Ways To Boost Your Child’s Immune System
Finding something that can boost a child’s immune system can be extremely helpful both for the child and for his or her parents.
As a parent, I used to live in constant fear. Every season has its own problems. I knew it was spring because my kids had runny noses and caught the flu frequently. Summer came with sore throats. Autumn brought another period of runny noses and winter caused constant colds. Gastrointestinal bugs occurred all year round, and they were the worst. There’s nothing like cleaning up after two children at 6 AM.
I used to think that my kids caught all these germs at daycare or at school, but I was surprised to find out that not all children got sick as frequently as mine. Not all of them had runny noses, and some of them never contracted a GI bug.
And that got me thinking. Why did my children get sick so often? What did other parents do differently from me?
After visiting an expert in pediatric natural medicine, I learned that each child has a different immune system and that I could increase my children’s level of wellness if I boosted their natural defenses.
Now, two years after my visit, everything’s changed. I don’t live in fear any longer. I haven’t heard a loud sniffle in more than a year, and my kids haven’t caught a GI bug since.
Here’s how I managed to boost my children’s immune system:
Using probiotics was probably the best advice I received from my pediatrician. After doing my research, I learned that using probiotics can benefit children in many ways.
What Are Probiotics?
Probiotics are live yeasts and bacteria that are good for our digestive system. Most of us think that germs are bad because they cause diseases. But that’s incorrect. Now, I’m not saying that’s not true, I’m saying that’s not the whole story.
Our body is full of bacteria. The bacteria on our skin help our bodies identify and isolate harmful agents, and the bacteria in our guts help us digest fiber. While it’s true that most germs are bad, some of them are quite helpful.
Probiotics are sources of helpful bacteria. They can replace the good bacteria in our bodies, and they help balance the good and bad bacteria.
You may also check: CHEWABLE Probiotic for Kids
How Probiotics Benefit Children?
They Help With Bowel Diseases
Probiotics help treat the inflammatory diseases of the digestive tract. You might be thinking that a healthy child doesn’t have any inflammatory bowel diseases, but you would be wrong.
Children are always curious and exploring, and if you’re a parent you know that one of the first things babies and toddlers do when they find something new is to put it in their mouths. We try our best to make sure they don’t eat or chew anything that’s unclean, but the kids still manage to do it once in a while. And this action usually results in diarrhea.
When children put something dirty in their mouths, they eat a lot of bacteria. The bacteria triggers an inflammation of the bowels called gastroenteritis, which leads to diarrhea. By reducing the inflammation, the probiotics will reduce the duration of the gastroenteritis. (1)
Probiotics Help Prevent Colic
As parents, we can’t help but feel useless when our children are hurting. Excessive crying is common in infants, and when it happens within the child’s first 3 months of life it’s likely something that is called colic (2). The problem with colic is that it can affect up to 30% of babies, and it’s a poorly understood phenomenon. The treatment options for colic are limited, and the condition is difficult to manage.
Probiotics seem to be effective in treating and preventing infant colic (3). A meta-analysis of multiple studies found that administering probiotics containing L. reuteri to breastfed infants who suffered from colic significantly reduced their crying time.
They Help Fight The Common Cold
Probiotics can be beneficial for our health because they can improve and regulate our immune system. An impressive meta-study that involved over 3720 participants found that probiotics can significantly reduce the incidence of upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs) (4).
Taking probiotics when you suffer from URTIs might even reduce the infections’ duration. And it gets better. Not only did the probiotics improve the body’s ability to fight the infections, but they also reduced the antibiotic prescription rates for these infections. Since those who suffered from URTIs were feeling better, fewer children missed school because they had colds.
Even though probiotics help children of all ages overcome the common cold, they seem to be most effective for kindergartners.
Help Prevent Antibiotic-Associated Diarrhea
Unfortunately, up to 39% of babies suffer from diarrhea as an adverse effect of antibiotic treatment (5). This happens because antibiotics kill all the bacteria they can find. Now, there are billions of bacteria living in our guts. Some of them are not beneficial, and they can cause infections, so getting rid of them is good. However, others help us digest food and help infants digest breast milk. When the antibiotics kill the good bacteria in the babies’ guts, they limit the infants’ capacity to digest the breast milk, and that can result in diarrhea.
Using probiotics during an antibiotic treatment can prevent the occurrence of antibiotic-associated diarrhea by up to 51%. Unfortunately, research indicates that taking probiotics will only prevent the onset of diarrhea and that it’s not an effective treatment method once diarrhea begins (6).
The pediatrician told me that children’s immune systems are constantly bombarded by the additives, preservatives, and especially by the sugar in their diet. These substances produce a mild irritation in the child’s digestive system. Because the digestive system is irritated, the immune system will allocate some cells to treat the inflammation. This leaves their small bodies with fewer resources to fight the viruses and bacteria it encounters on a daily basis.
But if additives and preservatives are bad for children, sugar is devastating. Sugar can actually suppress our immune system, which makes our kids more susceptible to contracting diseases (7).
My pediatrician advised me to use only fresh veggies, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole fruits, eggs, and meat when cooking for my children. I’m not going to lie, limiting your kids’ sugar intake can be difficult. One day they’re eating chocolate, the other they’re not. Luckily for me, there are tons of healthy and tasty recipes I can prepare using the ingredients recommended by the pediatrician. I guess I’m also fortunate to have two kids that appreciate fruits as much as they do chocolate.
Honestly, there have been times that I have been so stressed that I haven’t even noticed that my kids might be stressed as well. Adults and children have different responsibilities, but that doesn’t mean that the little ones are not exposed to their fair share of stress.
Everything is fast-paced nowadays. As parents, we can be stressed because we lose a lot of time on our daily commute, but what we often forget is that we share part of our commute with our children. When we’re raging because someone cut us off, we’re transferring some of that stress to our children.
In addition, our children’s schedules are so full these days. Many of them have school or daycare in the morning. After school, they have karate practice or ballet lessons, then a play date, and maybe some other activities after that. Their schedules are more often than not busier than our own. This can be stressful for the little ones. Children need to be involved in a lot of activities to develop into responsible adults, but my pediatrician advised me to respect their downtime. Now, instead of karate practice, we take some time to play. Instead of play dates, we take a stroll in the park. You need to give your child a break every now and then if you want to boost his or her immune system (8).
Make Sure They Sleep Enough
Children need sleep. Lots of it. Kids need between 10 to 14 hours of sleep per day, depending on their age. Nowadays, children are bombarded with information all the time. They want to watch movies, play on computers or tablets, and they even have their own Youtube channels. They want to use all sorts of devices, and some parents indulge them.
But that could be a mistake. According to recent studies, the quality of sleep might be more important than its duration (9). Kids need to sleep in the dark, ideally in a room that doesn’t have electromagnetic frequencies. Simply put, our children need to sleep in unplugged rooms. We shouldn’t even leave a night light on.
There are other dietary supplements you should try, besides probiotics. My pediatrician recommended zinc along with vitamins C and D for my children.
After doing some research, I learned that zinc is considered a trace mineral. Our bodies need trace minerals to work properly, but they cannot produce their own. This means we have to consume trace minerals through food or supplements to lead a healthy life.
Zinc is a powerful immune booster. Taking a zinc supplement can reduce the duration of a cold by up to 50% (10). Research shows that children who take zinc supplements are less likely to develop upper respiratory infections (11).
I have heard that taking vitamin C can help treat colds, but I had no idea why. My pediatrician told me that vitamin C can help reduce the immune system deficiencies children might have. I discovered that Vitamin C can stimulate the production and distribution of white blood cells. These are the cells that are actively fighting the pathogens that produce the common cold in children (12).
Vitamin D plays an important role in boosting children’s immune system. Our bodies can produce their own reserve of vitamin D. Unfortunately, our bodies only produce vitamin D when we expose our skin to sunlight. But what happens if you live in a cold area or during the winter?
Well, you might suffer from a vitamin D deficiency. Those who suffer from a vitamin D deficiency have a weak immune response (13).
Fortunately, vitamin D supplements are very effective and relatively cheap. Giving your children a vitamin D supplement will regulate and strengthen their immune response. (14)
According to my pediatrician, children should be encouraged to play outside. In doing my research I found that playing outside has its benefits.
Most of us don’t realize that when children play outside they get in contact with multiple strains of bacteria. Some of these bacteria can actually be helpful for their little bodies just as is the case with probiotics. While some other strains of outside bacteria the children might come in contact with might be harmful, over time the immune system learns to identify and destroy them with ease. Not only will this make the immune system more efficient, but it will also strengthen the children’s immune response.
What's Your Opinion?
This is how I managed to boost my children’s immune systems. As you can see, the methods I used are inexpensive. Despite their low costs, these small changes made a huge difference. My children are healthier and happy. They don’t get colds any longer, and they’re more energetic.
Also Read : Can You Treat Ear Infections with Probiotics?
Have you tried boosting your children’s immune system? What worked for you?