins, and pulses for fibre to feed the microbes.
Zinc is found in meat and fish, seeds and nuts. It promotes a healthy immune system because it supports the immune cells which fight off viruses, as well as supporting clearing away broken or old cells.
Get the ZZZs
Whilst Emma and I at The Gentle Touch know very well it’s not always possible to get a toddler to sleep through the night, we do recommend setting up as much opportunity for sleep as possible.
This could include adjusting routines, looking at healthy nutrition and adapting family processes.
Sleep is important to aid the body in fighting off colds and coughs.
When we eat a lot of free sugars, added to foods like yoghurts, sweets or biscuits, the glucose in our blood can compete with Vitamin C to get into our cells. So to make the most of the Vitamin C from our diet it’s best to reduce these kinds of sugary foods.
The sunshine vitamin is sadly quite lacking in the autumn and winter months in the UK. Vitamin D is essential for our immune system as well as building healthy bones and teeth. Everyone needs to supplement in the winter according to the NHS as we can’t get vitamin D from food, only the sunshine.
Iron foods to support the immune system
We need iron rich foods to help transport oxygen around the body, for growth as well as immunity. Iron rich foods include green leafy veg, red meat, poultry and nuts and seeds.
Anna is a Nutritional Therapist working with babies and children in Bristol and online. Weaning Consultations, and 1:1 Children’s Health appointments available to support the whole family.