Promoting a Healthy Immune System in Children
Promoting a healthy immune system in children can be easy if you begin focusing on improving this from very young. When I say very young, I mean from the day that your child is born. Unfortunately your very young infant cannot build its own immune system or protect him/herself. While your child is still young, he/she is still very vulnerable to infection from the outside world. Although they cannot help themselves, you as a parent can help them build their immune system from infants and later on, teach them how to look after it, to keep them strong and healthy throughout their lives.
The first step as a parent in building your child’s healthy immune system is to breast-feed. Not only, does your breast milk contain all the protein, sugar, fat, vitamins and minerals that your baby needs to grow, it also includes antibodies, white blood cells, enzymes and immunologic substances that strengthen your baby’s immune system. These substances keep your baby healthy and free from diseases while you breast feed, but also build his/her immune system to have these protecting effects even long after there weaned from your breast milk.
Your breast milk contains 90 different oligosaccharides that can form more than 900 different chemical structures, which enable your baby’s body to prevent bad bacteria (infection-causing bacteria) from attaching to their gut wall. Also, the growth of good bacteria (probiotics) through your baby’s ingestion of your breast milk, decreases the growth of bad bacteria within your their gut.
Breast-feeding also plays a role in the prevalence of allergies within your child.
It has been said that your milk as a mother, contains immune components, which protect your child against some allergic diseases.
Between four and six months is the recommended time you should breast-feed your infant. After six months, it is recommended that you begin introducing solids into their diet. Here are some foods and vitamins that are important to strengthening their immune system after being weaned off your breast milk. These will help them fight of viruses d bad bacteria, keeping healthy:
– Fruits such as oranges, grapefruit, guavas, cantaloupe, kiwis and papayas are all fruits that are high in Vitamin C. We all know that Vitamin C is important to ward off a cold or flu or to speed up our recovery, when we do come down with such a virus. This is because it has immune-boosting effects and is needed to help your immune system. It helps to increase your child’s production of immune-fighting white blood cells and antibodies, which in turn helps to prevent viruses and harmful bacteria from getting into their system.
As an infant, your child needs at least 150 mg of Vitamin C daily to keep them healthy.
As a toddler and even a preschooler, your child needs at least 250 mg of Vitamin C daily.
To make sure that your infant or toddler receives all the Vitamin C he/ she needs, mash a variety of these fruits or cut them up into a wholesome fruit salad for them to enjoy.
– Fish, eggs, wild rice, beans, flax seeds and canola oil are all connected by one common fat. They are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, which is important for a child and adult general health, as well as their immune system.
Unfortunately, yours or your infant’s body does not naturally produce omega 3 fatty acids, making them essential to include in their diet.
Scrambled eggs are always an easy-to-eat food for infants and cooking these with canola oil, will provide your child with these needed fats.
Flax seeds are great when ground and sprinkled over their food. They are also rich in fiber, keeping your child’s intestines healthy and regular.
– Yoghurt, cheese, juice, buttermilk and ice-cream (yes, I said ice-cream) are all great sources of probiotics. Probiotics make up the healthy bacteria in yours and your child’s gut and should be taken daily. These healthy bacteria regulate your child’s internal immune system by regulating their intestines. Often, when antibiotics are taken, this healthy bacteria in your child is destroyed along with the bad bacteria. When this occurs, it is even more vital to insure your child is getting enough probiotics in his/her diet to rebalance the good bacteria.
– Butternut, sweet potato, green leafy vegetables, cantaloupe and apricots are high in Vitamin A. It is needed in developing your child’s cells as well as the continuous growth of these cells. Vitamin A also helps to regulate the response that your child’s immune system has to infection.
Mashed sweet potato with butternut makes for a great infant’s meal.
Although Vitamin A promotes and string immune system and does need to be included in your child’s diet, it is important not too overdose on this vitamin. It dos not get easily flushed out of the system and can cause skin changes, headaches and in extreme doses, liver damage.
Although there have only been a few foods with certain essential vitamins, minerals and fat recommended, a balanced, nutritious diet filled with all the vitamins and minerals is utterly important to your child’s immune system health.
As a parent, it is important to follow certain do’s and don’ts when it comes to your child’s health:
– Don’t allow your child to eat too much sugar as it decreases the effectiveness of their white blood cells, and so decreasing their immune system strength.
– Don’t give your child polyunsaturated fats found in vegetable oils, sunflower oil, corn oil. These are seen to lower ones immune system. Your children will ingest such oils out of the home, so at least try to steer clear of using these, in your home.
– Don’t allow your child to become overweight, as this will put strain on their immune system as it is working overtime.
– Do keep your child active and exercising regularly. If had been proven that exercise boosts your immune system, but if overdone, can actually reduce your immune system by getting you down.
– Do wash their hands regularly and teach them the importance of washing their own. This will prevent many germs, and infections, helping the immune system.
Do allow them to get a full nights rest or at least sleep in on the weekend.
Your children, still having vulnerable immune systems, as well as being surrounded by other children everyday, are very susceptible to allergies, viruses and bacteria. It is important by helping to keep their healthy immune system functioning at its optimum level to ward off such problems. Following the dos and don’ts and providing them with the correct nutrition, you can help their healthy immune system fully develop.