Just when cold and flu season begins to wrap up, the winter and early spring can be prime time for gastroenteritis. It seems that no matter the time of the year, there are always microscopic invaders to battle. There are several ways to boost immunity and to protect kids (and parents!) from these wretched organisms that can wreak havoc on bodies.
The race to arm kids can start as early as infancy with breastfeeding. The white blood cells and antibodies found in mom’s breast milk are the most natural way to start babies on their way to building a strong immune system. IgA antibodies and lactoferrin are just a couple of these protective breast milk ingredients.
As babies begin to work on ingesting solid foods (between four to six months of age), moms and dads will be happy to note that there is an added benefit to introducing some solid foods that are already a part of the household, like carrots, into their baby’s diet. Carrots, along with many other other fruits and veggies contain vitamin C and carotenoids, nutrients that increase the production of virus and bacteria busting cells in the body.
Exercise and sleep should not be underestimated when waging war against infection. Physical activity causes blood that carries disease-fighting cells to circulate faster. The accelerated flow can also trigger the hormonal signals within the body that warn these cells against invaders. Getting adequate nap time into your toddler’s routine reduces stress hormone release and increases the amount of immune fighting cells as well.
Finally, parents should never underestimate the power of good hygiene. Hand washing should be emphasized before kids can get their hands on that peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Also, caring sometimes means not sharing the handful of animal crackers at lunchtime….or the virus that may come with the snack. A stomach bug can spread fast when kids engage in over-sharing at the lunch table.