Bolstering Children’ Immunity | alive
Navigating uncertain times is no mean feat, especially for parents who are concerned about how to keep their children happy and safe. Measures such as school closings, frequent hand washing, and physical distancing that were in place (and in some cases may still exist) to guard against COVID-19 have also worried parents and children alike.
While there isn’t enough data to recommend natural treatments for this particular strain of the virus, be aware that there are ways you can naturally support your child’s immune system to make them stronger and more resistant to infections that may may occur, including the seasonal cold and flu viruses they cause.
Built-in security system
Imagine going through airport security for a family outing. The X-ray machine will scan the contents of your child’s suitcase to see if they are safe on the plane. Your child’s immune system performs a similar function to determine whether substances from the external environment can safely remain in their body. Dangerous substances like germs trigger an immune response in which the body tries to remove them from the body.
When germs settle
Germs refer to microorganisms that commonly cause disease, including viruses, bacteria, parasites, and fungi. While the immune system does its best to avoid infection, germs often feel good and stay welcome longer.
Viruses are especially bad housekeepers because they need a gracious host (like humans) to live, and they hijack our cellular proteins at every stage of their life cycle. Common viruses include influenza, rhinovirus (the main cause of colds), and human coronaviruses, which can also cause colds and lower respiratory infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia.
Please do not touch
The best defense against infection is to avoid exposure to germs. We continue to focus on preventing the virus that is causing COVID-19 from spreading. This stress is transmitted from an infected person through coughing, sneezing, prolonged close personal contact, and touching surfaces.
While research into the behavior and spread of this coronavirus continues, current understanding is that one can contract the virus by inhaling droplets of breath or touching infected surfaces and then touching the lining of the mouth, nose and eyes.
If you need to take your kids with you when you shop for essentials, hold their hand or bring a toy so they don’t touch them. Help your child not to touch the face by turning it into a game. For example, if they touch their face, have them scratch their knees instead.
Although the stability rates of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 are currently being investigated, other human coronaviruses remain infectious on surfaces for up to six days at room temperature, suggesting that regular disinfection of surfaces at home can help prevent spread to prevent. After touching an object with infectious rhinovirus, it can remain on the fingertips and be infectious for up to 24 hours.
At home, doorknobs, the refrigerator handle, TV remote control, and bathroom fittings are the most contaminated surfaces. Pay special attention to items your child uses frequently, including toys and touch screens, and make sure they are cleaned frequently and thoroughly.
Poke holes in picky food
A deficiency in immunomodulatory micronutrients (including B vitamins, vitamins C, D and E, iron, zinc and selenium) affects a host’s susceptibility to infectious diseases and changes the course and outcome of infection.
In developed countries like Canada, the number one cause of nutritional deficiencies in children is more fussy about food, as many are fussy about eating lots of nutritious foods like green leafy vegetables. Low vitamin D levels due to inadequate food intake or sun exposure can increase the risk of infections, especially of the respiratory tract.
Restoring the recommended micronutrient levels to the recommended levels increases infection resistance and supports faster recovery. Consuming food sources of these nutrients may not be enough, especially for picky eaters. In this case, a multivitamin with minerals can help.
Physical activity has myriad health benefits for children and teenagers, including improving cardiovascular health, promoting positive self-esteem, and reducing depression and anxiety.
Exercise can also be key to maintaining healthy immune function. Exercise at moderate intensity has been found to boost the immune system. Researchers believe this is due to improved immune surveillance, decreased inflammation, and improved mental stress.
The Canadian Pediatric Society recommends that children collect at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-high-intensity physical activity six or more days per week.
Keep the mood high
If your child keeps asking about COVID-19, they may ask for security to ease their anxiety. Do your best to explain the situation without creating unnecessary fear of germs, distrust of others, and worries about the future.
Chronic stress can impair immune function. Therefore, managing the stress through playing, creating, exercising, meditating, and talking to your child is one of the best ways to promote wellbeing during this time.
Kids and cooties
- Children under one year of age have an average of six colds a year.
- Children between the ages of 10 and 14 have a cold on average three times a year.
- Seasonal flu is more common in children under the age of five.
Pay attention to the gaps with the supplement
- Vitamin D Supplements in school-age children can help reduce the incidence of influenza A.
- vitamin C Supplementation can help reduce the severity and duration of the common cold in children by up to 14 percent.
- zinc Supplementation can help reduce the risk of pneumonia and the common cold, especially in children. Lozenges, taken within 24 hours of the first symptoms, can shorten the duration and severity of the common cold in children.
This article was originally published in the September 2020 issue of the Living Canadian Magazine, titled “Boosting Children’s Immunity.”