Tips For Boosting Kids Immunity

February 14, 2022 6 min read

With Autumn just around the corner and the now kids back at school, it is a good time to start focusing on building your child’s immunity just in time for winter.  Children are much more susceptible to colds and flus when their nutrition is compromised and by addressing a few key areas you will be well on the way to keeping them healthy during the colder months.

Get some zinc on their forks

Zinc is one of the most widely used nutrients in the body and is especially important when it comes to supporting growth & development.  In the immune system it plays an integral role in helping white blood cells fight off bacteria and viruses.  It is also utilised by the digestive system to support breaking down protein and carbohydrates in the diet and may be why your child is a fussy eater, as zinc deficiency impairs their taste and smell receptors encouraging them to eat more bland tasting foods.

Zinc can be found in a variety of foods such as meat, liver, seafood, eggs, nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains.  However, some of these food sources contain naturally occurring compounds called phytates that affect zinc’s bioavailability making it harder for the body to absorb it.  This can be easily overcome by fermenting or sprouting certain foods.  Nuts and seeds are examples of this and can be easily pre-digested by soaking them in a little water and sea salt or sprouting them into micro-greens before adding them to meals. 

Natures natural vitamin – Vitamin D

Vitamin D enhances how the immune system responds to bacterial and viral infections by activating and deactivating specialised immune cells to respond appropriately.  It is synthesised by the action of sunlight on your skin and in children can sometimes be impaired with all the slip, slop & slapping of sunscreen we do.  It also gets more complicated as your genes also play a key role in how Vitamin D is absorbed and regulated in the body. 

Cod liver oil is a fantastic way to get more bang for your buck as it is a perfect combination of naturally occurring Vitamin D alongside Vitamin A.

Vitamin A helps maintains the health of your child’s gut cells which creates an important barrier to infection and supports immune function.  A Vitamin A deficiency was also found to be associated with recurrent respiratory infections and impaired tympanic membrane repair in the ear which can lead to chronic ear infections.   Cod liver oil can be purchased in a variety of child friendly flavours and requires small doses to produce an immune boosting effect. 

Vitamin C the colourful vitamin

Our bodies cannot make Vitamin C because we the lack the enzyme that converts glucose into Vitamin C.  Luckily it is available in most of our colourful fresh fruit and vegetables, but its quality is dependent on how the produce is grown, stored and prepared - with up to 100% destroyed during the cooking process.  One of the roles of Vitamin C in your body is to support both your innate (aka natural) and your adaptive (aka learnt) immunity and it has been extensively researched for its role in reducing the symptoms of the common cold. 

Vitamin C cannot be stored in the body for prolonged periods of time, so it is important to offer your child foods containing Vitamin C every 4-5 hours during the day.  Good sources include kiwifruit, red capsicums, carrots, strawberries, citrus fruit, tomatoes, Brussel sprouts & kale.  If getting plant foods into your child’s diet is tricky sometimes using good quality supplements is beneficial while your work towards improving their diet.

Rosehips are also a vitamin-C packed herb, which is sweet and delicious as an herbal tea and a favourite with our kids.

Infuse a tablespoon of rosehip for about 30 mins in hot water, allow to cool and enjoy with your kids after dinner! 

Iron the Haem-man

Iron’s primary role in the body is to make a red blood cell protein called haemoglobin which distributes oxygen to all your cells.  It is also crucial for the growth of your immune cells and the body has tightly regulated systems to control iron levels as pathogenic bacteria also utilise it for their growth & proliferation.

Haem-iron from animal sources is more efficiently absorbed in the body than plant forms, so ensuring your child has adequate protein in each meal will facilitate keeping iron levels optimal.  I often find in clinic that children can be fussy with eating protein, which often comes back to low zinc levels affecting their taste receptors.  An easy way to address this is to try introducing chicken livers into your child’s diet (I can hear you saying…. no way, my kids with NEVER eat liver). Try a good quality Pate (yum!) and can be served with rice crackers and/or vegetable sticks as a snack to provide good levels of iron, zinc, vitamin A and several B vitamins all in one food.  Frozen chicken liver can also easily be grated into mince meals to hide it or have your butcher mince some chicken liver into beef mice for “super sneaky bolognaise (recipe link at the end of this article). They’ll never know it’s in there, we promise!! 

The microbiome hero - Probiotics

For children embarking on a school environment for the first time, supporting their microbiome is paramount to reducing the incidence of infections.  There are numerous different probiotics species and phyla which vary in the roles they play within the body – so choosing a broad spectrum-probiotic isn’t necessarily the right fit for your child.  

The species Saccharomyces boulardii (SB) is a specific strain of an inactive yeast within the probiotic category that can help improve immune function in school children, as it prevents pathogenic bacteria from adhering to the gut wall and proliferating.  Lactobacillus rhamnosus (LGG) is another probiotic species that has a large body of evidence supporting its use in immune modulation and has been shown to reduce respiratory infections in children as well as down regulate inflammatory responses that cause allergies.  

Another way to get beneficial bacteria into your child’s diet is by using fermented foods.  Sauerkraut, fermented yoghurts, cultured butter and kvass drinks have all been used in traditional cultures for thousands of years prior to the introduction of probiotics.  They are safe to use, delicious and fun to make but good quality versions can also be easily purchased nowadays. 

I like to be practical when dealing with children so by introducing some of these tips now into your child’s diet you will be providing them with sound nutritional building blocks to ensure they go into winter fully armed to battle any infections that come their way. 

We also can offer some kids specific supplements, which can top your kids up if deficient, so here are some of our favourites. At Floralia, we offer a Muma + Kids drop-in clinic, so you’re welcome to give us a call or drop in for some advice specific to your family or book to see our paediatric naturopathic specialists. 

Some of our tried & tested favourite kids immune boosting supplements, which can top your kids up if deficient, so here are some of our favourites. 

Natrol Chewable Zinc that tastes great.

  • High Absorption Zinc supports a strong immune system utilizing an AbsorbSmart™ technology to bring you chelated Zinc with up to 20x greater absorption. Naturally flavoured in a delicious chewable tablet. Pineapple taste.

Zinc and C Powder, MediHerb or Metagenics

  • A tropical flavoured drink that can go into some water

  • A due boost of Zinc and C.

NAC (N-Acetyl Cysteine), the snot buster! MediHerb or Orthoplex

  • Berry or lemon lime flavour options available. Add to some juice or water. Antiviral and eliminates excel mucus, so great for ear nose and throat prone kids. NAC also replenishing the most powerful antioxidant in your body, glutathione and boosts brain health for kids.

Vitamin D Spray

  • A vanilla flavours quick spray into the mouth to boost vitamin D kevels and immune Vitamin D also helps kids take in calcium from food. Together, calcium and vitamin D build bones and keep them strong and can prevent “growing pains”. Vitamin D also plays a part in heart health and fighting infection including viral infection.

Echinacea & Elderberry Elixir by MediHerb- daily immune booster.

  • This is a Floralia inhouse speciality, which tastes like supercharged Ribena (sans the sugar!).

Kids Probiotics

  • We have a huge range of kid’s probiotics, in chewable, capsule or powder forms. Our winner of the best “family allrounder” is Orthoplex MultiGen Biotic.

Wishing you and your family and resilient and healthy immune season ahead.

With love,
Michele xx 

Check out this Super Duper Sneaky Bolognese

 

 



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