Cold and Flu: Are you feeding your kids right?

With every changed season, the biggest concern among parents around the globe is to prevent their kids from cold and flu. Children start to get cold after about six months of age when the immunity they received from their mom fades and they have to build up their own immunity. Kids less than seven years of age have immature immune system which makes them, more susceptible to cold and flu viruses. Most of the kids have at least six to eight colds a year, which is likely to happen during fall and winter. Every time when kids get infected to specific cold virus, their immune system develops antibodies, which help them to fight against it next time. But there are lots of different cold viruses, so, it takes time to build effective immune system.

Children catch cold, when a virus came in contact with the lining of nose and throat. There are more than two hundred different viruses causing cold in children, but the Rhinovirus is the most common offender. The symptoms for cold includes stuffy or runny nose and sneezing. However, flu symptoms are more severe than cold and includes fever, headache, sore throat, congestion.

Ways to get infected by a cold and flu:

Direct contact: by getting in contact with a person infected by cold virus. As cold is contagious; they can pass on the virus. It’s usually spread when infected person has a cold blow or touches their nose and then touches someone or something else.

Indirect contact: by touching toys, doorknob, books and other items that has been touched by an infected person.

Through air: if infected person cough , sneeze, or talks , virus can spread through droplets in the air and may enter your body through nose, mouth , eyes.

Precautions are better than cure. Some foods can help tackle seasonal cold and flu in kids:

Turmeric: Due to its anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties turmeric is known to treat viral infections such as cold and flu. By adding turmeric powder to a glass of warm milk can offer relief in aching throat and runny nose.

  • Honey: Honey contains antioxidants, anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties which helps against common cold and flu. It has been used traditionally for thousand of years in different asian cultures to treat infections. (An easy honey recipe for kids)
  • Carrot: Beta- carotene in carrots converts into vitamin A which is key for keeping mucous membranes (inside nose and mouth) healthy. Vitamin A also benefits the immune system by preparing it to fight when a similar virus attacks next time. (How does Vitamin A help skin?)
  • Ginger: Ginger roots are used from centuries for health benefits in asian cultures. Research shows that ginger has medicinal properties, both anti-viral and anti-bacterial, that could help ease the symptoms of cold or sore throat. (What are other Ayurvedic herbs that are good for kids?)
  • Egg: Eggs are packed with immunity boosting nutrients, with high amount of vitamin D, which is vital in regulating and strengthening immunity. Vitamin D is present in every cell of the body, strengthening it and protecting it against viruses or bacterias attacking from the outside. A child who took a daily serving of vitamin D in winters were less likely to catch cold and flu as compared to those who did not.
  • Whole Grain: Whole grains are high prebiotic fibre which has anti-inflammatory properties and increases the production of healthy bacteria in the gut. It works as the food for the bacterias living in the gut and increasing them in quantity, ensuring healthy gut health. Simply put, with lack of fibre, bacterias living in the gut don’t survive as they don’t get their food. This causes lowered immunity. (How does this help with acne?)
  • Apple: This fruit contains phytochemical anti-oxidants which helps in boosting immunity. Apple are also full of calories which come from a good mix of carbs, vitamins and minerals which keeps your child energised to fight the infection without losing much of weight. One apple with skin has 5g of fibre which ensures healthy gut health also. (Should apple be given everyday?)
  • Spinach: Spinach is a super food that is great for your overall health not only it is packed with digestion regulating prebiotic fiber but it also contains vitamin C, a powerful nutrient that can help in preventing common cold and reduce symptoms of sickness. (An easy spinach recipe for kids)

Blueberries: Blueberries are filled with antioxidants that can help in treating and preventing cold and flu. It contains flavonoids, a type of antioxidants that can help reduce damage to cells and boost immunity system.

  • Apart from offering plenty of fluids to keep the child hydrated, foods which are rich in antioxidants like Vitamin C (what is the easiest source?), Vitamin E (what are some easy sources?) and zinc help to fight against cold and flu. Zinc forms a protective layer on the cells of the body and shields against invading bacterias and viruses. It is popularly found in diaper rash creams or sunscreens for the same reason. There are certain foods that you should avoid including in your kids diet if he/she has cold and flu such as sugary foods and oily foods which are refined and processed as they don’t contribute any nutrition to cure the infection. Rather they can work adversely (How?)

There are some ways that can be followed to avoid cold and flu too:

  • Hand wash – make your kids wash their hands on regular basis especially when they are in contact of someone infected or sanitize their hands.
  • Teach your kids to cover their nose and mouth while sneezing or coughing.
  • Avoid sharing cups, utensils, toys and towels with others.

Recipe: Honey Turmeric immunity balls

  • Roast 1 tbsp turmeric, once the colour turns light brown and aromatic, take it off
  • Add 1 tsp honey
  • Add 1tsp or more jaggery powder
  • Add ½ tsp cinnamon powder (optional)
  • Add 1 tsp dry ginger powder (optional)
  • Add mashed dates (optional)

Check the consistency to make round tiny balls or tablet shapes or add more honey to keep it a syrup (as child likes)

Give kids 1-2 tablets or 1-2 tsp syrup in a day, preferably before bedtime and avoid any cold food or fruits just after giving these. Can also add this syrup or tablet to warm milk till and mix well.

This has been tried with kids and they always ask for more:)

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