A healthy balanced diet may help the immune system to function at its best when the need arises. Rather than loading on Vitamin C when your kids catch a cold, it is best for them to eat healthy throughout to get the body prepared in advance. The following ideas are packed with nutrient-rich foods to boost their immune system:
This is a breakfast or snack which can offer so much to boost the immune system. Oats are extremely nutrient-dense and maintain a healthy gut. Use it as a base and add other ingredients: yoghurt (protein, calcium, vitamins and probiotics), berries (powerful antioxidants – prevent respiratory infections and improve digestion), almonds and sunflower seeds (vitamin E, fibre, protein, healthy fats and anti-inflammatory properties), dark chocolate chips (contains theobromine a powerful antioxidant). Use half cup oats and one cup milk/water and cook for 2 minutes in the microwave or leave overnight in a jar.
Salmon and sweet potato
Combine them together into a fish cake or serve the potato as mash on the side. Wild salmon is highly nutritious and a great source of omega-3 which has loads of health benefits. It also contains healthy fats, protein, B vitamins, potassium and selenium. Sweet potato is full of beta carotene, another antioxidant. You may add ginger for an extra boost. Try this easy recipe or this gluten free version
Fruit and Dip Platter
Vitamin C is more important for prevention, rather than when already sick. Make a simple dip and let the kids dip nutrient-rich fruit and vegetables in them: orange, clementine and kiwi slices, red bell peppers (these are packed with Vitamin C), pomegranate (has antibacterial properties), carrots, cucumber etc. Ideas for dips include: avocado + Greek yoghurt, peanut butter + kefir + honey, or garlic hummus (chickpeas are high in zinc).
This is useful both as prevention and also during colds to ease symptoms and help get better sooner. It provides immune-boosting amino acids, minerals and water. Poultry, such as chicken and turkey, is also high in vitamin B6, Zinc and Iron. I dont cook this often, but you can try this easy recipe from BBC Food
Dark leafy greens are full of vitamins and minerals (including zinc), fibre and carotenoids. Combine this with eggs which provide high quality protein and unique antioxidants, and you have a healthy meal that is quick to make and that kids will love. Wilt some baby spinach, add beaten eggs , garlic and some parmesan and cook for 1-2 minutes. You may add mushrooms for an extra nutrient boost. Here it is seen served with a chickpea salad, also high in zinc and antioxidants: chickpeas, red pepper, shallot, ginger, cumin and curry
Don’t forget: besides diet, there are other important ways to prevent getting sick: washing hands regularly with soap and water, exercising regularly, getting adequate sleep, and taking vaccines.
This article appeared in the Times of Malta Child Magazine November 2019