In winter, we all seem to spend far too long taking our little ones to the doctors… runny noses, sore heads, scratchy throats and fevers are passed from one family member to another and make for a miserable few months. If this sounds all too familiar, it’s time to start boosting your whole family’s immune system the natural way with plenty of vitamin-rich foods! Today on the blog, certified Paediatric Nutritionist Mandy Sacher, our Kids Health Expert, shares the best ways to boost children’s immune systems for the winter months!
The following are Wholesome Child’s favourite immune boosting pantry and fridge essentials:
Berries – Acai, Goji, and Cherries
Berries are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and amino acids. They are especially great for children as they help oxygenate the blood and promote a healthy immune system. If your child is starting to get the sniffles, add berries to their porridge, cereal, yoghurt, and offer them as snacks throughout the day. Berries are exceptionally high in antioxidants and perfect for adding to smoothies or porridge in the cooler winter months. Remember, for babies and toddlers, always introduce new foods slowly and watch for reactions.
Wild Salmon, Sardines, Mackerel
Oily fish contain omega-3 oils, the number one anti-inflammatory for the whole body. They also contain selenium and vitamin E – important immune system strengtheners. Not only do they help the body fight disease, but they are essential for healthy brain development. For an extra boost, you can include cod liver oil in your kids’ diet, especially during the winter months when they are prone to getting sick more often.
Broccoli is a super vegetable, containing an abundant supply of antioxidants, vitamin C, calcium, iron, beta-carotene and folate. Broccoli is also high in fibre so it can help prevent constipation in adults and children alike. Try adding it to at least one meal every day – if your little ones struggle with broccoli, try pureeing it and adding (in small amounts at first) to veggie sauces for pasta, chicken or fish. Remember that with all new foods, injecting a little fun into meal times will make for a more enjoyable experience for you and your children – just offering “baby trees” can often be more fun that plain “broccoli”.
Eggs offer a great source of protein, and they’re one of the few foods that naturally contain vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium. Eggs also contain iron, vitamin A and a rich supply of B vitamins. There are numerous fun ways to incorporate eggs into your kids’ diets – using fun moulds to shape hard boiled eggs for lunchboxes or as scrambled eggs for breakfast.
Dark Green Leafy Vegetables
Vegetables like brussel sprouts, spinach and kale are packed with essential vitamins and minerals – including, vitamin A, vitamin C, fibre and calcium, which are needed to fight infections and help boost the body’s natural healing powers. These can often be the hardest “sell” for tiny taste buds if they haven’t been exposed to veggies of this kind from an early age, so start out slowly, adding small, pureed tastes to soups, stews, and stir-fries.
Homemade bone broth is excellent for speeding up healing and recuperation from illness. It’s nourishing and contains vital minerals in forms that young children can easily absorb such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon and more. Chicken bone broth is rich in a natural amino acid called cysteine, which can thin the mucus in your lungs making it less sticky so it can be expelled more easily. Processed, canned soups do not have the same nutritional benefits as slow-cooked, home made bone broth. However, if boiling bones is too much for you to handle, then the best store bought alternatives are those available at health food stores.
There are plenty of easy ways to add bone broth to you children’s diet:
Probiotic Rich Foods
Keffir yoghurt is packed with probiotics and now readily available at specialty and health foods stores. The taste is a bit tart so best to add it to your child’s normal yoghurt in small doses to start off with, or add it to smoothies. Other probiotic rich foods include kombucha, which most children enjoy but can also be added to smoothies. Another way to get probiotics into your children is through supplementation. But remember, always speak to a qualified expert to ensure your child is on the right strain for their age and immunity requirements.
Brightly Coloured Fruit and Veggies
All of the brightly-coloured fruit and vegetables such as oranges, kiwifruit, red and yellow capsicums, beetroot and all the berries are high in vitamin C and antioxidants which fight germs and promote well-being. Creating a visually appealing rainbow coloured veggie plate will entice your children to eat these powerful health-boosters. You can also try our tasty Home-Made Tomato Sauce for an additional boost of vitamin C and Lycopene – a powerful antioxidant found in tomatoes.
During the cold winter months be mindful of the need to increase children’s water intake – keep them hydrated to help fight against unwanted flu germs and get rid of harmful toxins. Other fluids that can be of benefit are cold pressed veggie juices, herbal teas such as ginger and lemon, chamomile, turmeric and cinnamon, peppermint and rooibos tea. We also love offering little ones a fresh coconut, they can enjoy the juice and gobble up the delicious fleshy bits as well – a great afternoon snack!
Mandy Sacher is a certified Paediatric Nutritionist and Founder of Wholesome Child. Her clinical practice focuses on prenatal and childhood nutrition, helping parents and mums-to-be-feed their children healthy, nourishing foods right from the start.
She has appeared recently on Channel Ten’s Everyday Health and is currently writing her first book, The Wholesome Child Nutrition Guide and Recipe Book, which will be available to purchase mid-April. www.wholesomechild.com.au. All views expressed are Mandy’s own.
Hi Jessica, I believe in synchronicity so when I was guided to you .on FB I was intrigued and inspired. I turned 46 last week and my husband bought me your book. I wanted to thank you for sharing your wisdom in such a beautifully presented way. My copy is now filled with tabs and post it notes with actual notes throughout. I am dairy intolerant since having my gallbladder removed 15+ years ago, I don't eat meat, very minimal gluten and was told 12 months ago my gut was not digesting my food properly so I wasn't receiving sufficient nutrients and taking supplements would be a waste of time. My weight fluctuates tending to gain rather than lose but now I believe I have a tool to help me bring my body back into balance that I need for my health and longevity of life - so again thank you. The first few steps to creating a stronger path forward for my health has found its foundation in your beautiful book, The Healthy Life.
With kindest regards Samantha
I'm writing this email because I wanted to tell you how much I love your blog and how you really helped me in my health journey. Thank you for sharing all your advices and experiences.
When I started my studies, I was drinking lots of coffee and I was eaten the wrong foods, and feel bad about it, I wasn't at my best. So I had done some research on the net but at first I didn't found advices that are for me, and then I found your blog. It was exactly what I was looking for, good advices and healthy recipes. Now I'm following your advices on rest more, and snacks between meals and prep the meals and take time for myself to reconnect with my body and let go my anxiety, etc, and I have a more balanced life and have a new relationship with food thanks to you.
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Hey Jessica! I haven’t yet brought ‘The Healthy Life’, but I do have the clean life and your slim down plan! I would like to thank you so much for the knowledge your share and the message you put across about health and wellness. I’m studying Nutritional Medicine in Melbourne and absolutely love the philosophy that you share with your JSHealth community. The work you’ve done to show people that leading a healthy lifestyle isn’t boring, tasteless, difficult or depriving is amazing and hope to share the message myself one day. You’ve inspired me to start my own blog , to share the message and have taught me so many things about my own health! You should be proud of your achievements! Thank you again
I searched for help and tips through the Internet and found Jessica Sepel. This is seriously not exaggerated, but she was the reason why I have dared myself to eat again, to have snacks in between, to nourish my body. I could slowly improve my negative thoughts about my body image and my stupid anxiety of gaining weight. Besides, The Cleanest Gut was awesome too! A huge thank you! Especially from my mum. Seriously, without you I wouldn’t be where I am now!
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Cooking in this way truly brought out the foodie in me and has instilled a huge passion for health and wellness! Life throws you hard and frustrating things sometimes but I truly believe that this is where we learn more about ourselves and what our passions in life are! Thank you for inspiring me on my journey to health and wellness!
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I want to empower you to make good choices, every day. I want you to enhance your understanding of health and nutrition. I'm committed to making sure you live the best life. Because you deserve it. Are you ready to start feeling great?
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