The cold season is upon us and with it, colds, flus and all manner of cold-related infections. While a dash to the medicine cabinet seems like an obvious answer, frequent use of antibiotics suppresses your child’s immunity, making them vulnerable to recurring infections. So whether you’re already battling an infection or looking to ward off one, stock up on the following list of immune boosting foods to maintain your child’s healthy kick.
Vitamins rule in the world of immunity. However, they are unproduced by the body and require external sourcing from foods. When dealing with colds, vitamin C is king. It contains phyto-nutrients, which increase the body’s production of white blood cells and an antibody that coats cell surfaces, blocking out viruses. Vitamins A and D also help regulate mineral metabolism and cell and tissue growth differentiation respectively.
Sources: Citrus fruits, red and green peppers, potatoes, oily fish such as Nile perch (mbuta) and milk.
Just like vitamins, the body sources for minerals externally. They come in a wide range but for strengthened immunity, zinc and iron are your best bets. Colds are viral, meaning you have to wait out its five to seven day lifespan. However, a 2012 Canadian study showed taking zinc lozenges especially within 24 hours of the cold onset can reduce its life span. Iron aids in production of white blood cells, antibodies and transporting oxygen.
Sources:Eggs, seafood, red meat, whole grains, soybeans, nuts, vegetables and fruits.
The almighty anti-oxidant
Herbs and spices contain a wealth of antioxidants, which protect cells from damage by free radicals in the body. To deal effectively with a cold or keep it at bay, get comfy with good old garlic. Touted to have a wider antibiotic spectrum than penicillin, its components have been proven to inhibit the uptake of viruses by the body. Ginger, famous for its relieving properties also helps, while turmeric and oregano pack quite the punch.
Sources: Garlic, berries, oregano, ginger, parsley.
Probiotics are helpful bacteria living in the digestive system. They aid in digestion and bowel movement while creating an optimal functioning environment for the digestive tract as majority of the body’s immune system lies in this area. In case you are already administering antibiotics, then replenishing probiotics is key as antibiotics tend to kill them off. Combine probiotics with prebiotics (non-digestible carbohydrates which act as food for probiotics and can be found in bananas, garlic and onions) and you have a winning formula.
Note that these nutrients are not silver bullets and do not work in isolation. To create the best immune system, maintain a balanced diet.
Published in June 2015