I can’t believe it’s the beginning of September, where did the summer holidays go? Hope you managed to top up those vitamin D levels with a little sunshine, because the nights are already starting to close in as autumn approaches. Those of us with children will be preparing for a new school year, and trying to make the most of the last few days of the holidays before they go back.
It’s also a good time to think about our children’s health and what we can to help boost their energy levels and immune systems. Unfortunately, for many they go back to school after the summer and before long they get a bit snotty, start with a cough and a cold, end up tired and tearful – and this is all before half term! Always happens this time of year… Everyone get ill… It’s the change of weather…. Well let me tell you - no it’s not!
When a child gets a cough or a cold, their immune system should spring into action and deal with it. When a bacteria or virus enters their system, their immune system should automatically recognize it as being dangerous and produce antibodies to kill it. However, if their immune system isn’t working as well as it should be, this is when the bugs aren’t killed and illness can occur.
Every child is different; some have health conditions that require very specific care, but for those in general good health here is my basic ‘plan of attack’ to get immune system working properly and ready for autumn and winter.
1. Important nutrients - Try to include the following in the diet, consisting of 2-3 portions fruit, 3-4 portions of vegetables per day and 3-4 portions of omega 3 fats per week:
B vitamins – (Energy)
Wholegrains, vegetables, bananas (B6), oily fish and eggs.
Vitamin C – (Immunity)
Strawberries, red and green peppers, broccoli and oranges.
Vitamin D – (Immunity, Growth & Development, Mood)
Sunlight, oily fish, eggs and butter.
*Public Health England recommends supplementing children with vitamin D during autumn and winter.
Vitamin E – (Energy, Immunity & Cognitive Function)
Almonds, spinach, sweet potato, avocado, sunflower seeds and olive oil.
Zinc – (Immunity & Cognitive function)
Lamb, chicken, pumpkin seeds, grass-fed beef, chickpeas, eggs, spinach and cashews.
Magnesium – (Energy)
Dark green leafy vegetables, wholegrains, almonds, bananas, pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate, eggs, salmon and avocado.
Iron - (Energy, Immunity, Cognitive Function, Growth & Development)
Dark green leafy vegetables, almonds, grass-fed beef, dark chocolate, spinach, sardines, pistachios and raisins.
Essential Fatty Acids – (Energy, Immunity, Cognitive Function, Mood)
Oily, avocado, coconut oil, nuts and seeds, white fish and egg yolks
2. Reduce sugar intake – no brainer!
3. Get at least 30 minutes of exposure to the sun every day.
4. Drink plain water.
5. Consider supplementing with a good multi vitamin & mineral, vitamin D (with K2) and omega 3.
6. Rest – Allow free time to just play/relax and make sure they get enough sleep.
If you need support with strengthening your child’s immune system or maybe you have a ‘picky eater’ and need some ideas for child-friendly meals, do get in touch. Free 30 minute consultations are available via my website – www.donnapetersnutrition.co.uk.