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Choose from a variety of fortified food products for common health concerns in kids
Nutrition for Immunity
The best gift you can ever give to your child is a healthy body and strong immunity to fight infections. Life is more difficult nowadays. From the past two decades, our lifestyle, especially food habits, have evolved. This change, not necessarily all good, has mainly affected kids as they are the ones latching on to the trend of packaged comfort foods. Ill health is the biggest hurdle in a child’s life journey. From food, climate, eating habits, and lifestyle, to almost everything is constantly changing (not all for good as it seems). In this evolving scenario, immunity plays a major role and your responsibility as a parent to provide the best child immunity food increases.
Immune system is a complex network of cells, that not only protects your body from harmful disease causing viruses and bacteria but also aids in tissue repair and wound healing. In the context of corona pandemic, we can only rely on our immunity to safeguard us from the nerve-wrecking battlefield. While, to some extent, our immune system depends on genetics, it is also majorly influenced by our everyday choices- food and lifestyle.
According to ancient Indian therapeutic science of Ayurveda, when a virus or bacteria attacks the body to cause disease or sickness, the body tries to prevent or resist the disease. This power of the body, which prevents the development of disease or resists a developed disease, is called Immunity or Vyadhikshamatva. Immunity depends upon the maintenance of the equilibrium of doshas and the health of the tissues and channels. A proper combination of Ayurvedic diet and exercise (yoga and meditation) can help to boost immunity.
Immunity boosting is a comprehensive process which starts right from the early age. As babies grow and start preschool, they are more likely to be attacked by viruses and bacteria causing cold cough and other infections. Building immunity becomes key at this early stage.
Tips to Strengthen Immunity
There are certain nutrients required for the growth and functions of immune cells such as Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Zinc, Selenium, Iron and Protein. Focusing on nutrient rich food and a well-balanced diet is the best way to boost your kid’s immunity.
Immunity Booster Food for Kids
Vegetables: Study shows that vegetables provide nutrients like beta- carotene (Vitamin A), Vitamin C and Vitamin E and thus are the best child immunity food that parents can give to their kids. Many vegetables are also rich in other antioxidants that help reduce free radicals in the body (what are free radicals?). Vegetables are often a good source of prebiotic fiber that supports a healthy gut and immune system by becoming the food of the good bacteria living in the gut. Encouraging your child to eat a variety of vegetables in all colors like Broccoli, Spinach, bell paper, tomato, carrot, and beetroot in a day will take care of multiple vitamins and minerals required to keep the immunity high. (How to give complete nutrition for kids?)
Citrus fruits: Citrus fruits are considered as one of the best immunity booster food for kids. Vitamin C is a key ingredient in all the citrus fruits. Vitamin C helps build up your immune system by increasing the production of white blood cells, which fights infections. Fruits like orange, guava, grapefruit, lemon and kiwi are high in Vitamin C.(Best fruits for kids and teens?)
Oranges: Oranges should be on top of the list of child immunity food as Oranges are loaded with vitamin C. Vitamin C keeps the immunity of the child high and safeguards from unwanted bugs and germs. Another reason why kids should consume sufficient amounts of vitamin C during growing years is to support development of bones and teeth.
Mulethi: Mulethi is commonly known as licorise and works as one of the best naturally available immunity boosters. In addition it helps in strengthening the body and also works as a brain tonic and prevents early aging.
Ashwagandha: According to Ayurveda, ashwagandha is considered a natural simulator and rejuvenator. It works as a powerful immunity booster and also restores energy levels.
Amla (Indian gooseberry): Amla or the Indian Gooseberry is the richest and best natural source of vitamin C. It also contains calcium, iron, phosphorus, albumin, cellulose, fiber, carbohydrate, sugar, and water. According to ayurveda, the fruit of amla helps reduce all the 3 doshas – vata, pitta and kapha (air, fire, and phlegm), which, when aggravated above their normal limits, cause a disease. The special properties of rejuvenation and revitalizing of the entire body systems makes amla highly beneficial for increasing the body’s resistance power.
Tulsi (Holy basil): Tulsi or holy basil contains specific anti-asthmatic and anti-infective properties. Ayurveda recommends holy basil to empower respiratory resistance. To find relief, consume fresh tulsi juice made by pounding leaves of the herb, twice a day. Add a few drops of ginger and some honey to this to increase its efficiency to build resistance.
Ginger: Known for its amazing medicinal properties, ginger has been used as an active ingredient in many Ayurvedic medicines. Loaded with Vitamin B6 and magnesium, ginger also has gingerol (a photochemical compound in ginger that activates spice receptors on the tongue) which helps in enhancing immunity. It also has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory property, which helps in fighting infections. (Home remedy to treat cold in kids that actually works?)
Nuts: The vitamin E found in nuts like pistachio, almonds, cashews, walnuts and other nuts makes nuts one of the best kids immunity booster foods that help the immune system to fight against invading bacteria. They are a great source of antioxidants that keep the body healthy and disease free by neutralizing free radicals and reducing inflammation. Study shows that some roasted nuts appear to have an increased antioxidant level as compared with raw one. (What are some high protein nuts and seeds?)
Turmeric: Turmeric not only acts as an immunity booster food for kids but also has added health benefits. Curcumin, a compound found in turmeric, offers therapeutic relief and promotes immunity. It is a rich antioxidant which supports against body cell damage and has been found to delay or reverse diseases or age related decrease in body functions. According to Ayurveda, it is believed that turmeric can destroy all the 3 doshas or the basic humors of the body and hence it is recommended to treat a numbers of ailments & also as a potent. You can boil a cup of milk with 1 teaspoon of turmeric in it and give it to your child once a day.
Cinnamon: This aromatic spice is the richest source of antioxidants among all the spices that makes it a great immunity booster food for kids as well as adults. Loaded with antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial properties which fight against viruses causing infections like cold and flu. (How to give cinnamon to kids?) Cinnamon is generally regarded as safe to give to your baby in small amounts after they turn 6 months of age. Cinnamon doesn’t commonly cause an allergic reaction in children or adults. Though heavy exposure to cinnamon can cause stomach upset, skin or mouth irritation, and possibly problems with bleeding due to decreased blood clotting but a sprinkle of cinnamon on your baby’s food probably won’t cause a problem. You can add cinnamon to applesauce, oatmeal, breakfast cereals, cakes, cookies and other items that kids enjoy eating.
Moringa: Moringa is a magical tree with lots of health benefits attached. Every part of this tree such as roots, barks, fruits, flowers and leaves are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. The leaves are a good source of vitamin A, B, C minerals like calcium and Iron, which makes it a natural immunity booster food for kids. Apart from immunity it also helps in bone development, fights iron deficiency and aids in muscle building. (Whats an easy food for fixing healthy eyesight?)
Seeds: Seeds are an incredible source of nutrients. Subja seeds are rich in omega3 (alpha- linolenic acid) and also packed with flavonoids both of which help to keep the immune system strong. Sunflower seeds are rich in magnesium, vitamin E, antioxidants and good fats. Together they help to boost immunity. Sesame seeds are rich in zinc which aids in healthy immunity by protecting the body cells from invading bacterias and viruses. Pumpkin seeds are rich in Vitamin E which is necessary for immunity building and also packed with other bone-building nutrients like potassium, magnesium and vitamin K. (What are some seeds good for brain?)
Garlic: Garlic contains compounds called alliin that help the immune system fight germs. These compounds have been shown to boost the disease fighting response of the body when they encounter viruses of common cold or flu. (How does garlic help with healthy hair in kids?)
Jaggery and Sesame: As a natural sweetener, it is loaded with antioxidants and minerals like zinc which help prevent free radicals (responsible for weakening of body cells). Sugar can be conveniently replaced with jaggery in most of the sugary foods that kids love and hence jaggery is a good choice for child immunity food. It helps boost resistance against infections thereby building stronger immunity. Jaggery bars made with peanut and sesame are great for fighting winter flu. Sesame seeds are a good source of several nutrients crucial for the immune system including zinc. Zinc works as a shield to protect the body from any virus attack. (How does Zinc protect from boils on the body?)