When children are small, parents want to protect them from every possible injury. Many would probably roll them in bubble wrap if it could keep them from skinned knees or broken bones.
But unhealthy germs are a stealthy opponent and bubble wrap won’t stop them. You quickly realize this once your children start interacting with others. Runny noses and coughs make it to your house in shockingly short order.
You can help avoid contact with germs by frequent handwashing and teaching your kids to avoid touching their face. But it’s nearly impossible to avoid all germs. So it’s important to do what you can to support your kids’ immune system.
Can you “boost” your immune system?
Go back and read that last sentence again. We said it’s important to support your kids’ immune system. We didn’t say boost your immune system. That’s because experts say it’s really not possible to “boost” your immune system.
The body’s immunity is a complex system with multiple layers of defense. It knows what it’s doing and jumps into action when things that are supposed to stay outside your body end up inside. When you sneeze, cough or blow your nose, that’s your immune system at work, expelling intruders!
Your job is to support its work through healthy choices.
Make good choices for immune support
The best way to support your kids’ immune system is to make choices that support their overall health and wellbeing. That means making sure they get plenty of exercise, get to bed on time and eat a diet balanced with key nutrients.
If your kids are in sports or playing outside any chance they get, they’re probably in good shape. And all that activity means they are likely happy to get to bed at a reasonable time at the end of the day.
As for their diet, let’s take a look at which nutrients provide key support for your immune system so you know what to put on your next shopping list.
Probiotics aren’t really a nutrient, but they do provide support to your immune system. You see, 70 percent of your immunity cells are located in your gut, which is also home to trillions of tiny good and bad bacteria.
The balance between those good and bad bacteria is a key part of your immunity. But it can easily get out of balance thanks to processed foods, occasional stress and environmental factors. Probiotics help restore the balance between good and bad bacteria.
Probiotics are found in fermented foods, like yogurt, pickles, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, miso and tempeh.
Put a day at the beach on your shopping list. Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, not only maintains strong bones and healthy muscle function, it helps support your immune system. One of the most popular ways to obtain it is through sun exposure.
But too much sun has its own drawbacks, so you can also look to food sources of vitamin D, including oily fish, mushrooms, milk, yogurt, and egg yolks. Your kids might like a nice mushroom quiche – especially if you chop the mushrooms so small they don’t know what they’re eating!
Zinc is an essential nutrient important for the daily maintenance of your body’s immune system. The function of many of our body’s immune cells is highly dependent on each one having an adequate amount of zinc. Our bodies don’t store zinc, which means we need a daily dose.
Your kids will be happy to learn that dark chocolate is one of the foods that is rich in this key nutrient. But, alas, we can’t live on chocolate alone. So make sure you add fish, chicken, cereals, seeds and nuts to your shopping list.
This is likely the first nutrient you think of when considering immunity support. It does affect several components of your immune system and is a powerful antioxidant. Like zinc, you need to consume some every day.
Most kids enjoy citrus fruit, and they are high in vitamin C, so make sure to put oranges and others on your shopping list. Strawberries, peppers, broccoli and leafy vegetables are also high in vitamin C.
Other nutrients also play a role in supporting your immune system, including copper, iron and vitamins A and E. The good news is that if you’re feeding your kids a healthy diet rich in the foods recommended above, they’re also getting these nutrients. (That includes dark chocolate, which is loaded with copper!)
Supplements can help
Getting nutrients from food is the best way for our bodies to absorb them, and there are enough ideas here to always have something on hand to feed your family that will help support their immune system. But that doesn’t mean they will eat it.
Let’s face it: Children can be picky eaters and getting them to eat food that is good for them rather than overloading on snacks and treats that are nutritionally bankrupt is a perennial parental challenge.
Fortunately, there are dietary supplements that can help fill any nutrient gaps in their diet. Nutrilite offers some that are specifically formulated for children and include the nutrients needed mentioned above.
- Nutrilite™ Kids Multivitamin Gummy
- Nutrilite™ Kids Superfood Smoothie
- Nutrilite™ Kids Complete Immunity Fast-Melt Powder
So, to support your kids’ immune systems, make sure your shopping list has all the recommended good foods, and then add these supplements. (And make sure to get some extra chocolate for yourself!)