Children these days are more susceptible to different infections like the common cold, cough, fever, diarrhea, etc., due to faulty eating patterns and junk foods as they are unaware of the unhygienic conditions under which they are prepared. Therefore, awareness about consuming foods that will boost children’s immunity is essential to prevent them from various illnesses. Good immunity is significant as it protects the child from multiple diseases and infections.
What Are the Immune Enhancer Food Items for Kids?
Good immunity can be developed by eating the following groups of food:
Fruits And Vegetables: Blue, purple, and green colored fruits and vegetables contain a pigment called antioxidants which protect your child from various infections by strengthening their immune system. Encourage your kid to eat different types of fruits and vegetables with different colors, which provide your child with essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin A and C, strengthening your child's immunity. For example, fruits could be cut into slices, mixed with yogurt, and given to your child. It will provide your child with essential fiber and strengthen your kid's gut.
Citrus fruits are rich in protective antioxidants like vitamin C that help protect cells and assist healing. Protective antioxidants support your immune system and make you less vulnerable to illness. Oranges, lemons, grapefruits, and tangerines are your most loyal flu fighters.
Strawberries, cranberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries are not just colorful and tasty, but also nutritious! Packed with antioxidants, berries fight against free radicals in the body, thereby strengthening your child’s immune system. Some kids may be allergic to berries, so do keep a watch on that. Add berries in puddings or yogurt as you cannot overlook the importance of a balanced diet.
Good Fats: Good fats like almonds, walnuts, garden cress seeds, and flaxseeds give your child omega-3 fatty acids, an important antioxidant to prevent obesity-related health problems. Recently, newspapers have reported cardiac arrest in teens due to consumption of excess bad fats, which are present in junk foods like burgers, fries, samosa, pasta, and pizza. Therefore, it is essential to replace these bad fats with good fats, hence strengthening your child's immune system.
Proteins: Proteins are available in milk and milk products such as cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, and non-vegetarian sources like chicken, fish, and eggs. They build immunity for your child by enhancing wound healing. If there is a lack of protein in your child's diet, your child is prone to the risk of internal bleeding, and also external wounds take time to heal.
Iron: Iron comes from green leafy vegetables like spinach, garden-cress seeds, and non-veg foods like chicken, eggs, and fish. Lack of iron may lead to anemia in your child and cause lethargy, restlessness, and lack of concentration. Therefore, it is imperative to include rich sources of iron in your kid's diet.
Calcium: Calcium comes from milk and milk products, seafood like fish, sunflower seeds, green leafy vegetables, etc. Calcium plays a crucial role in developing and strengthening your child's bones. Lack of calcium in your child's diet may make them prone to rickets with symptoms like bowed legs and knocked knees. Also, it may disrupt enamel development in your child, leading to various dental issues. Lack of calcium in your kid's diet may also hamper your kid's performance in sports due to symptoms like back pain and pain in the bones and hips. Therefore, it is crucial to include good sources of calcium in your kid's diet.
An adequate quantity of almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sesame seeds can be incorporated into your child’s daily diet. They can be taken between meals, as salad, or as nut butter.
Sunlight, an excellent reserve of Vitamin D, aids in the functioning of T-cells in the body. Other food groups that provide vitamin D are milk and dairy products, fortified cereals, eggs, cheese, and mushrooms.
Probiotics and Prebiotics: Gut health also has a huge impact on the immune system. Probiotics (good bacteria) and prebiotics (nutrients that serve as food to good bacteria) enhance the immune response to diseases and render anticancer and anti-inflammatory effects. Some of the good reserves of probiotics and prebiotics are yogurt, buttermilk, onion, garlic, banana, barley, oats, and flaxseeds.
What Are the Top Five Immune Boosting Foods for Kids?
The top five immune-boosting foods for kids are as follows:
Mushrooms: They are one of the main sources of zinc which serve as an immune system-boosting mineral. It aids in white blood cell production and helps in fighting infections and enhances immunity in children. Mushrooms specifically help in treating and preventing the common cold, flu, and other infections. Various types of mushrooms carry different antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-carcinogenic effects.
Eggs: Eggs are regarded as whole food. It is one of the certain foods to hold vitamin D naturally. It is packed with many essential vitamins and minerals, proteins, omega-3 fats, antioxidants; and nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin B12, vitamin D, and selenium.
Spinach: Spinach is famous among kids as Popeye, the sailor man’s food. It seems that Popeye knew that spinach is loaded with vitamins and minerals that strengthen the immune system and also contain vitamins A, E, C, and K, folate, manganese, zinc, selenium, and iron. It assists in stabilizing blood sugar levels and decreases the chances of cancer. It can be ingested as juice or smoothies, though spinach nuggets are also a favorable option.
Sweet Potatoes: This sweet and starchy root vegetable is rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and beta-carotene. The abundant quantities of antioxidants present in them provide protection to the body from many chronic illnesses. They also increase the count of white blood cells in the body and support the activity of killer cells. They are also a great source of vitamin C and support the immune system of adults as well as children. Sweet potatoes can be incorporated into pancakes, muffins, soups, or in an Indian way as chaat or tikki.
It is highly imperative for children to have good immunity, which can be simply improved by incorporating certain foods in their diet in optimal amounts. Hence, appropriate measures should be taken by parents and caregivers to fulfill this requirement.