How to boost your child’s immunity

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It’s that time of the year again. The weather is changing and every other person you meet is nursing a cold or a fever. As your child sits in a class of many, he may be vulnerable to contagious diseases, as his immunity is not fully developed yet. These pointers will ensure that your child returns home happy and healthy!

Regarding illnesses

The old adage – ‘Starve a cold, feed a fever’ has no medical basis. If your child is ill, giving him home-cooked light and nutritious food is most important for his speedy recovery.

There is no evidence to prove that a child having a mild illness needs complete bed rest. Children, if tired, will voluntarily take rest.

Supplements containing vitamins A, C, E and zinc are important to help fight infections. A few drops of flaxseed oil or cod liver oil added to milk is another option to get omega 3 fatty acids. Fish, especially salmon, is another good source.
Nowadays preparations of immunoglobulins are available in powder form. They can be helpful to fight severe illnesses. They confer passive immunity.

Regarding food

Stop yourself from cajoling or force-feeding a child who does not eat well. Remember, children have moods too and some are naturally fussy. Offer nutritious food to your child but be prepared for it to be rejected.

Try putting foods of different colours on your child’s plate. Reds like beetroot and carrot are good for vitamin A, yellows like citrus fruits provide vitamin C, greens like spinach and fenugreek are rich in iron and poultry is high in zinc.

Remember, natural food wins hands down over processed food every time. Beware of high-calorie, high-salt snacks and artificially sweetened drinks. Let your child sip coconut water and buttermilk in abundance. Don’t keep aerated drinks at home.

When it comes to breakfast cereals, choose unsweetened types. Instead, add fruits, raisins or chopped dates to make the cereal sweeter.

Encourage eating fruits and raw vegetables when you child feels peckish. If you do the same, your child is bound to take a cue and follow suit. Citrus fruits like orange, sweet lime and Indian gooseberry (amla) have a high vitamin-C content which boosts immunity.

Probiotics increase digestive ability. They are present in curds. Also eat fermented food like idlis and dosas.

Regarding activity

Physical activity for all age groups is an absolute must. Find out which sports or games interests your child and enroll him in a class to learn it. A sport inculcates discipline and keeps a child fit too.

Be wary of environmental factors. Avoid taking your child to polluted areas or places where people are smoking. Frequent parks instead.

Attitude is the key to a healthy and happy child. Encourage your child to think positively in all situations. A child must talk to a trusted adult about emotions like anger and grief before he can overcome it. Encourage ‘sharing your day’ as a family activity to bond with your kids a little more.

Laughter is a proven remedy to boost immunity. Watching a comic film and even laughing at life’s quirks perk up the fighter cells in the body. Do join in!

Dr Nisreen Nakhoda, General Physician
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