Boosting Immunity in Children


It’s always tough seeing seeing my child sick. If she is uncomfortable I want to do anything I can to make her feel better. Even more so, I want to do everything I can to prevent her getting sick in the first place. Elise has not been vaccinated, has never had antibiotics and has received regular chiropractic adjustments from the day she was born. I can probably count the number of major colds she’s had on one hand (aside from little sniffles and stuffiness when she eats dairy). Elise has never had any ear infections, major illnesses, skin conditions or allergies. I truly believe that this is down to a combination of non-vaccination, a healthy diet, natural quality supplements, regular chiropractic and running and bouncing around like tigger a lot! Whilst we don’t claim to have all the answers to raising a healthy child, this seems to be working for us so far.

I found a useful article at Parents.com (below). I am in agreement with all points. One thing I will say though about point 5 “Guard against germ spread” is that the overuse of antibacterial soaps and cleaners in the home can add to the problem of superbugs increasing, just as antibiotics can. So, yes keep a clean home and practice basic good hygiene but try to use natural, non-antibiotic based soaps and cleaners and don’t be obsessive about it!

I also have some tips of my own to share.

1) This is a big one! Increase fermented foods and foods containing pre-biotics and/or use a probiotic supplement. 70 to 80% of our immunity is related to our digestive health. Improve your digestion and improve your immunity. During birth, probiotics from the mother’s birth canal colonize the infant’s gut. After that they need to be ingested through fermented foods or supplements.
Food – I don’t recommend yoghurt myself as I don’t feel dairy is the healthiest option (I will write another article on this soon). However if you want to use a yoghurt – buy an organic natural yoghurt that is free of added sugar, antibiotics, preservatives and colour. Fermented foods are important foods for improving gut flora. A raw sauerkraut or miso soup are good sources. Raw sauerkraut and fresh organic miso soups can be found in the fridges at health stores. My four year old Elise loves both sauerkraut and miso soup so these are easy options. Raw garlic, leeks, onions, and artichokes contain pre-biotics which feed the beneficial bacteria in your gut. For kids – raw garlic in hummus or pestos would be an easy way to get them to eat some.
Probiotic Supplement – Udos Erasmus (see more here) produces children’s probiotics which are dairy free and vegetarian. There is an infants and toddlers formula (0-5 years) and a children’s formula (5-15 years). If you are buying another brand – compare the list of probiotics included and quantity of cells per capsule provided. For the child’s formula (5 years and up) make sure it includes lactobacillus plantarum.

2) Increase raw foods for digestive enzymes. According to Udos Erasmus “digestive enzymes facilitate healthy digestion, improve nutrient absorption and immunity, increase energy levels and decrease inflammation and food allergies”. So try to find fun ways to increase your child’s raw fruit and vegetable consumption. Examples include fruit sticks, fruit smoothies (ideally with some leafy greens added) and guacamole.

3) Reduce Sugar and refined foods – According to Ken Adachi – “In a report published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 100 grams of sugar from glucose, fructose, sucrose, honey or orange juice caused a significant decrease in the ability of white blood cells to engulf and destroy bacteria. This decrease in immune function was still present five hours after sugar was consumed”. To read more please see his excellent article here.

4) Healthy Fats – Jane Sheppard states “Cold-pressed olive and flaxseed oils, fish oils, seeds, nuts, eggs, avocados, grass-fed meats, and butter and whole, raw milk from grass-fed cows are good fat-containing foods. When you limit your child’s fat intake, you may be depriving him or her of essential nutrients. Many low-fat diets are low in zinc and vitamin E. Zinc is essential to growth and proper functioning of the immune system, and vitamin E is an important antioxidant that can help protect against disease. Furthermore, when children are eating a low-fat diet, they typically eat more high sugar and starch carbohydrates, which can lead to blood sugar problems and decreased immunity.”  I’m undecided on the dairy debate myself.  I believe dairy creates a lot of inflammation in the body, is mucus forming and there is actually evidence to suggest that high dairy consumption can actually lead to osteoporosis (by leaching calcium from the bones) rather than prevent it.  I’ll try to write a more detailed article on this soon. See the full article by Jane Sheppard here .

Aside from including healthy fats in Elise’s diet such as from nuts, seeds and avocado, we also supplement her diet with Udos Oil (see more here) and Nutrasea fish oil (see more here).

5) Chiropractic – Chiropractors focus on the spine and the nervous system. As the nervous system works better, the messages from the brain can get to the various areas of the body more easily. As chiropractors adjust the spine, they improve the function of the nervous system which co-ordinates all of your body’s functions including immunity. An example of chiropractic’s impact on children’s immunity follows: A promising study published in the Journal of Clinical Chiropractic Pediatrics indicates that there is a strong correlation between chiropractic adjustments and the resolution of ear infections. 332 children with chronic ear infections participated in the study. Each child, ranging in age from 27 days to 5 years, was given a series of chiropractic adjustments. The results show that close to 80% of the children did not experience another ear infection within the six-month period following their initial visits. The six-month period included maintenance treatments every four to six weeks.

I will follow up soon with an article on other children’s supplements we use.

7 Ways to Boost Your Child’s Immunity (from http://www.parents.com)

What can you do to protect your child from the endless array of germs and viruses he’s exposed to every day? Unfortunately, in some ways, getting sick when you’re a kid is simply part of the job description. “We all enter this world with an inexperienced immune system,” says Charles Shubin, M.D., an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Maryland, in Baltimore. Slowly, children prime their immunity by battling an ongoing series of germs, viruses, and other organisms — which is why many pediatricians consider six to eight colds, bouts of flu, or ear infections per year normal. But there are healthy habits you can adopt that will give your child’s immune system a boost.
1. Serve more fruits and vegetables. Carrots, green beans, oranges, strawberries: They all contain such immunity-boosting phytonutrients as vitamin C and carotenoids, says William Sears, M.D., author of The Family Nutrition Book (Little Brown, 1999). Phytonutrients may increase the body’s production of infection-fighting white blood cells and interferon, an antibody that coats cell surfaces, blocking out viruses. Studies show that a diet rich in phytonutrients can also protect against such chronic diseases as cancer and heart disease in adulthood. Try to get your child to eat five servings of fruits and veggies a day. (A serving is about two tablespoons for toddlers, 1¼ cup for older kids.)

Read the rest of the article here

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