The change of season can bring with it an increase in colds and infections.
Certain nutrients and herbs can help boost your child’s immunity.
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) has anti-microbial action and enhances white blood cell (leukocyte). These cells are an important part of the immune system and help the body fight off bacteria, viruses and other toxins.
Humans are unable to synthesize ascorbate acid, so it is an essential nutrient. The Vitamin C content in food can be decreased through transportation, storage, preparation and cooking of foods.
This is an essential micronutrient known to play a central role in the immune system, from skin membrane barrier integrity to helping the body fight infections. Its benefits include boosting the immune system, strengthening the healing process and contributing to the antioxidant defence network.
Low Vitamin D levels have been linked to recurrent respiratory infections and chronic coughs in children. An observational study in 2016 compared serum Vitamin D levels in children with recurrent respiratory infections, chronic cough and healthy children.
The children with recurrent respiratory infections and chronic cough were found to have low serum Vitamin D levels (2).
As 70% of our immune system is in the gut, a healthy microbiome is crucial. Probiotics are beneficial for helping restore the balance of good bacteria.
Using a multi-strain probiotic can help reduce the severity of the common cold and result in fewer days absent from daycare. (1).
Astagalus Astragalus membranaceus
Astragalus root is used in traditional Chinese medicine to stimulate the immune system. It is recommended for the prevention of infection, impaired immunity and is used for the management of upper respiratory tract infection, particularly of a chronic nature. It also has the added benefit for supporting adrenal health and helping restore energy after chronic infections.
Lastly eating a diet that is high in whole foods such as fresh vegetables and fruit, good quality protein and healthy fats go a long way to improving immunity. Aim for a variety of different coloured vegetables and fruit to help boost antioxidants. Good protein choices include chicken, lean beef, fish, eggs and vegetarian sources such as beans and lentils.
Healthy fats include natural nuts and seeds, avocados and healthy oils such as extra virgin olive oil.
Reduce sugar, packaged and processed foods such as biscuits, sweets and store brought breakfast cereals.
Breakfast could be a soft boiled egg with wholegrain toast, smashed avocado on toast sprinkled with hemp seeds, porridge made from whole grain oats with a drizzle of honey or homemade granola (see my recipes).
Snacks could include homemade bliss balls, whole fruit, vegetable sticks and hummus.
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1. Ahren I, Berggren A, Teixeira C, Niskanen T, Larsson N. Evaluation of the efficacy of Lactobacillus plantarum HEAL9 and Lactobacillus paracasei 8700:2 on aspects of common cold infections in children attending day care: a randomised, double‑blind, placebo‑controlled clinical study. Eur J Nutr. 2020;59:409-417. doi: 10.1007/s00394-019-02137-8
2. Ozdemir B, Koksal BT, Karakas NM, et al. Serum vitamin D levels in children with recurrent respiratory infections and chronic cough. Indian J Pediatr 2016 [Epub ahead of print]