Winter can sometimes feel like a never-ending cycle of runny noses, fevers, and chesty coughs.
If you’re looking for ways to avoid sitting in the waiting room for a doctor’s appointment this winter, Tea4Kidz partner dietician Mbali Mapholi has a few tips on how to boost your child’s immune system.
Mapholi says child sickness in winter can be difficult because of the loss in school time and the costs associated with managing sickness in the home, as well as the challenge of caring for sick children, when parents and caregivers work full time.
“Getting nutrition right at this time of year can play a key role in reducing those sick days. Nutritious food and drinks contain a range of different vitamins and nutrients, that are key to supporting the body’s natural immunity.
“We should always start with what we are putting into our body from a food and beverage point of view, when we want to boost our body’s natural defences against colds and flu,” she says.
Mbali Mapholi’s three simple tips to boost children’s immunity.
Feed them the rainbow
Fruit and vegetables are packed with nutrients – vitamins, minerals, dietary fibre, and more.
Fruits, especially seasonal fruits, such as citrus, are packed with vitamin C, which plays a key role in boosting immunity.
Orange-fleshed vegetables, such as butternut, gem squash, pumpkin, and sweet potato are packed with vitamin A and carotenoids, which have been shown to benefit immunity.
Feeding children a variety of vegetables and fruits with different nutrients not only boosts their immunity, but also plays an important role in mental health and lifting their mood. Here’s an easy and delicious Rooibos butternut soup.
3 Tea4Kidz Original Rooibos teabags
500ml chicken or vegetable stock (Dissolve 1 stock cube in 500ml hot water)
1kg or 1 whole butternut, medium (peeled and deseeded)
1 tbs cooking oil
1 finely sliced, medium onion
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
125ml cream (optional)
Boil water and add to tea bags to brew for at least 5 minutes.
sauté onions with oil until cooked, then add butternut, Rooibos tea, stock, and seasoning.
Boil until soft and the liquid is reduced, then set aside and blend.
Add cream and serve with warm bread of choice.
Keep children hydrated
Drinking water in winter can be difficult because it’s cold, which means a risk of dehydration and a dip in mood, exacerbating the symptoms of common colds and flu.
Get enough sleep
During sleep, the immune system releases proteins called cytokines, some of which help promote sleep.
Certain cytokines need to increase when a person has an infection or inflammation, or is under stress. Sleep deprivation may decrease the production of these protective cytokines.
In addition, infection-fighting antibodies and cells are reduced during periods when children don’t get enough sleep.