Supporting immunity through the foods we feed our children.
Every single day our children’s little bodies are achieving phenomenal things. Their bones and muscles are growing, their brains are developing and their immune systems are protecting them.
We all want our children to have strong robust immune systems, now more than ever. Given approximately ¾ of our immune system is found in the gut, we need to keep our little ones gut healthy to keep them healthy. We do this by nurturing it with the right nutrition.
The most important way you can support your child’s immune system is to give them plenty of fibre rich plant foods. Plant foods such as fruit, veg, nuts, seeds, oats, grains and legumes are nutrient rich, immune boosting powerhouses. They naturally contain fibre (otherwise known as prebiotics) which is the essential ingredient for good gut health. Prebiotics are the food (or fuel) for our gut bugs and promote the growth of good bacteria, whilst at the same time nourishing our gut cells. You really can’t underestimate the importance of this.
Probiotics are live bacteria that are found in foods such as yoghurt, yoghurt drinks (such as Vaalia Kids Immunity Boost) and fermented foods. They can help to support the good bacterial communities in our gut to ensure we have the right balance of good and bad bugs – which is very important for our health and well-being.
Top tips for supporting your child’s immune system:
- Offer your children plenty of different coloured vegetables – different colours offer different nutritional benefits
- Cook with onion and garlic and ginger. Use in chopped, grated or minced form.
- Use herbs and spices – they are nutrient powerhouses and are great for the immune system
- Keep the skin on fruit and veg where possible as there are nutrients in and just under the skin (such as in an apple).
- Swap for wholegrain or wholemeal bread – ditch the white!
- Use wholegrain cereals – check for the % wholegrains in the ingredients list and aim as high as possible! Wholegrain products will always provide valuable fibre, nutrients and are low GI (slower release of sugar into the bloodstream)
- Including foods that contain probiotics – this can help to maintain the correct balance of good and bad bugs in the gut, which in turn improves immunity. Vaalia Kids Immunity Boost with probiotics and added Vitamin A and D can provide this support for our children.
- Increase nuts, seeds and legumes as they are loaded with fibre, protein, healthy fats and other valuable nutrients. Spread bread with nut butters or use almond meal/LSA/chia/chopped nuts when baking. Sprinkle nuts or legumes on salads or added to hot meals such as stirfry’s and curries. Dried legumes such as Fav-Va beans and chickpeas are also great options.
Every small change you can make throughout the day will certainly add up. Try to make small changes at most meals and snacks. Over the day and week this will certainly add up and equate to health benefits over time. Good gut health = healthy children = happy parents!
Credit: Karina Savage, Paediatric Dietitian from Smartbite Nutrition