How is your child’s immunity?

Does your child fall sick often? Is your child the first one to generally catch a cold? My daughter has been catching a cold every week for the last 3 weeks. I believe that she has been falling sick because she hasn’t been eating as well and her immune system is weak. Till the recent bouts of cold she has hardly ever fallen sick. No ear infections ever and perhaps 5 instance of cold/fever over the first 3 years of her life. I believe she has been healthy of what she eats when she is home in Los Angeles. She hasn’t adapted well to the local fruits and vegetables here in India and has been eating mostly a carb diet. Dr. Joel Fuhrman, pediatrician and the brains behind the ANDI Score, says that a well balanced diet and diet changes should be used as the first line of treatment for illnesses children have (ear infections etc). I agree. My daughter’s immunity has gone down, so I decided to explore what makes and keeps children healthy beside a healthy balanced diet.

What is immunity? Immunity is a combined function of the lymphatic system, the bloodstream, the digestive system, and the skin all working together to defend the body from the “invaders”.

What are immunity boosters?

  • Good hygiene – Lots and lots of hand washing. I am obsessive about this and the first thing we all do when we get home is wash our hands. I make my 3 year old change clothes when she gets home as there have been studies that show  that clothing can have fecal matter since some children don’t wash their hands or don’t wash them well.
  • Lots of sleep – Children need their sleep! Their brain develops when they are sleeping and sleeping prevents childhood obesity. Lack of sleep reduces immunity so make sure they get enough sleep for their age to have a strong immune system.
  • A balanced diet – include foods rich in iron, vitamin c and zinc.
  • Regular exercise – kids need to play at least an hour a day. Enroll your child in a tennis class or a soccer class or just go to the playground and run with them. It’s good for them and good for you to share these moments with them.
  • Hug, Laugh and Love – Hug your child. It is amazing what physical contact can do to anyone’s mood. So don’t forget to hug your children daily as studies have shown that hugs and kisses keep bugs at bay. Laughter also strengthens immunity – so laugh with your child.

Vital Vitamins and Minerals for building immunity:

  1. Vitamin C – Strengthens immune system, absorbs iron, heals wounds, and fights infections.
  2. Iron – Forms hemoglobin in the blood and keeps anemia and fatigue at bay.
  3. Zinc – Necessary for cell division, growth and wound healing. Zinc deficiency can cause loss of appetite and reduced resistance to infection.

In my next post, I discuss the important vitamins and minerals – what they do, food sources and how to tell if you have a deficiency in them.

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