Nourish - 5 Ways To Naturally Boost Your Child’s Immune System
Today’s blog post focuses on 5 Ways To Naturally Boost Your Child’s Immune System. Now that we’re approaching the “Back to School” time of the year, the cold and flu season is just around the corner. Without a doubt, this is a time of year that parents know all too well.
Now is an important time to focus on making sure your child’s immune system is strong and healthy as they start a new school year.
But where do you start when it comes to keeping your child healthy so they have a properly functioning immune system?
Before the first runny nose or sore throat makes its unwanted appearance, let’s dig into our 5 Ways To Naturally Boost Your Child’s Immune System.
No. 1 – Nutrition
The first step, the very foundation of having a strong immune system is nutrition. I cannot stress enough the importance of consuming high quality, whole foods. The benefits can be seen and felt almost immediately!
Focus on a healthy diet rich in:
- whole grains
- high-quality proteins – legumes, beans and pulses; nuts and seeds; eggs; fish and high-quality organic meat
- fermented foods – sauerkraut, water kefir, milk kefir, yoghurt, kombucha, sourdough bread etc.
- essential fatty acids – fish oils/algae oil/coconut oils/hemp seeds and their oil) is the way to go.
A primarily plant-based diet rich in these foods means you will provide your child with the nutrients it needs. They help boost their immune system with nourishing vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and provide overall nourishment.
If you need some help in this area, check out my previous blog posts:
No. 2 – Focus on gut health
A healthy immune system starts in the gut.
Probiotics are the friendly helpful bacteria that live in our intestinal tracts. These friendly bacteria are essential for the body to function properly and maintain our overall health.
They protect our digestive tracts, help us to digest food, assist in toxin clearance, and shield us from invading bacteria and viruses.
Unfortunately, when this good bacterial balance becomes imbalanced in children, their ability to fend off infections is lowered. Consequently, this leaves them prone to catching whatever nasty cold or virus is going around.
What causes an imbalance?
Most often their imbalances are caused by poor diet choices. For example, diets with high sugar intake, low fibre foods, processed or additive-laden foods. In addition to that, they are likely not consuming enough good bacteria supporting foods in the diet.
Additionally, lifestyle and environmental factors also affect their friendly bacteria levels. This includes stress, both mental and physical, pollution. secondary smoking, antibiotic use and not enough sleep.
How can I help rebalance their good bacteria levels?
Foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, natural yoghurt and kombucha are absolutely fantastic to improve gut health.
Depending on the age of your child, you may need to go about the introduction of probiotic and prebiotic foods differently.
Add milk kefir and natural yoghurt to smoothies or consume as they are.
Replace soda with kombucha and water kefir. Check out our fridge section for a selection.
Easily add fermented veggies to a small salad for example, or give them as snacks. The fizzy nature of fermented veg can be a real selling point to small kiddies!
If you’re interested to know more, here’s a previous blog I wrote on the benefits of vegetable fermentation and a recipe.
However, given that the majority of young children may not be too exhilarated at the idea of consuming fermented cabbage, especially if they’ve never had it before, there is an alternative.
I’d recommend starting children on a probiotic supplement containing lactobacillus and bifidobacteria strains instead. (Or as well if you’ve managed to get them into it!). Read on to point 5 for more details on child supplementation.
No. 3 – Sleep
Getting back on a school-year schedule can be a real struggle. For this reason, ensuring that your child gets enough rest will really help their immune system stay in tiptop shape.
Getting enough sleep is vitally important for children as it directly impacts their mental and physical development.
Sleep is the time our bodies take to repair and rejuvenate, keeping our immune system boosted.
During sleep, we produce proteins known as cytokines. Our body relies on these to fight infection, illness, and stress. Too little sleep can impact the number of cytokines on hand meaning we’re more likely to catch any colds or viruses going around.
The amount of sleep a child needs varies depending on the individual and certain factors. Generally, however, it ranges from between 9 and 15 hours of sleep per day.
No. 4 – Help calm stress and anxiety
Stress over a new school year is normal. Maybe it manifests itself as tummy aches or digestive problems; maybe it’s mood disruptions or irritability. Perhaps it’s an inability to sleep through the night. No matter what it is, ultimately the body understands this as stress.
Children’s bodies have the same response to stress that adults do. Their cortisol and adrenaline rise. When this elevation in stress hormones is sustained, their immune system’s response is lowered.
Encourage stress outlets like socializing, sport, music or any kind of creative play to help keep your child stress free and happy. Ultimately, this is essential to their health and wellbeing.
For additional support, Californian poppy is an excellent herb for the nervous system. Think of it as a gentle balancer to the emotions. It’s a calming remedy for times of stress and is suitable for both children and adults. It helps to reduce anxiety and tension in the day and induces sleep at night without side effects of drowsiness.
No. 5 – Supplement
Here are my top 6 supplement recommendations for supporting your child’s immune system:
1. Pukka Herbs Elderberry Syrup
Pukka Herbs Elderberry syrup contains elderberry, manuka honey, trikatu and thyme to help alleviate the symptoms of coughs, colds and flu.
The herbs in this syrup have long been used to help support the respiratory system and seasonal health.
It’s suitable for adults and children from 2 and up.
Even if your child doesn’t have a cough yet but maybe feels something coming on, this is a great remedy to take to help knock it on the head.
2. Viridian Viridikid Liquid Vitamin D Drops
Viridian Viridikid liquid vitamin D is a pleasant orange flavoured children’s vitamin D that comes in an easy to use dropper bottle. It delivers 400iu of Vitamin D3 per drop (0.5ml).
Not only does Vitamin D support bones, teeth and muscle health; it also supports the maintenance of a healthy immune system. This makes it a very important vitamin when your kids are heading back to school. For more on vitamin D check out our blog post ‘What’s the Scoop on: Vitamin D.’
Studies in Ireland have revealed that low vitamin D status and vitamin D deficiency are widespread in the population of Ireland. As a result, I would advise that you get a blood test done before supplementing with Vitamin D to check your child’s levels. That way you know how much they should take. They could need a higher dosage than generally recommended if they’re already deficient.
As mentioned earlier, gut health is very important. A child’s healthy microflora will closely resemble that of an adult, but due to their smaller size, children need much smaller quantities of the same bacteria.
With this in mind, supplementing with friendly bacteria suitable for children is a great idea.
The intake of these friendly bacteria will help:
- limit the influence of unfavourable bacteria
- aid absorption of minerals
- promote regular bowel movements
- support their immune system
- Garden of LifeMicrobiome Organic Kids+
- Wild NutritionChild’s Multi-Strain Biotic 90G Powder
- OptiBac ProbioticsFor Babies & Children
- Terra Nova Green Child-Friendly Microflora
- Udo’s infant blend
- Udo’s Children’s blend
For small children aged between 0 and 5 years old, Udo’s’ choice have an Infants blend powder which can easily be added to formula or any liquid as part of a meal. It’s a really easy way to add in probiotics and ensures your kids will receive a minimum of 3 billion viable/active cells and 6 strains of healthy bacteria.
For children aged between 5 and 15 years, a children’s blend is available also from Udo’s choice. Within this formula, there are 5 Billion viable/active cells and 7 strains of healthy bacteria.
4. Terranova Green Child Sneaky Greens
Terranova Green Child Sneaky Greens contains a huge variety of freeze-dried fruit, veg, superfoods, probiotics, algae and more to help boost your child’s nutritional intake.
Easily add it to a smoothie or made into a shake. This product contains no artificial colours or flavours, and no added refined sugar. It is just a pure wholefood drink that’s suitable for children aged 4-12.
5. Mag365 Kids Magnesium Supplement
Try offering Mag365 Kids Magnesium Supplement to your child in the evening if they’re struggling to sleep or feeling stressed.
Magnesium is simply amazing. It’s an essential mineral in the body and is used in over 300 reactions on a daily basis. Magnesium is responsible for helping the body to minimize our response to stressful stimuli, get rid of excess tension and to help the body transition into a restful state.
Mag356 Kids contains:
- vitamins B1, B6 and C
- vitamin D3 and K2
for growth, relaxation, concentration and immunity.
Importantly, this powdered supplement contains no sugar or artificial sweeteners. Instead, it’s sweetened with a natural passion fruit flavour and Stevia. It’s recommended for children between 4 and 10.
6. Children’s Multivitamin and Mineral Formula
Multivitamin and mineral supplements are great for giving additional support to your child’s diet when taken alongside a well-balanced nutrient-rich diet. They help ensure those vitamin and mineral levels are well topped-up and maintained to help avoid any nutritional deficiencies.
I’m not suggesting that stuffing your child full of vitamin pills is the solution the good health, but that being said, a good diet isn’t always easy to maintain in a child! Supplements are just one tool to help support your child’s healthy immune system.
A good overall multivitamin and mineral can help top up their levels as they head into a new year.
Note: If you’re supplementing with a multi then there’s little to no need to supplement with a child’s vitamin D also. Always check their vitamin D levels before supplementing with additional vitamin D.
You’re not always going to be able to keep your kids from catching what’s going around, even when you boost their immune system. However, do have faith that your efforts can at the least help to decrease the severity and duration of the illness should they catch one.
And that sums up our 5 Ways To Naturally Boost Your Child’s Immune System.
Any questions? Drop into your local Nourish store to chat with our expert team and explore our full range of foods, supplements and skincare. You can also find our full product range in our online store.
*Please note that while we are knowledgeable about our products and nutrition, this blog should never be a substitute for medical advice and attention.
Please remember that you should always obtain the all-clear from your doctor before starting any new supplement plan or diet if you’re on any medication.