A for Antibiotics, B for bacterial infection, C for cold and D for doctor. Unfortunately, this is what most mothers today are reciting. Kids are very prone to falling sick these days and have to be taken to doctors. Its most often diagnosed as a throat infection, bacterial infection and ends up in A! Yes! Very often an antibiotic is prescribed for your child to fight away the infections. While we all know that an antibiotic may be unnecessary and is not always helpful, we end up giving them to our children. Not that we are unaware of the disadvantages of antibiotics, we give them so that our child recovers faster and get back to his/her routine. For many parents this becomes a monthly cycle. “There should be a way to boost my child’s immunity naturally.” I am sure this thought would have crossed your minds. Think no more!
Listed are a few ways through which you can help your child build a better immune system.
1. Good nutrition:The very foundation of having a strong immune system is through nutrition. Ensure that your child has balanced diets, on regular time, daily. A balanced diet should include foods from different food groups like cereals and pulses, fruits and vegetables, milk and milk products, fats and other protein-rich foods like meat, paneer etc. Avoid processed foods, foods high in sugar, junk foods and saturated fats.
2. Ensure good sleep:Sleep plays a very important role in developing a good immune system. It is recommended that a school going child gets at least 9-11 hours of sleep. Younger children may need more sleep time. Most school going children may not be able to get a nap during the day, so ensure that they go to bed early at night.
3. Give them probiotics:Gut flora help to protect your digestive tract and also support your immune system. It is said that for both children and adults when the gut bacteria are altered or reduced, the body’s ability to fight off infections is altered. One may have an increase in the attacks of cold and flu. Probiotics are a supplement having live bacteria. and can boost the friendly gut bacteria. Curd are natural probiotics that can be taken every day. It contains strains of lactobacillus which are beneficial for your gut health.
4. Exercise and outdoor play:Research shows that exercise increases the number of cells that can fight infections. However, with the invasion of gadgets and other electronic devices, it is seen that outdoor play has reduced drastically for children. Ensure that your child plays outdoor every day. It could be something as simple as a game of basketball or cycling with family/friends. But it is important to have that time in the open where there is a physical activity for the body.
5. Include these spices and herbs:We in the Indian sub-continent hail from the country that discovered and used plants and spices as medicines. There are a number of herbs which help in increasing immunity. Similarly, a lot of spices that we use also have beneficial effects on our health.
• Turmeric: It has an anti-inflammatory property which prevents your child from falling sick often. It is also an anti-oxidant which helps in maintaining a healthy, stomach, intestine and kidney of your child. It is said that turmeric also boosts immunity. Common ailments like cold and flu can be easily prevented if your child has turmeric regularly.
• Ginger: This simple root has a wide range of health benefits. Ginger has anti-oxidant and anti-microbial properties. It is said that Ginger can kill the salmonella bacteria. It also has anti-inflammatory agents, which can kill cold viruses, combat fever, and chills. Ginger also has micro-nutrients like zinc, silicon, and magnesium. Brimming with nutrition and healthy profile, this humble root boosts immunity when consumed regularly.
• Honey: Another gift from nature. This natural product has anti-oxidant and anti-microbial properties that help fight infections from bacteria, viruses, and fungi. It can improve your digestive system, soothe your sore throat and provide relief from a nasty cough. However, honey is not recommended for children below one year of age.
• Tulsi or holy basil: Tulsi helps combat cold and flu symptoms, balances metabolism, helps build stamina and strengthens the immune system. It has a high level of anti-oxidants which acts as a natural immunity booster and promotes anti-viral activities in the body.
• Guduchi or Tinospora cordifolia: This is a climber which has been named Amritavalli in Sanskrit. Amrit means nectar and valli means creeper. The stem of this herb has more medicinal properties compared to the leaves. It is an anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant. This herb helps in maintaining sufficient levels of White Blood Cells (cells which protect our body from diseases) thus boosting the immune system. Include these natural ways to boost your child’s immunity and avoid that dreaded anti-biotic. After all, having a strong immune system is the key to good health and healthy living. As parents, the best gift we can give our children is a healthy body and mind which will prepare them for their future.