Foods to Boost Your Child’s Immunity During Flu Season

 cauliflower pizza

Depending on where you are located cold season may be upon you, and a boost in your child’s immune system may help reduce sicknesses or at least the duration time.

Either way, a boost in your child’s immunity is beneficial all year round. Consider adding these 5 foods to boost your child’s immunity during flu season.

1. Lentils

Lentils are jam packed with Zinc which is a mineral required for creating T-cells, a kind of white blood cell that helps fight infection.

During the winter season, I love making a veggie packed, warm and comforting lentil soup. I sauté 1 medium onion, 10 carrots and parsnips in avocado oil for 5 minutes. Season with black pepper, turmeric, and mild curry powder. I then add 6 diced tomatoes, ½ bunch of kale, and 1 cup of lentils. Bring to boil and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour.

All year round, my son loves to eat my sweet potato, lentil frittata. It is a great on the go lunch snack since it easily cuts into square sized pieces. To make this recipe at home just preheat the oven to 350F and spray a medium sized cast iron skillet with avocado spray. Boil 1 cup of lentils per the instruction on the bag and then mix it with 2 medium shredded sweet potatoes. Add about 10 eggs (depending on the size of your skillet) and mix it with cinnamon, ¼ cup oats and 2 tablespoons flax seed. Bake for 30 minutes, until the eggs are baked through.

2. Cauliflower

While many people run to the drug store and get Emergen-C whenever they feel a cold coming along, there are many powerful foods that are loaded with high amounts of Vitamin C to help instead – cauliflower included! Research studies have shown that Vitamin C reduces the duration of cold and symptoms.

An easy crowd pleaser is a Cauliflower mash. I steam a head of cauliflower. Then I add it to a food processor with garlic and parsley and blend until smooth. Easy, simple and sure to be a hit!

Another big hit in my house is my vegan cauliflower pizza.

3. Sunflower Seeds

Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant and a positive immune system stimulator. Research studies have shown that people who have adequate levels of Vitamin E had fewer colds, flu, and sicknesses.

I like to add a spoonful of sunflower seeds to my oatmeal in the morning. You can also add sunflower seed butter instead, especially if your little ones cannot chew 100% just yet.

4. Kefir

Probiotics protect the digestive tract, decreasing the chance of bacteria in the intestines to enter the blood stream. This helps lower infection rate and supports the health of the immune system. A research study also showed that probiotics, specifically Lactobacillus, reduces the common cold by two days and decreases the severity of the symptoms.

Use kefir as the base of the smoothie. Some kids enjoy the tart taste, others need to quiet it down with some berries and cinnamon for sweetness. Kefir is thick and may need to be mixed with water to achieve the appropriate consistency, depending on your child’s age.

5. Water

While scientists aren’t 100% convinced, I am. Dehydration has been known to decrease the concentration of salivary immunoglobulin (SIgA). SIgA plays a big role in the immunity of the oral cavity, lungs and gut by helping to protect pathogens (infections) from invading one’s body. If your little one is starting to feel congested, warm liquids such a soup or a warm lemon water may help soothe them and help increase mucous flow.

If increasing water intake seems impossible, choose water-filled fruits and vegetables such as cucumber, watermelon, and strawberries.

Michelle Routhenstein, MS RD CDE CDN is the Owner and President of Entirely Nourished, a nutrition counseling private practice based in New York City. As a Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist, Certified Diabetes Educator and Certified Dietitian Nutritionist, Michelle’s passion is in empowering others to take control of their health to prevent both the occurrence as well as complications of chronic diseases, utilizing evidence-based medicine. She specializes in personalized lifestyle medicine for lifelong results.  Michelle additionally provides virtual consultations to non-local customers.

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