Our immune systems are designed to keep bad bacteria and germs away and prevent us from getting sick. As children are developing, so are their immune systems, which can leave them vulnerable to harmful bacteria. Germs are all around us and can be helpful in boosting immune systems as our bodies adjust and identify bacteria to fight off. As a child develops and their bodies become stronger, there are tips and tricks that can be implemented in your daily routine to help boost their immune systems.
Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring and tuna contain omega 3 fatty acids, which help fight infection. Omega 3 intake is linked to a boost in immune system function as well as nervous system function. Incorporating oily fish into your child’s diet between once and twice a week will help boost their immune system.
A Variety of Fruits and Vegetables
Allowing your child to try a range of different fruits and vegetables is not only exciting and fun for them, but also gives them exposure to so many different vitamins and minerals. Some of the most important minerals are zinc, copper, iron and magnesium. As well as this, phytonutrients found in fruit and veg have immune boosting qualities that help the body create more white blood cells.
Avoiding Processed Foods
Sugar has no nutritional value and has been shown to reduce white blood cell count, which is an indicator of immune strength. Hydrogenated oils found in deep fried foods and baked goods have been linked to recurring infections and inflammatory conditions in children and should be avoided as much as possible. Over celebratory periods such as Christmas and birthdays, where cake, sweets and treats high in sugar are typically consumed, it is ideal to increase vitamin C intake to help prevent illness.
The Power of Sleep
Getting the right amount of sleep can have considerable health benefits for children and adults. For children specifically, a lack of sleep can make them more susceptible to illness as it reduces white blood cells that help the immune system fight infection. The amount of sleep a child should have per day is dependent on their age, but sits between 10 and 18 hours per day. As well as the amount of sleep a child has, the quality of that sleep is equally as important. A deeper sleep state allows the body to rest and replenish.
Keep Stress Levels Low
It is important to recognise that children pick up on stress levels and can get stressed just like adults. When a child is stressed, their cortisol and adrenaline levels rise, which lowers the immune systems’ response to bad bacteria. By encouraging laughter and positivity, you stimulate white blood cells which in turn boost the immune system.
Embrace Mother Nature
Encouraging children to spend time outside in the fresh air is important for many reasons including their health. Spending a lot of time inside means you are constantly breathing in stale and recirculated air. Fresh air that contains an amalgamation of bacteria’s is great for stimulating the immune system. Being outside in different environments allows the body to register those different bacteria and figure out if they are a threat. The more bacteria you come into contact with, the more your body can recognise and fight off. In addition to this, a healthy intake of vitamin D from sunlight helps regulate the immune system.
Physical activity flushes bacteria out of the lungs and airways so may reduce chances of getting a cold or flu. Getting hot during and after exercise may also prevent bacteria from growing. The rise in temperature may help the body to fight off an infection, similar to when you have a fever.
Try and spend 30 minutes a day of moderate exercise and make it fun! Skipping, kicking a football, playing tag or cycling.
By following these suggestions you can help your child live healthily and with a stronger immune system that is able to fight off common illnesses. Of course this won’t guarantee your child will never get ill, but it will help.
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