Winter is still a while away and inevitably means the presence of runny noses, coughs and sniffles. But, with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) a reality in South Africa, now is the best time to start boosting your child’s immune system. Besides multivitamin supplements, one of the best ways to do this is through including immune-boosting foods in her diet. But what if your child is a fussy eater? How do you get her to eat the right foods that will help keep her immune system healthy?
Sneak these immune-boosting foods into your child’s diet:
Oranges are packed with vitamin C, but they also contain phytonutrients that have strong anti-inflammatory properties. Stick to the actual fruit cut up into quarters rather than orange juice, which usually comes packaged with added sugar and preservatives. If your child isn’t a fan of oranges, try naartjies, which are slightly sweeter and softer – and much easier to peel and pack in a lunchbox.
Almost all berries are a good option for boosting young immune systems, but blueberries are extra special because they’re also high in anti-inflammatory antioxidants. As an added bonus, they’re sweet and delicious, so they’ll typically appeal to young palates.
Like citrus, kiwi fruit is packed with vitamin C, but also with potassium and vitamin K that help your body fight infection. Kiwi is also a winter fruit, so you’ll be buying them in season, which means they’re easier to find and generally less expensive than during summer.
Yoghurt is a great source of vitamin D, which helps strengthen and regulate the immune system. Plus, the probiotics in yoghurt help your child’s gut function optimally (that is, as long as they’re dairy tolerant). Steer clear of the flavoured yoghurts full of sugar and preservatives and stick to full cream or double cream plain yoghurt. To make it more appealing to a sweet tooth, serve it with a squeeze of honey, a sprinkle of raisins or chopped apple on top.
Honey contains antioxidants as well as excellent antibacterial properties that make it an effective immune booster, as well as helping to soothe cold symptoms like sore throats. Best of all, it’s deliciously sweet, but much healthier for your child than sweets or other sugary foods. It can be hard to serve in a lunchbox, so drizzle it over a pot of yoghurt, or add it as a topping on sandwiches.
We all know about the benefits of vitamin C for fighting colds and flu, but vitamin E is another vital element for a healthy immune system. Vitamin E is fat-soluble, so it needs to be consumed with fat in order to be absorbed. Nuts, like almonds, are crammed with vitamin E, but also contain healthy fats, creating the perfect environment for your body to absorb it. Almonds are delicious and easy to store and pack into a lunchbox – just make sure your child’s school doesn’t have a nut-free policy.
Our experienced editors work with trained journalists and qualified experts to compile accurate, insightful and helpful information about pregnancy, birth, early childhood development and parenting. Our content is reviewed regularly by our panel of advisors, which include medical doctors and healthcare professionals. Meet the Living & Loving Team and our Online Experts.