How To Improve Immune System Functioning In Your Kids To Prevent Infection
The number of children and youth in the United States with chronic health conditions has increased dramatically in the past 4 decades. In Canada we are not far behind. We hear more and more about respiratory illnesses like asthma and allergies and more serious conditions like mental illness, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, and cancer that were once very rare in children. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, the incidence of type 2 diabetes in children increased by 30% from 2001 to 2009.
Prevention of illness is an area that we don’t hear a lot about, yet it is one of the most important aspects of keeping us healthy. The preventative measures we can implement as parents are key to keeping our children healthy and strong throughout their lives.
What is the immune system?
Prevention is related to the immune system and its healthy functioning. The immune system is a network of cells, tissues and organs that are designed to protect and defend against germs, viruses and chronic illness. When we do our job to strengthen our immune system and keep it in good shape with diet and lifestyle, only then can it do its job and ward off illness and disease. If we don’t keep this system in top working order to the best of our ability, unfortunately it won’t be able to do its job properly.
So how can we keep our immune systems running well and working for us 24/7? Here are my tips:
IMMUNE SYSTEM BOOSTERS & BUILDERS
- Probiotics (we think)
- Protein- some good examples are: wild fish, legumes, organic chicken, eggs
- Raw and cooked vegetables
- Vitamins – especially vitamin A, B, C, D and E. From the diet is always best.
- Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s) especially omega 3’s which are found in fish, chia seeds or a fish oil supplement
- Minerals- especially zinc but also copper, iron, selenium and magnesium
- Exercise and outdoor time
STRESSORS ON THE IMMUNE SYSTEM
- Food sensitivities and allergies
- Sugar – can decrease immune function for up to 6 hours (wheat and pasta turn into sugar very quickly in the body)
- Excessive caffeine intake (be careful with caffeinated beverages and chocolate)
- Some artificial sweeteners
- Exposure to mold
- Hard to digest foods like dairy, wheat, gluten (for some people)
- Some over the counter medications
- Some prescription medications
How to improve immune system functioning to keep you at your healthiest?
Educating children about the immune system and explaining its function can be very helpful in motivating them to take action and do their part. Once kids learn that they are in charge of their bodies and can play an active role in their health, they are much more likely to improve their eating and eat a varied diet. To simplify for younger kids, I like to explain the immune system as a group of fighter cells in the body that get stronger with vegetables and weaker with sugar, as sugar makes our fighter cells unable to fend off germs that enter our bodies. Keeping the fighter cells strong will enable them to fight hard for us and keep illness away.
Keep your body and immune system healthy
Encourage your kids to do the same
The immune system is like an army
Decrease sugar and increase healthy veg, fruits and proteins
Need ideas for a healthy breakfast for kids?
Healthy lunch ideas for toddlers?
Nutritious and easy dessert recipes for kids?