The second wave of coronavirus is causing a surge in cases and are said to be quite scary for the kids too-who have been largely spared during the pandemic. At a time when children do not have access to COVID vaccines, how can parents keep them safe from the newer virus strains and waves by boosting their kid’s immunity? Functional nutritionist Mugdha Pradhan, founder of iThrive tells us more about what parents can do to increase their child’s immunity.
What Lowers Your Child’s Immunity?
To build a child’s immunity, it is essential to first comprehend the factors that lower their immunity. These factors include nutritional deficiencies, accumulation of toxins, imbalance in the gut microbiome, eating too many inflammatory foods, exposure to electromagnetic fields, lack of deep sleep, movement scarcity, lack of sunlight exposure, and last but not the least, stress.
As a parent, it is your duty to ensure that your child’s everyday diet is rich in various essential nutrients such as proteins, glucose, saturated fat, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, magnesium, vitamin B complex, iodine, iron, etc. It is also important to necessitate an overall transformation in the child’s daily food consumption. In order to build a robust immune system, it is essential to eliminate/ reduce processed sugar, refined flours, processed foods, seed oils, sugary drinks, caffeine in the everyday diet.
Increase the consumption of good quality protein such as eggs, pulses, and sprouts in a young one’s diet. Cut down the intake of harmful fats and increase the consumption of good saturated fat. It is also necessary to inculcate the habit of eating seasonal fruits in children on a daily basis and Increase the consumption of whole grains that are rich in essential fibre. It is also advisable to address the daily nutritional requirement of children by giving them a good quality supplement to replace essential nutrients that might not be available from food
Building Up Gut Health
Yes, if children have poor gut health or digestive issues, they are naturally susceptible to any viral or bacterial attacks. This is, essentially, because 70 per cent of your immune system is located in your gut and is overtly responsible when it comes to streamlining the body’s immune response. The most revealing data shows that there’s an immune system of gut microbes working together, communicating with your body to sound the alarm when a spike in defence is needed. A healthy gut microbiome is a vital key to your child’s overall wellness.
Caring For Children’s Health
Besides maintaining a healthy diet, it is also important to ensure various other aspects of your kid’s life safeguard them from the virulent pathogen. Make it a rule that your child spends at least an hour everyday day in sunlight (sunlight exposure boosts the immune system) and there is some outdoor play and activity involved. You can also identify spaces around your home as the chances of infections in open outdoor spaces with fresh air are minimal. Being outdoors in the lap of nature allows your children to get a healthier microbiome environment.
Lastly, rest is most essential for an effective immune system. You must permit your child enough time to sleep, re-evaluate their daily schedule and salvage 10-12 hours of sleep every night.
Superfoods For Increasing Your Child’s Immunity
Immunity has been one of the major keywords since the pandemic broke out. The reason being obvious… Good immunity equals a better chance of not getting infected. Even if one does test COVID positive, a stronger immunity means a better chance at fighting it! With children being at risk, it is always a good idea to amp up their immunity. Fitness and nutrition expert Rohit Shelatkar, VP, Vitabiotics shares which superfoods should be added to a children’s diet to improve their immunity.
Photo: Rohit Shelatkar
What Are Superfoods And How Do They Help
These are foods with a high nutritional density. They provide a substantial amount of nutrients within few calories. They contain a high volume of minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. Antioxidants are naturally present in certain foods and help neutralise free radicals in our bodies.
Superfoods That Improve Immunity
Summer Fruits and Veggies: Toddlers tend to have an affinity for colours on their plates. By incorporating seasonal fruits like mango, muskmelon, watermelon, oranges and vegetables such as bell peppers, bottle gourd, cucumber and beans, you will provide your child with a nutritious rainbow.
Coconut Water: Packed with several vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, coconut water keeps the body nourished and hydrated. It is a low-calorie beverage, which works as an excellent thirst-quencher and immunity booster.
Almonds: Almonds are packed with vitamin E and manganese, a strong immune-boosting duo that both enhance natural killer cell activity.
Turmeric Milk: The main ingredient is turmeric which is a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant that boasts a wide variety of amazing health benefits.
How To Make These Superfoods An Integral Part Of Your Child’s Diet
With children finding vegetables and other grains boring to eat every day, mothers can incorporate them with a twist and give children the required amounts of nutrients. Preparations like fresh fruit salad, popcorn or cucumber cheese sandwiches are a few healthy snack options for your young one.
Hydration is equally important. Parents should take care of their child’s daily water intake and incorporate some summer drinks including sabja seeds or haldi doodh, which help increase immunity.
Children And COVID-19
The second wave has seen many children get COVID positive. It is important to protect them and ensure they remain healthy and strong. Parents should follow the protocols; avoid stepping out with the kids. New mothers should take utmost care and continue to breastfeed as that will help the newborn to build immunity.