Building Immunity in Children
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Preventive Care
Children’s Health

Building Immunity in Children

20 December 2023 · 5 mins read

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From eating a balanced diet to managing stress and exercising daily, find out how to strengthen your child’s immune system.

Importance of Building Immunity in Children

We live in a world where the population of new microbes and their variants is growing daily. Look at the number of Coronavirus variants we have heard of in the last 3 years!

The human body comes in contact with several pathogens every day. Every time our body comes in contact with a virus or bacteria that causes a disease, antibodies are released, which protect the body against infections. This defence mechanism is called immunity – our body's ability to fight against disease-causing germs.

Building immunity in children is crucial for several reasons. Good immunity is a key component of overall well-being. It ensures that the body's defence mechanisms function optimally, contributing to better energy levels, mood, and overall quality of life.

A strong immune system helps protect children from various infections, viruses, and bacteria that can cause illnesses. This is especially important in environments such as schools, where children are in close contact and can easily transmit infections.

In case a child does get sick, a robust immune system allows for quicker recovery. A well-functioning immune system can identify and combat pathogens more efficiently, reducing the severity and duration of illnesses.

Developing a strong immune system during childhood sets the foundation for better long-term health. Children with a healthy immune system are less likely to develop chronic illnesses later in life.

Tips to Build Immunity in Children

Here are some tips for building immunity in your little ones:

  1. Eating a balanced diet

    A balanced diet contains the proper amount of nutrients the body needs to remain healthy, grow and be disease-free.

    A "healthy" diet for children entails a balanced and nutritious eating pattern that includes adequate servings of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein sources, calcium, and healthy fats.

    Eggs contain essential vitamins like A, B12 and nutrients like selenium and zinc. They also have a good amount of Omega-3 fatty acids, minerals, proteins, and antioxidants.

    Fish and meat are excellent sources of zinc, iron, and Vitamin B. Fatty fish such as salmon also contains large amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids, which help boost immunity.

    Vegetables such as spinach, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage help to boost your child's immunity. They have essential vitamins such as C, E & K and minerals. They are also a good source of fibre.

    Fruits such as oranges and grapefruit are highly beneficial in boosting immunity due to the abundant presence of Vitamin C and minerals.

    Yoghurt contains probiotics that help to improve gut health, digestion, and overall well-being. Additionally, it has essential nutrients such as calcium and potassium.

    Seeds such as sesame, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, etc., are loaded with plant-based omega-3 fatty acids, fibre, healthy fats, and micronutrients, which help to boost the immune function.

    Cranberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries are packed with powerful nutrients and antioxidants. They help to strengthen your child's immune system by fighting oxidative stress.

    Processed foods, items containing added sugars, and unhealthy fats—specifically saturated fats commonly found in animal products—are best consumed in moderation. While occasional treats like cookies or ice cream are not off the table, emphasising a balanced approach is key.

  2. Proper sleep

    Sleep deprivation can reduce the innate ability of the immune system to shield against harmful microbes. The required amount of sleep for children varies based on their age, ranging from 12 to 16 hours a day for infants to 8 to 10 hours for teenagers. It may differ from child to child as some need more sleep than others.

  3. Exercise

    Regular exercise is key to maintaining good health and reducing the likelihood of illness. Children should engage in at least one hour of physical activity each day. The term "active" does not exclusively refer to participating in organised sports or gym workouts; it can encompass activities like playing at the playground, swimming, or walking.

  4. Stress management

    We live in a time when children are subjected to immense competition and pressure. Chronic stress in children can suppress the immune system, making it less effective at fighting infections and diseases. Children should have dedicated downtime for play and access to activities and people that bring them joy.

    Spending quality time together as a family is crucial, providing opportunities for open communication where children feel comfortable discussing any concerns or worries. If there are any concerns about a child's emotional health, it is advisable to consult a doctor.

  5. Hygiene

    Poor sanitary conditions in one's surroundings increase the risk of infections, meaning the immune system needs to fight harder every day. Maintain an excellent hygienic environment in your home to minimise the chance of contracting infections.

  6. Vaccinations

    Vaccinations play a crucial role in safeguarding against a variety of illnesses. Regular check-ins with your doctor ensure that your child receives the recommended vaccines, providing essential protection against preventable diseases.

Make an Appointment at Gleneagles Hospitals

Remember, small changes can significantly improve your child's overall well-being. Get in touch with us to book an appointment with a paediatrician today, or find out more about the Paediatrics Services at your nearest Gleneagles Hospital.


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