I’m back with another post in my Immune Boosting Tips for Kids series.
In Part 1, I talked about some of the important vitamins and nutrients that will help your child’s “army” (a.k.a. immune system) prepare for war.
Today in Part 2, I’m going to tell you about some other foods that will promote a healthy immune system.
Other Immune Boosting Foods
I’ve talked about how important it is to eat a varied diet in order to give your body everything it needs to be able to fend off the bad guys. However, there are a few specific foods/food groups that play an important role in keeping kids healthy:
Garlic has many amazing health properties, both preventative and healing. From an immune system perspective, garlic is a surface immune stimulant – meaning that it helps the body to resist those bugs. Garlic also has antibiotic properties – killing off bacteria, viruses and parasites. But unlike doctor prescribed antibiotics, garlic kills off the bad guys while supporting the development of healthy bacteria. Ideally, you should feed your kids a clove of garlic three times a day and raw is best (cooking depletes beneficial nutrients). Chopping or crushing stimulates the process that releases the important phytochemicals in garlic, so use fresh and let sit for 5-10 minutes before using to get the most benefit. Of course, most kids aren’t going to just eat a clove of garlic on its own, so here are some easy (and yummy) ideas for adding it to food.
Did you know that 70-80% of our immune system is found in our gut? An important reason to make sure that there is a healthy amount of beneficial bacteria (lactobacillus or bifidobacteria) to help things function well. Probiotics can be found in fermented foods such as yoghurt, kefir, unpasturized sauerkraut or kimchi, organic miso or tempeh, and naturally fermented pickles. If these foods are not part of your child’s regular diet, you will want to consider supplementation (feel free to contact me if you are unsure about dosage).
Most people know that protein intake is important, but rarely do they know why. Protein plays an important role in many of the body’s functions, including a healthy immune system. Amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein, are also the building blocks of the immune system – they help create white blood cells and antibodies. Make sure your kids are getting lots of high-quality protein every day. Eggs, fish, meat and dairy are commonly known high-protein foods, but there are many excellent plant-based sources of protein as well such as quinoa, beans, buckwheat, oats, avocado, nuts and seeds, fermented soy products and even a number of vegetables such as broccoli and leafy greens.
It may take a little more planning to incorporate some of these foods into your child’s diet, but the benefits of a healthy, cold and flu-free child are worth it. Also think of it as an opportunity to expose your child to some different and interesting foods that they may not have tried before – you may be surprised at what they like.
In Part 3 I talk about some lifestyle factors that influence immune system performance.