Pioneer Health

Boost the immunity

Boost the immunity

With so many children falling ill during the season change, it is time that parents take steps to build their immunity. Dr Rita Bakshi tells you how

Immunity refers to the body’s biological structure which is made up of special cells, proteins, tissue and organs that are specially developed for fighting of infections and hence preventing illness. But, some time it fails and germs invade successfully and make you sick. Is it possible to intervene in this process and make your immune system Stronger?

If the children are constantly suffering attacks of the sniffles, it might be time to have a look at the foods they are eating and how they affect their immune systems.

What we can do to increase our child immunity? Good immunity’s start is food,mothers should concentrate in keeping more of fresh fruits and vegetables like carrot, greenbeans, oranges and strawberries in there child's diet as they contain phytonutrients as Vitamin C and carotenoids. Phytonutrients are available only in the plant based food it is known to increase body's production of infection fighting white blood cells. Green leafy vegetables( GLV) like spinach, fenugreek (methi), peas etc are also full of antioxidant which helps to increase gut health,so children add one serving of GLV and they will make you as strong as 'Popeye' the sailor man.

Keep your gut healthy. Gut microbiota or gut flora are the complex community of microorganisms that live within your gut. These protect your digestive tract and play a role in supporting your immune system. In children as well as in adults, when the gut bacteria become imbalanced, your ability to fight off infections is altered and you may experience an increase in colds and flu. Recently, our food industry is bombarded with probiotics, which is a live bacterial food stuff containing healthy bacteria like lactobacillus,bifidobacterium and acidophilus which help to boost your friendly gut bacteria which help in fighting invaders. Probiotic present in natural yogurt is good for children. If the child likes yogurt, mothers must include one or two servings of natural yogurt but not flavoured yogurts as they are loaded with sugars and flavouring agents.

Sleep properly. Reduced or less sleep or disturbed sleep deprives the child’s immune system or make it more susceptible to illnesses. It is very important that along with good nutrition, children get proper sleep also. In order to increase your child's quality of sleep, it is important that your child sleeps in a room that is dark. This is because the sleep hormone, melatonin, is secreted in the dark.  Make sure all electronic devices are off before you put your child to bed. Try to keep the timing proper so that the child gets enough sleep to rejuvenate the body well.

Food boosters

  • Citrus fruits: Like lemon, oranges and grape fruit are full of Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) which helps to boost the immune system.

How to feed it: To use it as lemonade, take lemon, sugar, rock salt, mint leaves and water. Mix the entire ingredient in water and squeeze lemon. Can be given to the kids any time

  • Milk and milk products: Milk is the first and foremost food which gives immunity from the day when a kid start having breast milk. The colostrum, which is the first thick milk from mother's breast, works like a vaccine and gives immunity to the child to fight infections. Whole milk and full fat dairy products are good source of calcium which helps your child to develop strong bone and teeth. They also contain Vitamin A, which helps the body resist infections and is needed for healthy skin and eyes. Skimmed and 1% milk are not suitable for children under five. Milk alternatives such as soya drink, can be fed children from the age of one as a part of healthy balanced diet.

How to feed it: Take two dates, wash them, deseed and finely chop them. Boil them with 200 ml milk for three-four minutes. Pour into a glass. If the child does not want to eat the dates in milk, you may sieve it. No need to add sugar as the milk gets sweet with the dates. Dates helps in digestion. It is rich in iron which helps in improving haemoglobin. It is known as 'brain food' as it has phosphorus which supports the function of brain.

  • Beans, meat, eggs, nuts and other proteins: Eggs are not only a good source of protein and iron it also contains Vitamin A, a fat soluble vitamin which is important for immunity as well as its antioxidant properties helps the cells to fight with bacteria and viruses. Meat incredible source of mineral iron and provides heam iron which is very easily absorbed by the body. Adequate amount of iron is important to keep your body healthy and working as its best. Nuts not only having immune boosting power from zinc, iron and the Vitamin B but also have the added value of being source of other vitamin and minerals which support immune system and make it strong.

(The writer is the chairperson, International Fertility Centre).



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