Immune-Boosting Tips Ahead of Cold & Flu Season (Plus a Fun Recipe)
Article By: Dominica Dieffenbach, RDN
Dominica is a Registered Dietitian currently specializing in the special needs pediatric population. She has over 15 years of experience as an RD, working with a wide variety of patients to provide them with individualized medical nutrition therapy and education.
Welcome to the start of cold and flu season! During this time, many parents often ask their providers... "What can be done to boost my child’s immune system?"
1) Prioritize diverse nutrition and a high-quality vitamin routine.
Prioritizing nutrition in kids has been shown to boost immunity year-round, especially when more germs are lingering during cold and flu season.
Eating a varied diet with enough nutrients (Vitamin A, Vitamin C, zinc, selenium, iron, and protein) is required for the health and function of all cells, including immune cells.
Be sure kids are eating the full spectrum of produce and incorporating lean meats, nuts, and beans for immune-boosting nutrients as well.
Got a picky eater? Try offering these foods in a smoothie as a healthy snack. And just to make sure all the bases are covered, giving kiddos a high-quality multivitamin and mineral supplement with additional Vitamin C can keep the germs at bay. Be sure to check out the Renzo's Picky Eater Multi and Invincible Vitamin C for a sugar-free, junk-free vitamin routine.
2) Support gut health by limiting processed foods + refined sugars.
A diet high in processed foods + refined sugars and low in fruits and vegetables can promote disturbances in the gut microbiome and suppress immunity as a result.
More than half of the cells that create antibodies for fighting sickness are in the intestines.
A great way to promote a healthy gut, and thus immune system, can be to include foods that are naturally rich in probiotics such as kefir, sauerkraut, yogurt, and pickles.
3) Practice healthy sleep hygiene.
Good sleep habits are essential for boosting the immune system. When we sleep, our bodies produce proteins called cytokines (along with T Cells) which target infection and inflammation, creating a positive immune response.
Creating good sleep hygiene for kids can include limiting screen time before bed, keeping sleep and waking times consistent, and limiting naps for older children.
4) Encourage activity and time spent outside.
Getting kids active is a no brainer for keeping them healthy! When movement happens, it increases the circulation of blood and lymph (which contains white blood cells) and causes the release of additional immune cells from lymph nodes and the spleen into the bloodstream.
Children naturally have a desire to be active, but with increased screen times nowadays, many children do not get the recommended 60 minutes a day of exercise.
Physical activity for kids can be as simple as playing on the playground, dancing around the house, or kicking around a soccer ball in the backyard.
Immune boosting kid-friendly smoothie recipe:
- 1 cup frozen mixed berries
- 1 cup unsweetened kefir
- ½ cup frozen spinach
- ½ banana
- 2 tbs of your favorite nut or nut butter
Directions: Combine all ingredients in your blender and blend until smooth. Add 3-4 ice cubes if desired. Try freezing the mixture into popsicle molds for a treat!
Renzo's Vitamins provides general recommendations, not to be construed as medical advice.