Supporting your immune system is essential to maintaining good health. It might be an obvious statement to make, but there are lots of things you can do to strengthen your immunity, preventing potential illnesses and allowing you to live a healthier life. For our children, it’s even more important that they get everything their bodies need as their immune systems develop. So how can you boost your kids’ immunity, and what are the most effective ways to help them stay healthy?
How to Help Build-up Your Kids’ Immunity
Children need extra care to build up their immune systems as they grow up. Our young ones are more susceptible to infections because their immune systems haven’t yet been exposed to many viruses or overcome minor illnesses, from the common cold to flu.
They typically have fewer antibodies in their system and their bodies aren’t as capable of fighting off infections, whereas older people have more advanced immunity that’s been developed over their lifetimes.
What can parents do to protect their children and give them the best chance of staying fit, healthy and full of energy?
1. Make Sure They Get Adequate Sleep
It may be a struggle, but sleep is essential to developing a healthy immune system. Sleep deprivation makes people more susceptible to illness, and a chronic lack of sleep can have serious health implications.
Toddlers need between 11-14 hours of sleep every day, and it’s best if they get at least 10-12 hours of this sleep at bedtime. As we get older, we typically require less sleep and find that sleep may be harder to achieve (especially after having children!), but sleep is absolutely essential to maintaining a healthy immune system.
Sleep gives the body a chance to cleanse and detoxify its various cells, remove waste products from our bloodstream, and filter out any toxins that build up in the body. Without sufficient sleep, the human body builds up a deficit that can only be recouped by getting some shut-eye. If the body doesn’t have a chance to maintain itself during sleep, illnesses are much more likely to occur.
2. Keep Their Minds and Bodies Active and Engaged
Your children depend on you for a great many things, not least to keep them entertained. Many parents face a significant challenge in keeping their children occupied, especially if you have lots of responsibilities or lead a busy lifestyle, as so many of us do. Even if you have very little spare time, engaging your kids in fun and interesting activities is a great way of keeping their minds stimulated and bodies active, positively impacting their wellbeing.
This is because physical movement activates the lymphatic system, the body’s primary system that protects us from infections and diseases. This movement increases lymphatic flow, helping to regulate the body’s functions.
Exciting activities will also help your children get more, higher-quality sleep. Without enough attention or enough playtime, we all know too well that kids can quickly become overtired, restless and are more prone to tantrums. This kind of stress — felt by both child and parent — can negatively affect your kids’ immune response, so it’s best avoided wherever possible and for the benefit of everyone in your family.
3. Serve-up More Fresh Fruit and Vegetables
Fresh fruits and vegetables contain high levels of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other essential nutrients that help support a healthy immune system. Getting your kids to eat fresh fruits might be easy because of their sweet taste, but getting them to eat vegetables can be more tricky, especially if you’ve got picky eaters or you lack the time to prepare nutritious meals from scratch. Try different kinds of fruit and veg to see what your kids enjoy, and explain to them that eating vegetables will make them big and strong. A little incentive can go a long way!
Certain fruits and vegetables contain carotenoids, which can be found in vegetables like carrots, broccoli, kale and collard greens, while fruits with high levels of carotenoids include nectarines, peaches, tangerines, tomatoes and watermelon. Carotenoids are important for supporting your kids’ immune systems because of their immunity-boosting properties that take the form of phytonutrients, which protect against chronic diseases — like cancer and heart disease — later in life.
4. Give Them a Daily Vitamin Supplement
Natural vitamin supplements for kids can fill in a range of nutritional gaps in children’s diets and give parents some peace of mind. High-quality multivitamins contain all of the essential vitamins, minerals and other nutrients children need to build up their immunity — including vitamins A, B, C, D and E, as well as zinc and iron — while vitamin-specific supplements can target individual areas of your child’s health.
While natural supplements shouldn’t replace healthy diets, plenty of playtime and enough sleep, one chewable vitamin sweet or one sachet of powdered vitamins can top-up your kids’ diets and compensate for anything they might lack, preventing the likelihood of illness and maintaining their health long into adulthood.
Helping Your Kids Develop Their Immune Systems
With so many factors to consider when trying to boost your kids’ immune systems, it can leave a lot of room for doubt. Are my kids getting enough fresh air and exercise? Do they get enough nutrition from their diet? Could they be getting more sleep? All of these important questions that parents need to ask themselves, but by following all of the steps above and practising good hygiene, you’ll be able to give your kids the best chance to grow up happy and healthy.