When working properly, the immune system defends our body against invaders, such as viruses and bacteria. Most of the time, the immune system does an excellent job of keeping these at bay. However, there are times when it can become overwhelmed resulting in infections and illnesses.
Before thinking about anything else, the number one thing to get right—or to improve—is their diet. A lack of nutrient-dense foods can lead to low levels of nutrients which are key for the immune system, such as vitamins A and C and minerals iron, selenium, zinc and copper.
Vitamin D is also important for the immune system. It is difficult to obtain sufficient from food, but with short, frequent exposure to sunshine it can be synthesised in the skin. Allow outside play, without sunscreen, for short periods of five to 15 minutes on as many days as possible (however, skin must not be allowed to go pink or red, so fair children will need to cover up after a few minutes). In addition, the government now recommends that everyone take a daily vitamin D supplement.
Foods high in sugar can suppress the immune system, so aim to keep your children within the government’s guidelines for added sugars per day. Many foods contain these, so become familiar with, and check, food labels.
We all understand the importance of exercise—it’s proven to help us mentally and physically. For children, exercise includes playing tag in the playground, an after-school club or walking to school—any activity that raises their heart rate, body temperature and makes the muscles work.
Exercise helps children to strengthen their muscle and bones, increase their self-confidence and make new friends. Importantly, exercise strengthens their cardiovascular system and helps to build a stronger immune system.
Adequate sleep is essential to a child’s health and growth. Studies have shown that when we aren’t getting enough sleep, our bodies become weaker leaving us vulnerable to infections like coughs, colds and flu.
Sleep problems can begin at any age but we can minimise the risk of this with a good bedtime routine:
– Stick to the same bedtime every night
– No technology for at least an hour before bed
– Keep the bedtime environment the same all night (light, temperature)
This article as brought to you by Cytoplan, Food State and Wholefood vitamin and mineral supplements used by health practitioners and doctors all over the world.
Find out more at www.cytoplan.co.uk/