WINTER AND YOUR CHILD’S IMMUNITY: HOW TO “GUARD” AGAINST THOSE PESKY WINTER GERMS Colds and flu are a fact of life for kids. We are all born with an inexperienced immune system and by battling various germs and viruses as we grow, we develop better immunity. This is why many paediatricians consider six to eight colds per year quite normal1. We all know how easily germs can spread between family members2. What’s more is that the school environment seems to be one of the main ways that germs circulate within communities2. This is not only because school going children are in close contact with each other, but also because a child’s immune system is less mature than that of an adult, so they are naturally more susceptible to germs2. It also doesn’t help that younger children may have habits that further spread germs such as sticking fingers and objects into their mouths2. Winter is fast approaching, and this is when germs are generally more common. This is in part because we spend more time indoors and in close proximity to each other, as well as the fact that the viruses that cause the common cold spread more easily in cold, dry air3. Our nasal passages are also drier, allowing cold viruses to generally make us sicker than they do during warmer months3. Having a sick child is no fun for any parent or child, so here are some healthy habits you can adopt to boost your child’s immunity this winter (and all year round)1. The flu vaccine offers great defence against getting flu and spreading it to others. Having the vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctor’s visits, missed school days, and prevent flu-related hospitalizations and even deaths in children4. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older get a seasonal flu vaccine each year4. Including certain health foods in your child’s diet can help strengthen their immune system and help prevent colds and flu5. Oily fish such as salmon and fresh tuna, for example, contain omega-3 fatty acids which have many health benefits. White fish (such as hake) also contain some omega-3 although in smaller doses. Try to include fish in your child’s diet twice a week5. Eating different fruits and vegetables, ideally five a day, especially red, yellow and orange varieties which contain more vitamin C and carotenoids , can help the body create more white blood cells which are responsible for fighting infection5. Sleep is also very important. Lack of sleep can make children more susceptible to illness by reducing the natural killer cells that help the immune system fight infection5. Ideally toddlers should have up to 13 hours of sleep per day and three to twelve year olds up to 12 hours per day5. Research also shows that exercise can increase the number of these natural killer cells in both adults and children1. Reducing stress levels in children is also important as high levels of stress in a family can undermine a child’s immune system, making it easier for viruses and bacteria to take effect6. Other good habits to teach our children to help protect them from germs and illness at school include washing hands regularly and teaching our children about germ etiquette such as covering coughs and sneezes to prevent spreading infection2. Although our kids should ideally get all their immune boosting vitamins and minerals from food7, we all know that in reality this is difficult – especially with fussy eaters. Créche Guard, South Africa’s number one children’s multivitamin and mineral8, has a range of products that can increase immunity and help to keep colds and flu at bay9, 10. These include Créche Guard GUMMIES and Créche Guard IMMUNE Multivitamin Syrup. Crèche Guard Immune Multivitamin Syrup is a cherry flavoured syrup formulated with a combination of vitamins and minerals that may assist your child’s body in maintaining a healthy immune system11. The strawberry flavoured Créche Guard GUMMIES contain vital vitamins, folic acid, biotin and zinc, essential for growing bodies and developing minds. Visit http://www.crecheguard.co.za/ for more information about the full range of Créche Guard products. Remember that although more common in winter, children can get a cold any time of year3, so keep up the immune boosting good habits all year round. Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.