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COVID-19: Foods That Boost Immunity In Kids

| Reviewed By Sneha Krishnan

The immune system in our body is responsible for protecting us from diseases caused by bacteria, viruses and toxins. A well-functioning immune system help removes foreign bodies and malignant cells from the system and helps regulate the immune responses against external harmless triggers such as food, or the bodies' tissue [1].

Amidst the coronavirus pandemic, health experts have pointed out that, while it is crucial to mention hygiene standards like washing your hands frequently - it is equally important to improve your immunity [2].

Individuals who have pre-existing illnesses like diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and respiratory issues are at a higher risk of having COVID-19 complications because these conditions affect the immune system by making it weak and increasing the chances of contracting diseases such as COVID-19 [3][4].

In young people and children, who has no underlying illnesses, COVID-19 can cause complications, in the absence of a strong immune system [5]. In this article, we will look at some of the healthy foods that can help boost immunity in kids.

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Importance Of Immunity In Kids

A good diet for children should meet all the required nutritional need to stay healthy and fit. They should help build their immunity, as it helps to combat various health ailments [6]. A strong immune system provides a child with a powerful natural defence mechanism and avoids the risk of contracting illnesses.

Since children require a lot of energy to remain active during the day, they must be given foods that can boost their energy levels and thereby their immune system. Eating the right kind of foods and maintaining a healthy sleep time can help improve their immune system. There are a handful of foods that a child must consume to keep their immune system strong to fight back against various diseases [7].

Parents should feed their children with more fruits and vegetables that are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants as these are superfoods that you, as a parent, must not miss out on.

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1. Eggs

Eggs are a very healthy breakfast option for kids as they are rich in proteins and vitamins - which can help boost the immune system [8]. Defined as storehouses of vitamins and minerals that are necessary for a child's growth and development, eggs are also loaded with antioxidants that benefit a child to a great extent [9]. Boiled, scrambled and poached eggs are good breakfast options for your child.

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2. Garlic

Garlic has antiviral and antibacterial properties and also stimulates the production of white blood cells within the body [10]. A perfect herb for improving the immunity in your children, garlic plays an important role in preventing health issues as well [11].

Note: You need to ensure that you provide appropriate quantities of garlic, as large quantities of garlic may not sit well with a child's digestive system.

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3. Turmeric

Turmeric contains anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, anti-fungal and antibacterial properties that can benefit your child's immune system in several ways [12]. Turmeric's active component curcumin makes it a powerful antioxidant [13]. You can give turmeric milk to your kids before bedtime - add a pinch of turmeric to the milk and mix well.

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4. Spinach

Rich in vitamin C, and packed with numerous antioxidants and beta carotene, spinach is a good addition to your child's diet [14]. This green leaf is beneficial in improving the infection-fighting ability of the immune system [15].

Immunity Boosting Tips For Indians

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5. Fenugreek Leaves

Considered as the richest sources of folic acid and zinc, consuming fenugreek leaves can do wonders for your child's immunity [16]. They are also a rich source of antioxidants, which help the body fight several infections.

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6. Yoghurt And Curd

Eating yoghurt can help strengthen the intestinal tract in children to prevent gastrointestinal illnesses [17]. Yoghurt is full of probiotics (good bacteria) that help destroy the bad bacteria in the stomach and is a great immune booster for kids. Curd also help improve the immune system in children in the same way [18].

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7. Cruciferous Vegetables

Vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli and Brussels sprouts are not only rich in antioxidant vitamins that give an immune system boost, but also help provide as essential nutrient called choline [19][20].

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8. Nuts

Nuts are the storehouses of essential nutrients that strengthen the body by keeping various health ailments at bay. Consuming a handful of nuts and dry fruits on a daily basis can strengthen your child's immune system and also improve their cognitive skills [21]. Some of the best nuts you can give your children are almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, pistachios and walnuts.

Doctor's Note: Avoid giving whole nuts to children under age 5 (choking hazard). They can however be crushed or powdered and given. Also it is important to watch out for food related reactions in children since food allergies manifest from a young age.

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9. Salmon

Salmon is yet another food that boosts the immune system in children. It is rich in omega-3 fatty acids that help in brain development [22]. Salmon also enhances the vision power in children, thereby helping to attain an improved vision [23].

Doctor's Note: Though not commonly practised in India, it could be beneficial to advise against consuming raw salmon ( like sushi) as they might trigger toxic reactions in children.

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10. Oysters

Oysters have a high nutritional value and contain zinc that helps boost immunity. They also help build proteins, cell functioning and aid in DNA repair too [24]. They are the best types of seafood to be given to your growing child.

Some of the other foods that can help improve the immunity in your child are blueberry, strawberry, lentils and chicken soup.

Doctor's Note: Same goes for Oysters.. making sure they are being consumed from a hygienic source is paramount.

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On A Final Note…

Apart from incorporating the aforementioned foods in your child's diet, it is also important to get the required amount of physical activity and a healthy sleeping pattern.

Dr Sneha adds, "Make sure the diet is balanced- basic foundation remains portions of carbs, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals."

Sneha KrishnanGeneral Medicine
MBBS
Sneha Krishnan