It’s the cough and cold season once more and during these darker days of winter, you can help to support your child’s immune system by taking care of their gut health. The gut microbiome manages metabolism, mood, cognition, hunger, digestion and immunity – so it has an important role to play in helping your child to flourish.
Author and nutritional therapist Eve Kalinik suggests five ways to support gut health.
A colourful, prebiotic-sourced diet
Essential to your child’s wellbeing are protein, fibre, fat, vitamins A, C, D and key minerals such as iron and zinc. Aim to eat a rainbow of protein, vegetables and fruits daily. Prebiotics such as onions, garlic and oat can also support the immune health.
Most healthy kids don’t need multivitamins if they are growing at the right rate and eat a variety of food. But if you are worried about your child’s picky eating habits, talk to your pharmacist about which vitamin might help. The Department of Health and Social Care only recommends supplements containing vitamins A, C and D – having too much of some vitamins can be harmful.
This is a key part of maintaining immune health, encouraging better sleep quality and helping to manage stress. Even a brisk 10 minute walk each day can have important health benefits. Why not ditch the car and do the school run on foot? Don’t forget to keep your child hydrated.
Getting kids to de-stress can be easier said than done! But it’s really important because high cortisol released in chronic stress directly affects how the immune system works. When the body is in constant fight or flight mode, it prioritises survival rather than rest and repair. This impairs the immune system, making fighting infection much harder. Try to deal with stress situations before they have the chance to intensify. Build plenty of down-time into the day, along with opportunities to sit quietly with children and talk about issues which may be affecting them.
A good night’s sleep
Sleep is essential to help the body rest and repair.
Try to make sure children get plenty of natural light exposure during the day to help set their body clock. Encourage them to wind down at least half an hour before bed with no blue light from screens, and avoid heavy meals close to bedtime.