This time of year always makes us think about ways to boost our immune system so that we stay healthy during the fall and winter months. This year in particular is even more precarious as we have to work to protect ourselves and our kids against the flu and Covid-19. Adults (hopefully) take supplements, use herbs and get acupuncture regularly as a means of staying well. However, these approaches are not always useful when it comes to kids. Here are a few helpful tips that help boost your child’s immune system:
- Diet! In Chinese medicine (CM), the quality of our qi (energy) depends on the food that we eat. The digestion is similar to a hot fire and this is how food is transformed into good quality energy—immunity! Therefore, foods that maintain this fire are best to create the best quality qi. Foods should be mostly cooked and beverages should be room temperature or warmer. Use “warming” spices in cooking, such as ginger, garlic and oregano. Avoid or eliminate dairy, as it contributes to phlegm production and inflammation. And, as always, avoid junk food and excessive sweets!
- Elderberry Syrup. The delicious, immune-boosting supplement is GREAT for kids because it is delicious! Whether you make it yourself or buy it in the store, elderberry syrup is a great immune tonic that kids readily take!
- Vitamin D. More research is showing a link between Vitamin D and immune health. Kids’ options usually come in gummy or liquid form, that can be added to the elderberry syrup. Be sure to follow the recommended dosage on the bottle, as Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin and therefore can become toxic in excessive doses.
- Vitamin C. This long-recognizes vitamin is a powerhouse in supporting immune health. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that supports the body’s natural immune system. Make sure your kids are eating foods rich in Vitamin C, such as strawberries, mangoes, cantaloupe, broccoli, brussels sprouts and green leafy vegetables (cooked, of course).
- Probiotics. Just as CM recognizes a connection between digestion and immunity, modern research is also understanding this link as it relates to the gut microbiome. Probiotics are the “healthy bacteria” that populate the intestine and are key in promoting general health and immunity. There are plenty of probiotics for kids that are chewable or in gummy form. Make sure your probiotics are refrigerated!
As a parent myself, I know that kids are not always keen to eat the food that parents provide for them—they can be very particular! Depending on the age of your kids, it is best to introduce the dietary changes slowly and one at a time. Creative cooking at home is a great way to incorporate these changes into your lifestyle. It is also important to make it clear to kids that they’re not taking medicine to treat an illness, but rather supplements that we use to keep them healthy!
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