From pre-school to play dates, soccer practice to ballet, your child comes into contact with tons of germs. Getting sick, be it the sniffles or a full-blown flu, is a part of life — especially among kids, whose immune systems are still developing. Though sick days are inevitable you can help to fend off germs by filling your children’s plates with an array of healthy, immune-boosting foods.
Plant-based foods (especially colorful fruits and vegetables), whole grains, nuts, seeds, and beans are full of nutrients to help your kids stay healthy. Though certain health foods may be more popular at one time or another, avoid relying on fads; feeding your children a variety of healthy foods means they’ll consume a variety of nutrients. Sure, superfoods like acai and gogi berries can seem alluring with their tantalizing health claims and exotic origins, but everyday ingredients can be just as healthful and they are far less expensive.
One of the best ways to keep your kids healthy is to keep it simple; limit overly-processed foods and rely instead on a nutrition philosophy that emphasizes fresh, whole foods. Simple upgrades like including a fruit or vegetable at every meal (or during snack time) can make a big difference in the overall quality of your child’s diet. And, creating a plant-centric plate is an easy way to decrease your grocery bill; fresh fruits and vegetables are far cheaper than meat, poultry, and seafood. As an added bonus, many of the nutrient-dense foods that can help bolster your child’s immune system are already on the kid-friendly list; that makes incorporating healthy, immune-boosting foods into your kids diet even easier.
Sweet, refreshing, and kid-friendly, this summer staple is rich in Vitamin A and C, which have proven immune-boosting properties. For variety, blend fresh watermelon with water and lime juice to make a refreshing summer drink.
Pumpkin seeds are a good source of zinc, which strengthens the immune system. Try roasting them with salt and cinnamon for a low-sugar, high-fiber snack.
Katie Cavuto is a Registered Dietitian, Chef, and Mom. For more on healthy eating, visit her website.