Immunity in Children:
As children grow, what they need is a balanced diet, rich in protein, vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and carbohydrates to strengthen their immunity. When I used to ask our pediatrician about specific foods for my son while growing, he always used to emphasize, that make your child eat everything “healthy“. A combination of a healthy balanced diet provides us with a varied range of nutrition and this, in turn, maintains the normal immune function in kids and even in adults.
As my son started eating solids, the first thing I started doing was creating an immunity-boosting oriented meal plan that has an abundance of Vitamins, Minerals, and Phytonutrients (as Carotenoids).
Here are some 10 foods that should be included in a child’s overall meal plan:
1. Oranges, Kiwi, Broccoli:
Foods dense in Vitamin C are important to maintain the body’s first line of defense in preventing infection. An Orange, Guava a day or mix of fruits like melon, kiwi, mangoes, papayas, raspberries, strawberries provide kids (4-8years) their RDA of 25mg
Broccoli is a nutritional powerhouse. Not just Vitamin C, it is rich in Vitamin A, E and lots of antioxidants. We add Broccoli in pasta, and also love Broccoli soup. Broccoli poppers and Broccoli cheesy bites are some hit snacks for kids.
2. Sweet Potato, Carrots, Blueberries, Red Grapes:
Beta carotene (orange-yellow pigment) increases the number of white cells which are important for a body’s defense mechanism. It is found in are many delicious foods like sweet potato, carrots, oranges, papayas, and peaches.
Sweet potato muffins, baked sweet potato, grated carrot-milk are something we love as a family.
The phytochemical found in blueberries and red grapes play a very important role in enhancing the innate immune system. All berries, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, cranberries, etc. should be given to kids as they are rich in anti-oxidants.
Our lil one loves berry yogurt and mixed berry smoothies.
3. Crunchy Almonds:
Almonds are dense in vitamin E and manganese, both important for stronger immunity. Kids can have soaked almonds simply as a snack if not, it can be added in smoothies too.
4. Cottage Cheese:
Selenium is an essential mineral especially important for kids with compromised immune systems. Plant-based foods like whole grains, brown rice, cottage cheese, sunflower seeds, garlic are a good source of this mineral.
Foods containing Omega-3 Fatty acids top the chart as immunity boosters. Kids should have a handful of roasted/raw walnuts daily. Flaxseeds, flax oil are also good sources of Omega-3. Since kids love berry smoothies, a tablespoon of flax oil can be added to smoothies too.
6. Humble Spinach:
Spinach is rich in vitamins A, E, C, and K, and minerals as folate, manganese, zinc, selenium, and iron. Kids love to have spinach as Palak-Paneer, Palak paratha’s, and Spinach-corn cheese sandwich.
7. The goodness of seeds, Tofu:
Researches have proved that people deficient in zinc have a poor immune system. The RDA of zinc is less, just 5mg (4-8year old) and can be easily met with a variety of seed mixture (pumpkin, sunflower, flax seeds). Tofu and chickpeas are also rich in Zinc.
8. Fiber-rich Whole Grains:
Include a lot of whole grains in kids’ diet through berry oats, or oatmeal with cinnamon. Whole grain bread/toast (with berry/fruit jams), whole wheat crackers, whole grain pancakes, whole grain pasta are good sources of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals.
9. Yummy Yogurts:
Rich in probiotics, yogurts stimulate the immune system. Be sure, not to give kids yogurts laden with sugar. Yogurt can be made at home with strawberry/mixed berry, banana-berry, mango, or plain yogurt with some maple syrup, which kids will love.
While food is the best source of nutrients, it is possible that your kid still may not receive all the nutrients he or she needs to have a strong immune system. Especially when your child is a picky eater. Here, supplements like PediaSure are a boon. Not only does it come with 37 vital nutrients that takes care of any nutritional gaps, but also has immuno-nutrients to help boost your child’s immunity.
Hope this helps you in creating an immunity-boosting oriented meal plan perfect for your child!References:
The views expressed in the blog content are independent and unbiased views solely of the blogger. Any decision to give supplements regarding your child’s health should be done after consultation with your doctor.
Stay Safe and Healthy!