If you’re a parent, you’re doing everything you can for your kids. You help them with their homework. You practice tennis serves and soccer passes. You get them into bed at a reasonable hour. But what are you doing to take care of their immune systems? Our immune systems help us fight off pathogens, battle illnesses, and keep our bodies healthy and balanced. That makes them especially important in bodies that are still growing and developing.
A strong immune system starts with a healthy gut. This is as true for kids as it adults. Building your child’s immune system means making sure they eat foods with the right vitamins and minerals and plenty of Omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and probiotics. Starting your child on a gut-healthy diet now won’t just ensure they grow up big and strong; it’ll teach them healthy eating habits that can keep them well throughout their lives.
Kids aren’t always the most cooperative of eaters. They’re still developing their palettes, and go through phases where some foods are acceptable and some off-limits. Luckily, a healthy immune system is built on consuming a variety of different kinds of foods. At any given time, your children are bound to like a few of them. Here are a few that are usually easy to get kids excited about:
- Yogurt – You probably know that yogurt contains probiotics—good bacteria essential to gut health. It also contains Vitamin D, potassium, and calcium, all-important immunity-boosters. It’s also versatile: If your kid won’t eat yogurt with a spoon, you can add some to a smoothie or serve it as a fruit dip. Concerned about the sugar content in many popular brands? Serve plain, sugarless yogurt topped with natural sweeteners like berries, honey, or maple syrup.
- Nuts – Tree nuts like walnuts and almonds are full of zinc Omega 3s. They also contain magnesium, which helps our bodies better absorb Vitamins A, D, E, and K. Nuts are especially easy to add to other foods. Chop them up and include them in snack mixes for a healthy crunch.
- Citrus fruits – Oranges, grapefruit, and other citrus fruits contain lots of Vitamin C, which helps stave off infections by encouraging the production of more white blood cells. They also contain soluble fiber, which helps keep the gut healthy by improving digestion, and they’re an excellent source of fluids for kids who don’t drink enough water. Keep in mind that whole fruits have better immunity-boosting properties than juices.
- Berries – Berries are among the easiest foods to get kids to eat. Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, raspberries—all help fight free radicals in the body. They’re sweet and colorful, making them attractive to birds, bears, and children alike. Like nuts, they’re easy to add to snack mixes and salads.
- Vegetables – Vegetables, on the other hand, can sometimes be a hard sell with kids. Green leafy varieties like spinach—a great source of Vitamin E and magnesium—can be especially hard to convince children to eat. Mix the greens with foods your kids can’t get enough of, such as Mac & Cheese or lasagne. And don’t forget about the more palatable vegetables as well: broccoli, bell peppers, and sweet potatoes all have vitamins and minerals important to gut health and immunity.
Everything in Moderation
While you want to encourage your children to make healthy choices, you should also recognize that their tastes will change over time. Forcing them to eat particular foods can backfire. The better approach is to offer them a wide variety of options so they can choose what appeals to them now and still get the benefits to their immune system. If your kid rejects the cherry tomato, offer them a strawberry instead.
In fact, mega-dosing on healthy foods can adversely affect immunity and overall health. For instance, too much Vitamin A can cause liver damage. Too much Vitamin D can cause an excess of calcium in the blood. Not only is force-feeding your kids spinach likely to increase their resistance, but it could give them more nutrients than their bodies can process.
Remember that sleep and exercise are also vital to building a strong immune system.
The Immunity-Boosting Power of Probiotics
You can do one more thing to improve your children’s overall immunity: offer them probiotics to help build gut health. Probiotics, or “good bacteria,” help fight off bad bacteria, keeping your body balanced and healthy. Beyond improving immunity, they also assist in digestion and can reduce inflammation.
With a special blend of five different probiotics, Jetson’s Immunity formula is specially designed to promote a strong immune system:
- Bacillus subtilis DE111
- Lactobacillus acidophilus La-14
- Bifidobacterium lactis HN019
- Lactobacillus rhamnosus CG
- Bifidobacterium lactis BI-04
Vitamin C and echinacea round out the mix, helping the body fight infection by stimulating the production of white blood cells.
The Bottom Line
Healthy kids have healthy immune systems. Healthy immune systems are built on foods rich in vitamins, minerals, Omega-3s, antioxidants, adequate sleep, lots of exercise, and probiotics like Jetson’s Immunity.