6 Effective Ways To Boost Immunity in Children
Nothing about the past two years has been normal but now thanks to the vaccines, we’re finally going back to that pre-pandemic life. While adults have access to the vaccine, kids below the age of 12, however, are yet to get their dose and with schools reopening, their best defence against any illnesses right now is their own immune system. This is why parents are frantically looking for answers on how to boost the immune system quickly for their kids. Luckily, there are immunity booster foods, supplements and certain lifestyle habits that help build the body’s defence system. Scroll down to find out the best immune boosters that can help keep your child healthy.
How Does The Immune System Develop?
Immunity starts developing even before birth, and builds with age which is why immunity-boosting foods and vitamins are needed to help the child build their natural defence system. During the last trimester of pregnancy, the mother’s antibodies get passed on to the unborn infants through the placenta. After birth, as the baby gets exposed to various pathogens, the body creates blueprints to fight them. The first exposure to bacteria is in the birth canal. This triggers the preliminary immune response. Those born via cesarean are not exposed to bacteria in the same way and may thus have a delayed initial immune development. As all infants have weak immune systems in the initial few months of life, mothers’ breast milk provides them with unique immunity. This is because breast milk contains antibodies.
The child’s immunity is then further strengthened via vaccinations. These provide mild exposure to certain pathogens, to aid the immune system in designing antibodies against them.
Functions Of The Immune System
The immune system is a complex biological system made up of various cells, organs and proteins in the body that work together to eliminate outside invaders. This can be anything from viruses, bacteria, fungus, or toxins.
When exposed to threats, your immune system produces specific antibodies (soldiers) that help disable the infection. It also allows for faster, easier production of antibodies in case the body is exposed to a similar threat in the future.
Factors That Strengthen Immunity In Children
As the child grows, various factors help strengthen their immunity. A strong immune system has the capacity to fight various diseases and reduce recurrent infections. There are various factors that can help support the immune system:
1. Adequate nutrition:It is vital to ensure that the child is eating enough, and meeting their daily calorie and protein requirements. This can be met by broadly ensuring three main meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner) with two/three snacks throughout the day.
Small children are not able to take large quantities at a time, so small and frequent meals are very important.
2. Variety in the diet:Anti-inflammatory immune-boosting foods are a great way to boost a child’s immunity. Even as early as 6-7 months of age, it is advisable to ensure variety in the foods (e.g. different fruit and vegetable purees) provided to the infant. It’s vital to include all food groups in their diet.
This, in turn, will ensure adequate amounts of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals are being consumed; which are vital for optimum immune function.
The different food groups are:
- Dairy- milk, yogurt, cheese etc.
- Protein-rich foods- meat, poultry, eggs, lentils, nuts etc.
3. Eat foods rich in immunity-supporting nutrientsThere is a wide variety of immunity booster foods available on the market. You can also take it up a notch and increase vitamins and minerals in the body by opting for supplements to boost the immune system as well.
Vitamin CIt plays a very important role in the production of certain immune cells.
Foods rich in vitamin C are Indian gooseberries (amla), citrus fruits, strawberries etc. Nyumi Core Immunity Gummies are also rich in vitamin C and other potent ingredients to help boost the immune system.
Vitamin DIt plays a role in enhancing the ability of the immune cells to capture pathogens. The body has the ability to make vitamin D from sunlight when it is exposed to it.
Foods rich in vitamin D are oily fish, meat and egg yolks.
Vitamin AIt plays a role in regulating a particular type of immune cell: NK immune cells.
Foods rich in vitamin A are dairy, eggs and oily fish.
ZincIt plays a vital role in the growth and development of immune cells.
Foods rich in zinc are nuts, seeds, soybean and eggs.
SeleniumIt has antioxidant properties that help lower oxidative stress in your body.
Foods rich in Selenium are Brazil nuts, eggs, shellfish and chicken.
4. Adequate sleep:Children should get restful sleep. This helps the body to repair and eliminate toxins. The following is recommended:
- Infants under 1 year: 12-16 hours of sleep
- Children 1-2 years old: 11 to 14 hours of sleep
- Children 3-5 years old: 10-13 hours of sleep
- Children 6-12 years old: 9-12 hours of sleep
- Children 13-18 years old: 8-10 hours of sleep
5. Maintaining good hygiene:In an attempt to limit the spread of infections, the following is recommended:
- Washing hands before and after eating.
- Washing hands after using the washroom.
- Teaching young girls to wipe from front to back, after passing bowels or urinating.
- Very young infants should avoid coming in contact with sick people, chemicals, pollutants and cigarette smoke.
6. Maintaining a vaccination schedule:The vaccination schedule prescribed by the pediatrician should be followed, as it is planned. Following the prescribed schedule gives your child the best chance of developing a strong, healthy, and robust immune system.
- If the child is given the vaccine too early, the body may have inadequate amounts of antibodies.
- If the vaccination is given too late, there is an increased risk of the child getting infected.