How Can We Strengthen Your Child’s Immune System?
What are the main ways to strengthen the immunity of children and protect them from diseases?
Having a strong immune system is an important factor in the fight against diseases. It is much easier than going to the hospital to support your child’s immunity and thus prevent frequent illness. It is very important to keep the immune system strong, especially during epidemic periods. However, strengthening the immune system does not happen overnight; That’s why it’s important to regularly apply certain immune-boosting principles.
How does the immune system work? Why is the immune system weakened?
If the immune system cannot destroy the microbes where it enters the body, it tries to prevent its spread and keep it as an infection limited to that area only. The immune system maintains these functions throughout life and protects us against diseases. Immune system functions are fulfilled by the cooperation of many organs such as white blood cells, thymus gland, spleen, lymph nodes and bone marrow. Diseases that may occur in any of these create a weakness in the immune system. Childhood diseases and vaccinations, especially breastfeeding, contribute to the development of the immune system. Infectious diseases are more common in childhood. The immune system is weakened by malnutrition, adverse environmental conditions, insomnia, extreme fatigue and stress.
1. Regular and adequate sleep strengthens immunity
One of the most important ways to strengthen immunity is regular and adequate sleep. Adequate sleep positively affects all kinds of development, health and success of the child at school. The immune system of children who go to school with insufficient sleep weakens and children become more vulnerable to diseases. Children who are accustomed to a more comfortable sleep pattern during the summer months or during homeschooling may find it difficult to get regular sleep after they start going to school. For this, it is necessary to arrange their sleep in a certain order.
2. Dress appropriately for the season and take it outdoors every season.
Although it is recommended to stay at home during epidemic periods, getting out to the fresh air is important for the immune system. It should be ensured that the child spends time outdoors by dressing appropriately for the season and taking the necessary precautions. It is important to strengthen the child’s immunity to benefit from daylight and open air, paying attention to social distance and mask to protect from Covid-19 and similar effects. Ventilate the home environment frequently and take care that the room temperature does not exceed 24 degrees.
3. Have your vitamin D level measured
Sun rays are the main source for the synthesis of vitamin D in the body. Vitamin D supports the immune system and is important for overall health. In the winter season, the rate of exposure to sunlight decreases considerably, as we usually spend time indoors. In order to keep the level of vitamin D in the body at the desired rates, it is useful to start taking vitamin D supplements as necessary, preferably in the autumn months. For all babies under the age of 1, it is recommended to supplement with vitamin D at the dose recommended by the doctor throughout the year.
4. Pay attention to a regular and balanced diet throughout the year
Paying attention to nutrition only when sick or during epidemic periods is not a solution. The most important thing is that a healthy and balanced diet is always applied to our children in the growth and development process. With regular consumption, the body adapts and the immune system is strengthened. For this reason, a healthy diet plan, which includes more foods that protect against the flu, should be applied in children every period.
5. Breakfast is important
In order for our body to cope with viruses and cold, our immune system must be strong. In order to strengthen our immune system, it is necessary to have a balanced and high-quality diet. The first rule of balanced and quality nutrition; to have full meals and most importantly not to skip breakfast! Some children do not like breakfast and want to skip breakfast. However, skipping or skipping breakfast causes missing the opportunity to take many nutrients. A child who does not have a good breakfast may not be satiated enough and may be deficient in many nutrients, especially protein. Providing a healthy breakfast meal supplemented with greens rich in vitamin C such as parsley and tomatoes according to the season provides a healthy start to the day. If necessary, the importance of breakfast should be discussed with the child, and arrangements should be made on what is eaten in the evening and waking times.
6. Eggs are essential for the immune system!
For a strong immune system, eggs are indispensable for breakfast, especially in children. Egg is an exemplary protein for us. Nearly one hundred percent is used in the body, so it is included in our diet as a quality protein source. Since it is a quality protein, it is extremely useful to strengthen immunity. Egg yolk is very rich in vitamin A. We especially need to give it to our children every day. For breakfast, cheese varieties are as important as eggs. Yeast foods are recommended for our intestinal system and intestinal health is very important for a strong immune system.
7. Don’t Neglect Omega 3
Nuts such as walnuts, hazelnuts, dark green leafy vegetables and especially fish should be consumed regularly during the winter. Omega-3 in the content of these foods is an important nutrient that protects our immunity, prevents the infection from progressing much further and even regresses. Therefore, it is necessary to consume fish once or twice a week, dark green leafy vegetables and nuts in certain portions every day.
8. Increase consumption of fresh vegetables
All vegetables, not just dark green leafy ones, are important in strengthening the immune system. Both fresh and cooked vegetables have an effect on strengthening immunity. Vegetables, which are very rich in vitamin C and antioxidants, experience some loss in terms of B and C vitamins when cooked. For this reason, cooking in its own juices at low temperature and steam for as little time as possible is beneficial in terms of not losing vitamins. Consumption of raw vegetables is also necessary to make the most of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Vegetables such as red cabbage, onions, carrots and radishes can be added to salads in terms of vitamins A and C. You can offer vegetables in different ways to your children who want to have strong immunity but do not like vegetables. It may be an option to use broccoli as a tree in the plates you prepare for your younger children, or you can add meat to your vegetable dishes, make soup from mixed vegetables and feed them. In winter, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, parsley, carrots, zucchini, spinach, green pepper are recommended as useful vegetables for immunity. These foods are rich in various vitamins (A, E, D, C) and minerals (magnesium, potassium, selenium, zinc, etc.).
9. By the power of fruits!
Antioxidant and vitamin-rich fruits should be regularly included in children’s snacks. With a colorful eating habit, fruits of different colors that you will eat during the day will provide a more diverse vitamin, mineral and antioxidant intake. It is more beneficial to consume fruits as a whole instead of consuming their juice. In this regard, encourage your child to consume fruit itself instead of fruit juice. Instead of juice, you can prepare homemade vegetable juices with some fruit added in them. You can add different flavors to apple, kiwi, tangerine, orange with ginger.
10. Iron and zinc minerals are important
It should not be forgotten that iron, zinc and magnesium are also very important in maintaining immunity. For this reason, nuts, legumes, meat-chicken-fish and brown bread must have a place in our children’s diet. Anemia caused by iron deficiency among children affects immunity. It is recommended to eat plenty of iron-rich foods (meat, molasses, raisins, eggs, etc.) to prevent anemia. Recent studies have confirmed the great role of the element zinc in human health. Zinc is found in chickpeas and meat. Keep your children away from refined foods as much as possible. Zinc is a mineral that strengthens the immune system, which is abundant in lobster, beef and lamb, and slightly less in beans, pumpkin and cashews. Consuming it regularly for 5 months reduces the risk of viral infections – especially colds – and antibiotic use.
11. Don’t neglect your vaccinations
Although discussions to the contrary may seem confusing, vaccination is very important in terms of preventable diseases. It is possible to be protected with vaccination not only from Covid-19, but also from various childhood infectious diseases, such as diseases that have been wiped out from the ground thanks to long-term vaccination programs. Get all vaccinations from your child’s birth. If babies are not vaccinated, their bodies are powerless against germs that can cause illness. Infancy is the most vulnerable period as the immune system is not yet sufficiently developed.
12. Breast milk up to the age of two
The most valuable nutrient in the newborn period is breast milk. The benefits of breast milk, which is your child’s first vaccine, which cannot be produced in any way, are endless. Breast milk contains antibodies produced against diseases that the mother has passed on. This makes each mother’s milk a unique protector for her baby.
13. Hand washing habit
Although we have learned how important hand cleaning is in preventing the spread of diseases with the covid-19 pandemic, it is always useful to explain the importance of hand washing to children. Teaching children to wash their hands correctly in order to protect themselves from infectious diseases is a lifelong habit that they will gain only during epidemic periods.
14. Build age-appropriate and regular exercise habits
A sedentary lifestyle is not suitable for the development of the musculoskeletal system and invites the weakening of the immune system. Activities that can be done at home, such as yoga and dance, are very beneficial in terms of adding mobility to your child’s daily life, even if he or she does not do sports outside. Exercises that accelerate metabolism and increase blood circulation also increase breathing capacity and strengthen the body in every aspect.
15. Take advantage of herbal supplements
Although it is useful to consult a doctor or health specialist when using supplements that strengthen immunity in children, you can bring herbal teas used in daily life such as linden and echinacea to your table. Echinacea is known to boost the immune system and lower the risk of respiratory infections and bronchitis. The recommended daily dose for children 2-5 years old is 7.5 ml; This is equivalent to 1.5 teaspoons. For children aged 6-11, 10 ml or 2 teaspoons per day is sufficient. The same dose can be used in children over 12 years old and adults.