In the old days, immune support for kids meant shoving a beanie on their head, packing an extra orange in their lunchbox and telling them if it starts raining stick to the trees. And if they did catch a chill, nothing worked better than a day off school, two minute noodles and a chalky tasting Vit C tablet. If you don’t remember this way of thinking, that’s OK. It was a little backward even then but it does show how far we’ve come in the way we support the immune systems of our children. Parents are more proactive than ever in finding ways to support their child’s immune system no matter what life throws at it. The tricky part is how. We know that supporting a child’s immune system involves taking a more holistic approach than previously thought. It’s not one specific thing that provides a decent level of support but rather a range of factors all working together.
People typically have a small number of immune cells circulating around their body. These cells prefer to hang out in lymphoid tissues and organs like the spleen where your body kills viruses, bacteria, and other microorganisms that cause disease. Because exercise increases blood and lymph flow, it also increases the circulation of immune cells, making them roam the body at a higher rate and at higher numbers. By doing this, they’re better able to seek out pathogens and defend against them. So with kids, keep them active. Do they really need to be on that device another hour or could they do something else to keep those immune cells circulating?
Researchers have found that during sleep, certain components of the immune system go into overdrive, specifically an increased production of cytokines which are associated with inflammation. This inflammatory response may help with recovery, supporting immune defences as the body works to repair wounds or fight off infection. Keep this in mind when your child says they want to stay up another half hour or they’re finding it difficult sleeping through the night.
Water not only helps carry oxygen to cells in your body but it also removes toxins. Drinking more water could help prevent toxins from building up in your child which could negatively affect their immune system. Some kids have no problem drinking water while others struggle if it’s not flavoured up. If you have the latter, try a dash of lemon or lime juice to remove the boring factor.
Let kids be kids
Because of the way we’re living right now, less immune system nasties are getting into the country. That’s good news for a child’s immune system right? Not really. What their immune systems gain by not coming into contact with foreign nasties they lose in not developing a battle ready immune system should an attack occur. It’s for this reason we need to be careful not to cotton wool kids to the point there’s a distinct lack of exposure to microbes, good or bad, that may leave their immune systems unprepared. So let em’ jump in puddles and get amongst it. The more their bodies come up against the more likely they’ll be to defend against it
A balanced diet
It’s become increasingly clear just how critical a balanced diet is to a child’s overall health. Makes sense. Nutrient deficiencies are always going to be the enemy of healthy development, the immune system included. Even here in New Zealand, a veritable food basket of the Pacific, we don’t have every vitamin, mineral and nutrient base covered, examples of which are selenium and iron which are in relatively short supply in our soil. If you think your child could do with a diet aimed squarely at supporting the immune system, try live culture yoghurt for its probiotic qualities, wholegrains for their bioactivity, nuts like walnuts for their Omega-3 content, vitamin C rich foods such as citrus, cranberries, elderberry and blueberries and even eggs and lean meats for their protein, magnesium and zinc. It’s highly likely your child’s diet isn’t far off this already. If so, and if it’s just a case of them needing a top up, have a think about…..
As much as we all want kids chomping on immune supporting foods, the reality is they can be picky eaters and it’s possible they may not be consuming foods actively supporting the immune system. This is when a nutrient top up can help. If you are thinking of giving your child supplements, look for ones specifically designed with kids in mind whether that’s in terms of ingredient type, dosage levels or how kids actually like to take them. We recommend Radiance kids formulas because among many other things, they have formulas specifically designed for kids immune support. Whether it’s an Immune gummie or an advanced Superfood Smoothie, with Radiance they’ll not only be getting the right types of vitamins, minerals and nutrients but also an easy, tasty way to take them. To learn more about Radiance Kids formulas, click here.