It’s the start of the school year, which means it’s time for kids to share their germs with anyone and everyone once more. Schools and early education centres are a hotbed of infection. Kids are great, but their immune systems haven’t developed fully yet.
While it’s difficult to completely shield children from getting sick, you can help build your child’s immune system through the foods they eat. Dietitians Australia says certain foods have the exact nutrients that can help your child’s immune system be as strong as possible. It means that when they are exposed to the inevitable germs, their bodies will be ready for the fight.
Certain foods, served all year round, will constantly boost your child’s immune system. Making nutritious meals a priority at the beginning of the school year can reduce the likelihood and severity of coughs and colds.
Consider foods high in vitamin C, like capsicum, broccoli, kiwifruit, strawberries and citrus fruits. Also zinc, which you’ll find in fish and seafood, beef, lamb, baked beans and pumpkin seeds.
Top 5 immunity boosting foods for kids of all ages
So long as your child doesn’t have an allergy, almonds are a great way of boosting immunity. They are packed with vitamin E and manganese, a strong immune-boosting combo that enahnce natural killer cell activity. You can include them solo as a snack, make a smoothie or add them to porridge.
Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries… These guys are full of antioxidants, which help little bodies (and big ones) fight infection. If you can’t get your hands on fresh berries, try frozen — they are just as nutritious. Again, add them to your cereal, make a frozen treat or include them in a pudding.
Research tells us that when you’re low in vitamin D, you are more susceptible to getting sick. Vitamin D is also important for bone health because it helps you absorb calcium from the foods you eat. It can help keep hormones and your nervous system working well too. Eggs are one of the few foods with naturally occurring vitamin D, but they also include immune-boosting nutrients like B vitamins and selenium.
Eggs are delicious for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Have a boiled egg with toast soldiers or an omelette for breakfast, include a hard boiled egg for lunch or a snack, or make egg cups for a quick and easy dinner.
Containing beta glucans, which are a fibre component that activate killer cells that fight bacteria, viruses and other nasties in the body. Oats can be added to your child’s diet at breakfast time. You can also make oat bars with fruits and nuts, or add oats to a muffin mix for a light but hearty snack.
The probiotics in yoghurt stimulate your immune system. We recommend adding a low-sugar or no-sugar yoghurt to your child’s lunch box. You could also substitute ice cream for frozen yoghurt as an after-dinner treat. If you have kids that like vegetables, have them try a yoghurt ranch dip.
When it comes to foods that boost your immune system, variety plays its part too. Different nutrients work to strengthen kids’ immunity. If you’re looking for inspiration, check out our Recipes section. We publish healthy, nutritious meals and snacks every week!
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