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6 Steps to Improve Your Children’s Immunity & Safeguard their Health

As we say, children are like wet clay and childhood is their moulding plate. Whatever a child learns or adapts in childhood is likely to stay with him for his entire life. Perhaps, this statement doesn’t limit itself to lifestyle or habits only, but also to health and immunity. Whatever sort of diseases a child catches can leave an impression on his future growth. So base needs to be strong in order to build an empire on it. Similarly, for healthy living, children’s immune system is a base that needs to be very strong.

Every kid has an individual adaptive nature to lifestyle. Plus, you can’t put them on strict diets or physical training. Children tend to complete their part of work out during outdoor activities and playing. So, what can you actually do to protect your children from harmful infections or viruses and build a strong immune army to fight germs?

Charles Shubin, M.D., an associate professor of paediatrics at the University of Maryland says “We all enter this world with an inexperienced immune system”. Due to this, as a kid, we are more prone to catch different infections very quickly. Many paediatricians consider it normal for a kid to have six to eight colds, bouts of flu, or ear infections per year.

But still, there are many minute changes you can do in order to give a boost to your child’s immune system.

1. Add fruits and Vegetables to their diet

Fruits and vegetables are great sources of fibre. They have low calories and fats. Not only this but fruits and vegetables provide you with so many essential minerals and vitamins. William Sears, M.D., author of The Family Nutrition Book says Carrots, green beans, oranges, strawberries contain carotenoids. These are immunity-boosting phytonutrients that help the immune system to fight unwanted germs.

Phytonutrients may help in increasing the production of white blood cells in our body, that fight infections. Also, it helps in increasing interferon. Interferon is an antibody that coats the cell surface and blocks out the virus. Research shows that a diet rich in Phytonutrients helps to prevent us from catching chronic diseases like cancer, heart diseases in adulthood. Children must have 5 servings of fruits and vegetables in a day. A serving means two tablespoons for toddlers and one cup for older kids.

Also Read: Weight loss – Not a bed of rocks.

2. Let them sleep for a little longer

Studies for adults show that lack of sleep can make you more prone to catch diseases. This is because lack of sleep reduces natural killer cells, immune system weapons that attack microbes and cancer cells.  Kathi Kemper, M.D., director of the Center for Holistic Pediatric Education and Research at Children’s Hospital, in Boston states that this process applies to children too. Children in daycare are more likely to be sleep-deprived. This is because so many activities that make them busy, make it difficult for them to sleep. But how much sleep do kids need actually?

Research shows that an infant needs 16 hours of rest in a day. Toddlers require 11-14 hours and children going to preschool need 10-13 hours of sleep.  “If your child can’t or won’t take naps during the day, try to put her to bed earlier,” says Dr. Kemper. Good sleep can actually help in boosting up their immunity.

3. Breast feeding

Breast milk contains turbo-charged immunity-boosting antibodies. It also contains white blood cells that empower the immune system to fight viruses and infections. Breastfeeding helps in preventing ear infections, allergies, diarrhoea, pneumonia, meningitis, urinary tract infections, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Research shows that it may also increase your child’s brain capacity and learning power. It can protect children from catching insulin-dependent diabetes, Crohn’s disease, colitis, and certain forms of cancer later in life. 

Studies say that Colostrum is the thin yellow “pre-milk” that flows from the breasts during the first few days after birth. This milk is extremely rich in disease-fighting antibodies. It is recommended that a child should be breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life. This will transfer many nutrients from breastmilk to a child’s immune system. This may preserve crucial disease-fighting nutrients in children’s body, that can prevent many chronic diseases in the future.

4. Take steps to stop germ spread

Building a strong immune system may help in fighting various viruses and infections that enter your body. But as we say, prevention is better than cure. The immune system is like a wall. It can protect you from diseases but , every time your immune system fights against any virus, it breaks down too. Then it may take time to rebuild itself.

Preventing germs to enter the body as much as you can is a brilliant way to safeguard your immunity. And no, this doesn’t require any major steps. Small observations can prevent germs from getting into your child’s body. Make sure your kids wash their hands properly with soap more often, before and after eating, once they come home from an outing, etc. You must pay attention to their hygiene before and after each meal and after playing outside, handling pets, using the bathroom, and arriving home from daycare. Carry some essential things like disposable wipes whenever you go out with them for quick cleanups.

Another healthcare tip is “If your child does get sick, throw out her toothbrush right away,” says Barbara Rich, D.D.S., a spokesperson for the Academy of General Dentistry. A child can’t catch the same virus or infection twice. But the virus can go from toothbrush to toothbrush and infect other family members. And in case it’s a bacterial infection, then your child may infect himself again.

Also Read: Weight loss with this 28-day meal plan.

5. Keep them away from smoking environment

No, smoking doesn’t only have a negative impact on your health but also on people living in your surroundings, especially children. Cigarette smoke contains around 7000 harmful chemicals. Many of these chemicals can kill or irritate cells in the body, says Beverly Kingsley, Ph.D., an epidemiologist with the Office on Smoking and Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in Atlanta. This is called “second-hand smoke”. Kids are more likely to catch these harmful bacteria than adults. This is because children breathe at a faster rate than adults. Second-hand or Passive smoke increases the risk of SIDS, bronchitis, ear infections, and asthma. It may also affect the intelligence and neurological development of the child.

So in case you or your partner smoke, try to quit. And if quitting doesn’t feel like an easy option, try to smoke outside your home and away from your child.

6. Avoid Antibiotics

Forcing your paediatrician to give a prescription for antibiotics whenever your child gets cold, flu or sore throat is not a good idea. You may feel like you are trying to treat your kid, but instead, you will end up giving them some bad effects on the immune system. Antibiotics treat diseases caused by bacteria only, but research shows that most of the illness in childhood is caused by viruses.

Studies show that many paediatricians have to write a prescription due to the urge by parents. But this somehow affects the immunity of your child. So don’t think that taking anti-biotic is a compulsion for your kid to be okay. Whenever your kid’s paediatrician prescribes any anti-biotics, make sure they are not thinking that you want it for your kid.

A strong foundation can not only help to keep your tiny tots healthy but can also help them in leading a healthy lifestyle. A little extra observation and responsible behaviour can bring a huge change to the immunity of your kid.

Eat – Sleep – Exercise – REPEAT…
**Stay Healthy Stay Fit with more articles on Health and Fitness

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