Immunity Boosting Food for Kids - 10 Ways to a Peak Immune System
There are a lot of myths about disease prevention and diet and about how vitamins and supplements can be used to boost the immune system so that you an your kids won't get as many infections. However research has shown that you can't do better than the peak levels.
There is a threshold level of vitamins, nutrients, minerals need to support the immune system and there are no benefits from exceeding these levels. (See: Immunity Boosting Foods - Fact or Fiction?).
If you eat too many carrots you can get cirrhosis of the liver and there are a number of other problems associated with excess vitamin intake. There are also many things you can do to avoid exposure to infections which is another weapon for fighting diseases and infections ( See: How Infections Spread in the Workplace - Sites, Causes, Prevention Strategies ).
Getting kids to eat the right types of foods (vegetables) in adequate quantities is a problem that all parents face ( See:Healthy Foods for Kids | How to Get Children to Eat Vegetables ).
People get sick because of exposure to pathogens such as the cold and flu viruses, allergies, which oddly may be caused by an over-stimulated immune system or through vitamin deficiencies. Getting cold and wet and other behaviours may contribute to the risk that the infections will take hold, but the infectious agents must be hanging around ready to pounce.
Good nutrition, rather than supplements provides the foundation for a fully working and robust immune system. More parents believe that kids that have poor diets (not enough fruit and vegetables) are more prone to infections, and are more likely to be sicker for longer. There is a lot of information about the association between the vitamins and nutrients the immune system needs to remain working at its peak. This list of essential nutrients includes zinc, iron, vitamin E, calcium, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, selenium and a wide range phytochemicals (plant chemicals in coloured vegetables and fruit). Given that no one food has all of these is the right proportions there is no one 'magic' single food that can sustain the immune system ( or probably one 'magic' pill either). Rather a basket-load of different nutritious foods will be needed. This also means that there are 'many ways to skin a cat' if your child doesn't like oranges you can keep their vitamin C levels up by getting them to eat kiwi fruit or strawberries both of which are rich sources of this vitamin. © janderson99-HubPages
Nevertheless you can classify foods into the 'Good, the Bad and the Ugly' in terms of their suitability for providing for the needs of the immune system. Some foods provide good opportunities for providing what your kids need and are generally acceptable in term of getting your kids to eat them.
1. Carrots - the humble carrots one of the richest natural sources of beta-carotene, a natural antioxidant that is also a pre-cursor for vitamin A synthesis in the body. You can use carrot sticks as sticks for dips, snacks or add finely grated carrot to pasta sauce, or add carrot slices to stews.
2. Onions, leeks and garlic - are members of the same family of vegetables that are a source of potassium, vitamin C, dietary fibre and folic acid (see the full details in the list below). They also rich in iron and calcium and have a relatively high protein content. Onions were used by the ancient mariners to prevent scurvy, caused by vitamin C deficiency, in sailors on long voyages. These vegetables also contain the antioxidant quercetin which is antibiotic and anti-viral, which is not destroyed by cooking. Leeks and onions can be added to homemade potato soup. Finely mashed onion and garlic can be added to pasta sauce.
3. Avocado - is rich in vitamin E and many kids will eat it in a variety of ways although not as high in vitamin E as many nuts, seeds, broccoli and wheat it is eaten raw. This important because vitamin E can be destroyed by cooking or storing of foods.
4. Dark Leafy Greens - including water cress, spinach, Asian greens and cabbage. These foods represent a real challenge to many parents whose kids refuse to eat them. It requires a little lateral and creative thinking. Things like green soup or finely shredded greens added. Perseverance often works with older kids - remember that kids may have to try something 20 times before starting to 'like' or accept them.
5. Cauliflower - is another challenge for parents. It is often neglected in favour of broccoli its greener cousin. However some kids will eat cauliflower but not broccoli. Cauliflower is rich in phytochemicals as well as B group vitamins and fibre.
6. Beans, lentils, dhal, chickpeas and other legumes - are rich in soluble fibre, vegetable protein and slow-release starch. They also provide an array of nutrients and vitamins.
7. Nuts and seeds - are nutritional powerhouses and if you can avoid any allergy issues, should be used frequently in a variety of ways. Sprinkle oven-roasted nuts over porridge or cereal at breakfast. Provide mixtures of nuts, dried fruit, seeds and pieces of dark chocolate as snacks throughout the day.
8. Kiwi fruit - are a fabulous food that most kids like and find their appearance interesting. They are extremely rich in vitamin C content, rating second to guava in terms of concentration. Many kids will eat them with a spoon if cut in half. They can also be peeled and added to salads and desserts.
9. Probiotics - there is a growing body of research that suggests that children whose internal bacteria are boosted with good quality probiotic supplements have fewer respiratory infections that last for a shorter period of time. You can use a probiotic yoghurt if you don't want to use a supplement.
10. Turkey leg - most kids love poultry and its worth considering turkey, especially the brown meat that has more iron and zinc than turkey breast. Turkey meat is also rich in selenium, a range of B group vitamins and many other nutrients.
Listed below is a very comprehensive guide to the vitamins and minerals in most of the common foods that are good for supporting the immune system.
Summary of Vitamins and Nutrients in Foods for Boosting Immunity in Kids
© 2012 Dr. John Anderson
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