Since a child’s gut and immune system is always adapting we can help our children to develop a healthy response to viruses and other infections that they encounter. We asked the expert, Glaudia Galate, Functional Nutritionist, and busy mom who believes healthy eating should be simple and enjoyable. See what sources of food she recommends to support our kids’ immune systems. Enjoy also lunchbox ideas we curated from the community to help you get started!
Sources of Food to Support the Immune System
Most micronutrients including vitamins, minerals, polyphenols, and fatty acids, have a role to play in building a healthy immune response and this is why a varied diet bursting with lots of fresh fruits, veggies, salads, herbs, spices, pulses, nuts, seeds, poultry, meat, and fish really do count.
Whatever the food you get, you want to make sure that they are loaded with Vitamin D, C and Zinc, and Selenium this season.
Vitamin D: Because your kids may have spent more time inside than normal, even during the summer. Vitamine D is modulating immune cells in the body, bone health, cell growth, and more.
The best sources of vitamin D: 5-30 minutes of sun exposure at least twice per week (over 100 percent of daily value), Cod Liver Oil, fish like wild-caught salmon, Mackerel, tuna, sardine, beef liver, egg. Pro Tip: Go for a daily walk and play outside for at least 20 minutes to maximize your vitamin D intake.
Vitamin C: Helps both with wound healing and fights infections effectively.
The best sources of vitamin C: Black currants, kiwi, bell peppers, leafy greens like kale, spinach, broccoli, parsley. Berries (all types, including strawberries, camu, acai, etc.). Pro Tip: Squeezing lemon or lime juice onto foods will also give you a bit of vitamin C.
Zinc: Helps the kids’ learning, growth, and immunity. Interestingly zinc is also important for a healthy sense of smell and taste and we often find that the “fussy eaters” are low in zinc and when you boost this up they are more interested in trying a wider variety of foods, and their appetite improves. Most zinc comes from animal products.
The best sources of zinc: Beef, fish, oysters, crab, beans, lentils, pumpkins seeds, cashews, egg. Pro Tip: You can maximize your kid’s zinc intake (around 5 mg per day) via a whole beef burger or through a few meatballs. A half a can of baked beans is around 3 mg.
Selenium: Benefits immunity because it is needed for the proper functioning of the immune system and can also be a key nutrient in counteracting the development of viruses. It’s also a powerful antioxidant.
The best sources of selenium: Brazil nuts, eggs, liver, tuna, cod, and sunflower seeds. Pro Tip: A single Brazil nut will provide more than enough selenium for kids per day.
If you want more ideas and tips to boost your immune system don’t hesitate in contacting Glaudia. Also, always ask a physician or health care provider before giving any supplements.
How to Boost Your Kid’s Immune System through Food
Start with simple food ideas that kids will respond to like pomegranate seeds, plums, nectarines, yellow or orange peppers, or purple carrots, and sweet potatoes. Try to introduce your child to one new food ingredient every week at home – pop something a bit novel and exciting in your shopping trolley and they might surprise you and like it. If they don’t like a food straight away, then don’t fret as you can try again another day or serve it in another way.
You can also visit Teuko.com and discover daily lunchbox ideas from other parents, who, like you, want to add new foods and new textures to their kid’s lunches. You can explore various food combinations by searching for the ingredients you like on Teuko.com.