Have you ever felt scared that your child gets a cold or a fever? It is a devastating time for a parent and we all try to avoid such situations as much as we can. Especially in these times, when we are in the midst of a global pandemic. For parents, keeping their children healthy and strong is more important than ever.
So how can we protect our children from getting sick? The only way is to develop immunity in your child. Our immune system is designed to create antibodies to fight any type of infection or virus that the child tends to face. Getting sick (including fever, infections) 4-5 times a year for a child is normal, as it helps the body develop immunity. Anything beyond 5 must be addressed to increase immunity.
A newborn’s immune system does not develop until 2-3 months of age. Breast milk plays a very important role in helping the baby develop immunity. Did you know The baby can communicate with the mother through her saliva and personalize the next food. If the baby needs more water, more antibodies to fight an infection, the mother’s body obeys its command and they get what they need. Fascinating, right? Therefore, it is important to breastfeed the child exclusively for the first 6 months and extensively up to 24 months. This firmly establishes the base of immunity for babies.
What can we do to increase the child’s immunity after 6 months, when we introduce solids?
The first solid food that parents offer the baby must be rich in iron since breast milk is depleted of this micronutrient. Iron is a fundamental element and plays an important role in the immune system. A diet with less iron can cause anemia and weaken the immune system.
We often focus on macronutrients, but parents must understand that a child’s diet must also be rich in micronutrients.
Foods rich in vitamin C such as amla, guava, orange and lemon can help increase immunity and also better absorption of iron. Foods rich in vitamin B6 such as chenna, chicken, and fish support the immune system, and foods rich in vitamin E such as nuts and seeds can help fight infection.
A diet rich in junk food, processed foods, and sugar can cause inflammation in the body that can alter the immune system. Add turmeric, ginger to the diet that can reduce inflammation. The immune system emits a hormone called cytokines that helps to heal and repair internally. Good sleep is required for cytokines to work in the body. Establishing a heart rate can help you sleep well. Try to schedule a time to wake up and go to bed.
A healthy digestive system improves the functioning of the body and the brain. Adding probiotics like fermented vegetables, curd, and buttermilk can help develop good bacteria in the digestive tract, which in turn makes it healthy.
Try adding micronutrients in their natural form, as it encourages clean eating and can also improve overall body health. Try offering a salad or millet-based meal as a snack instead of processed foods. You can also ensure that your child gets the correct amount of micronutrients through food fortification. This is a process of adding essential nutrients to food.
A balanced nutritious diet can do wonders for your child’s immunity. If they are picky, develop a habit of exposing your child to natural foods instead of junk food. These nutritional tips and guidelines can help boost your child’s immune system. Therefore, increase children’s immunity, stay healthy and stress free. Let go of fear.
– Dr. Sivaranjani Ganapathy is Director – Amato, Women’s Health Coach – Wellbeing with Sivi
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