Colds and flu are a fact of life for all kids, but the food that they eat can help reduce their number of sick days.
We all enter this world with an inexperienced immune system but as we grow, we naturally prime our immunity by battling germs, viruses, and other organisms. While it is quite normal for children to have several colds or bouts of flu - or the dreaded ear infection - each year there are healthy steps you can adopt to give you and your family super-boosted immunity.
It’s important to say that each child is different, but I find these nutrients really important when it comes to supporting the immune system:
Vitamin D: a strong immune modulator and in Australia many of us are actually Vitamin D deficient! As well as vitamin D synthesis in the skin (from the sun) we can also obtain it from dietary intake - salmon, tuna, cod liver oil and sardines are sources of this nutrient.
Vitamin C: a potent antioxidant and is used up rapidly during an infection. Studies show that regular vitamin C consumption reduces the duration and severity of common cold episodes in children. Foods high in vitamin C include citrus fruit, rosehips, strawberries, sweet potato, broccoli and blackcurrants.
Zinc: affects multiple aspects of immune function and a clear link has been established between zinc deficiency and an increased susceptibility to infections. Zinc is associated with reduced duration of cold symptoms, decreased severity of symptoms and a reduced incidence of colds in children. Foods high in zinc include red meat, legumes, shellfish, hemp seeds, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, cashews and eggs.
Vitamin A: extremely important in supporting immune health as it helps to maintain the structural and functional integrity of the airways, gut and genitourinary systems. It's good to remember it is these systems that are our first line of defence against infection. Foods high in vitamin A include liver, cod liver oil, egg yolk, apricots, green leafy vegetables and cheese.
So, whether you're arming your baby or toddler for the cold and flu season or just aiming for good, year-round health, immune-boosting food I find this super-boosted smoothie tastes great - and is full of all the nutrients to keep you and your family healthy and happy. A sweet, nutty snack or a great start to the day, this delicious drink is packed with omega-3’s from the walnuts that support brain health and the free radical fighting antioxidants in the cacao. Enjoy!
25g of walnuts (a small handful)
250ml of water (one cup)
1 frozen banana (frozen bananas are best for smoothies. They give a beautiful creamy texture)
2 scoops of LittleOak Natural Goat Milk (adds extra creaminess and is packed with prebiotics which provide anti-inflammatory and anti-infection properties)
2 pitted dates
2 teaspoons of cacao powder
1 good dollop of almond butter
Cinnamon or cacao nibs to serve