As babies grow into toddlers and toddlers into young children, their immune system is constantly exposed to viruses, bacteria, parasites and fungus, all of which are disease producing organisms known as pathogens. Exposure does not necessarily mean that a child will become unwell because during this process, the body is actually building up a strong resilience against disease, strengthening their natural defence called the immune system. A strong immune system learns to fight off these organisms, whereas not exposing your child to these organisms could result in a weak immune system, making your child more vulnerable to being susceptible to picking up viruses and infections.
Trying to ‘germproof’ your child by not exposing them to any places where these organisms are present, is the wrong thing to do. Germs are everywhere, especially at nursery or at school and being exposed to them to some degree, will help to strengthen your child’s immune system for their childhood and subsequently, their adult life.
Development in Childhood
These early years of development and growth are not only physical, but also emotional. Good diet, plenty of sleep and regular exercise should in theory help your child to get all the nutrients they need, strengthening their immune systems and helping them to develop. However, sadly no matter how good our diet is, our children may not be getting all the nutritional goodness they need. Many people think that diet only affects the physical body, but it also has a huge influence on behaviour, attitudes and mental health.
What Does Your Child Eat?
If a child is pressured by their peers into eating fast food, drinking bad energy drinks and eating high sugared foods and unhealthy fats, then they will be destroying any nutritional value of the good foods they are also eating. Good nutrition is essential throughout our life, but especially when we are developing in childhood. Nutritional deficiencies can be responsible for many chronic immune problems because it’s much easier for viruses and bacteria to invade the body when important nutrients (and good bacteria) are not present in the body. The nutrients that encourage a healthy immune system include essential fatty acids and vitamins A, C and E. The important minerals include selenium, zine, iron, magnesium and copper. These nutrients can be absorbed from foods such as vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts, whole grains and beans. However, much of our food is processed, artificially manipulated and ingredients contain additives that influence poor nutrition.
Key Points to Consider
- Processed foods weaken the immune system
- Sugar weakens the immune system
- Fizzy drinks weaken the immune system
- Hydrogenated oils (deep fried foods, margarine etc) damage immune function and can increase recurrent infections and inflammatory illnesses
Foods rich in essential fatty acids (good fats) – fish oil, flaxseed oil, evening primrose oil & cod liver oil
Fresh fruit and green, leafy vegetables
Live bio yogurt to encourage good bacteria in the gut
Foods with wholegrains, seeds and nuts
Eggs, dairy, fortified cereals
Did You Know?
Over 80% of 12 to 18 year olds suffer from acne. Studies show that nutrition in early years is a key contributor to whether teenagers are affected with skin problems.
By giving your child the essential vitamins and minerals that their body needs, you are not only strengthening their immune system, giving their body the right nutrients for development, but you are also aiding their nutritional needs that will look after their health in years to come.
Balanced and good nutrition in childhood is absolutely essential, poor nutrition will not only weaken the immune system but will invite bad bacteria into the gut that can have lifelong negative effects.
Sadly, even the organic foods that we buy in the supermarket may not offer all the nutrition our children need. Support your child’s immune system, their physical & emotional development.
Disclaimer: The information in this document is not intended to replace orthodox medical treatment. The information offered in this document is offered as additional complimentary information.
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