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Strengthen your child's immunity this winter

By Stacey Shapiro June 22, 2022

Strengthen your child's immunity this winter

As the winter season approaches, there is a collective groan among parents of young children as they prepare for weeks on end of runny noses, lingering coughs, and unhappy faces. With only a finite number of sick days, it can quickly become a parent’s worse nightmare if their child suffers from the cold or flu more than once this season.

Respected naturopath, nutritionist and children’s nutrition book author, Clare Zivanovic, is passionate about children’s health and wellness. Here, she gives her advice and tips to help parents and children prepare to conquer the cold and flu season in 2022!

How can parents best prepare their children's immune systems for winter? 

NOW is the ideal time to zap your child’s immune system into a bug-zapping wizard! Begin by looking at your child’s diet to ensure they’re eating a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and proteins every day, plus drinking plenty of water. By doing this and eating only a minimal amount of processed and pre-packaged foods, the immune system will have all the magic nutrients it needs to shine. 

Using immune-boosting supplements, like vitamin C and zinc, before winter arrives, then throughout the cooler months, is a smart way to further prime your child’s immunity. 

Preparation for winter also involves being mindful of any pre-existing health conditions. Be proactive in keeping these under control during the cooler months, as many ailments trigger an inflammatory cascade that drains the immune system’s bug-zapping resources. If this happens, the body’s ability to guard against cold and flus may be compromised. 

Finally, remind your child that it’s important to thoroughly wash their hands regularly, and even check that they know how to do so. Teaching your child about hand washing is a simple, yet empowering health practice.

What is your go-to remedy for a mild fever?

Cucumber Juice! Fresh cucumber juice has a cooling effect on the body, which is especially useful if your child has a mild fever. It’s also loaded with water and hydrating minerals and enzymes that help counter dehydration. At the first sign of a fever, give your child a glass of fresh cucumber juice and ask them to sip on it as often as possible.

NB: Eating cucumber will not have the same healing impact that cucumber juice can in this instance.

What is your go-to remedy for a blocked nose?

Steam Inhalations, as steam helps to thin the mucous and encourages it to drain from the nose.

Fill a glass bowl with hot water. Then, slowly bring your head close to the water, with your eyes closed, being sure not to make contact with the water. You want to be just close enough to feel the gentle steam touching your face. Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose for about 2-5 minutes. Adding 1-2 drops of tea tree oil or eucalyptus oil to the water may improve the steam’s decongesting properties, but please only use oils that you know are safe for you and your family.

If children keep getting sick, what can parents do to strengthen the immune system?

If your child keeps getting sick, it’s time to activate an immune-boosting routine that includes the following:

Immune-Boosting Supplementation: Look for a tummy-friendly multivitamin to boost overall vitality, as well as products that contain vitamins A, C, E, zinc, echinacea and/or elderberry.

Exercise: Both gentle and vigorous movement help boost the circulation of immune cells.

Thymus Tap: This ancient practice wakes up the thymus gland, which plays an important role in immunity and the release of infection-zapping white blood cells. You can do this with your child each morning, and as needed throughout the day. Simply bring both of your hands to the centre of your chest and use your fingertips to tap this area 20-30 times.

Sleep: Ensure your child is sleeping well and that their stress levels are under control. Supplementing with magnesium can help improve sleep, lower anxiety, and support immunity.

BONUS TIP: Consider your child’s gut health, as this has a huge impact on immunity. Ask yourself - Do they often have a sore tummy? Do they poop regularly? Are they prone to diarrhoea? All of these signs warrant investigation, and if you’re concerned, please speak with your health professional for healing advice.

What are your favourite foods for children?
  • Bananas: Rich in minerals and B vitamins to support the brain, immunity, energy, and nervous system.
  • Berries: Loaded with nutrients and special antioxidants that boost vitality and immunity.
  • Sweet Potato: Known as an anti-stress food, they’re incredibly nutritious and magical for the skin, eyes and immune system.
What can you suggest for parents of fussy eaters? How can they get the right nutrition into their children?

While it pays to get sneaky and hide as many fruits and vegetables in your cooking as possible, this isn’t always enough. In this instance, food-based supplementation is useful as it’s a simple way to correct and prevent nutrient deficiencies. I love minimally processed, fruit and vegetable powders for fussy eaters as they’re loaded with SO much goodness and usually taste good too.

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