NATIONAL NEWS - As parents, one of the main concerns we have right now is keeping our children healthy. Children are likely to get sick with a cold, the flu, an ear infection – or even worse COVID-19. Kids’ immune systems are still developing and this makes them more susceptible to get sick.
But luckily there are steps you can take to decrease the severity and frequency of illnesses, aside from (or in addition to) immune-boosting supplements and vitamins. Here’s how:
According to mamanatural.com, sleep is one of the most powerful natural immune boosters for kids. Not only does your body repair itself while you’re sleeping, it also produces infection-fighting white blood cells.
How much sleep does my toddler need? Toddlers need about 12 hours of sleep during the night and one nap during the day (between 1 – 3 hours).
According to the British Journal of Sports Medicine, exercise can reduce colds by up to 67%. This doesn’t mean a 5km run every morning. Now that the Botanical gardens have opened for exercise, you can take your toddler for a walk through the gardens – or just take an afternoon walk in your suburb.
Playing games in the garden also counts as exercise – get the frisbee out or kick a ball to each other.
A diet rich in zinc-rich foods
Toddlers seem to thrive on sweets, crisps and two-minute noodles, but try and sneak in some chickpeas, seeds, cashews, eggs, and ground red meat in their meals – all excellent sources of zinc.
More fruit and veg
Yes, we know the chances of you getting 8 uninterrupted hours of sleep is higher than your toddler actually eating vegetables without you having to bribe him. But, tomatoes, green veg like broccoli and spinach, carrots, onions, and garlic all contain phytonutrients that are all great natural immune boosters.
Enough vitamin D
According to a study by the US National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health, vitamin D encourages an immune response when the body is threatened with foreign invaders.
Sunshine is the best form of vitamin D – but it’s currently winter in South Africa, so you might not be spending as much time outside as you would during summer. You can also include more vitamin D-rich foods in your toddler’s diet like salmon and mackerel, eggs, and beef.
Drinking enough clean water is another great way to naturally boost children’s immune systems. When you’re hydrated, it helps your body fight off colds and flush out bacteria and your wee, which can also help prevent your toddler from getting a urinary tract infection.
Add strawberries, lemon slices or pineapple and mint leaves to your child’s water to make it a little more fun to drink.
Practice good oral health
Another study by the US National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health shows that oral infections can increase your risk of autoimmune diseases. Help your toddler brush his teeth every morning and night and make regular appointments with your child’s dentist.
Get a pet (if you don’t have one already)
Studies show that sharing your home with a pet improves your immune system and reduces your chances of developing allergies or asthma. Animals also reduce stress levels (and stress can sabotage your immune system).
Ditch the sugar
Yes, we know – sugar is how you sometimes bribe your kids so you can get work done, but according to this study, too much sugar can wreak havoc on your gut health, which is bad for your immune system. Sugar also leads to inflammation throughout the body.
This doesn’t mean you should take away all sweets – there are healthier alternatives you can make for your toddler.