This Winter has been long, cold and riddled with illness. After being cooped up inside for the better part of 2 years, back to school, work and increased socialising has been a shock to the immune system!
Supporting our immune systems, and those of our children has never been more important with colds, flus and even gastro doing the rounds. A child’s immune system continues to develop until around age 6, and school and day care mean they inevitably come into contact with a myriad of different pathogens. It is therefore important to ensure their immune system is supported with the nutrients it needs to function optimally.
The gut microbiome plays an important role in immune health as 70% of our immune system is located in the gut. This means that gut dysbiosis (meaning an imbalance in the levels of good and bad gut bacteria) negatively affects our immunity. Our diet is one of the most impactful ways that we can support our gut microbiome and immune system. My top tips for supporting your child’s immune system include:
- Consume the rainbow! Colourful fruits and vegetables provide vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals and fibre for optimal gut and immune health
- Reduce sugar and processed foods as sugar has a suppressant effect on the immune system, and increases the production of mucous
- Regularly consume fermented foods such as yoghurt & kefir as these are rich in probiotics and help to support good gut bacteria
- Include protein with every meal to provide amino acids and iron, both of which are integral for a healthy immune system
- Include vitamin C rich foods such as citrus fruits, kiwi fruit, strawberries & capsicum
- Include zinc rich foods such as legumes, meat, shellfish & pepitas
- Consume immune boosting foods such as garlic, ginger, turmeric, herbs & spices, bone broth & manuka honey (if over the age of 12 months)
- Spend time outside to optimise vitamin D levels, an important immune-supportive nutrient
- Ensure sufficient sleep to allow restoration of the immune system
- Possible supplementation may include a probiotic or a good quality vitamin D supplement, however it is important to consult your healthcare practitioner as individual needs will vary
Alice is a Clinical Naturopath who has a particular interest in skin, gut and hormonal health. Her passion lies in gently guiding people towards optimal health and supporting them along their health journey.