COVID 19: Five ways to boost immunity in ECEC services using nutrient rich food
If boosting the immunity of children in your care is at the forefront of your mind right now, you’re not the only one! Now, more than ever, the power of a healthy, nutrient-dense diet has never been more important.
Here at Wholesome Child we want to give educators and parents the tools they need to stay healthy, strong and vibrant in the wake of the Coronavirus and the upcoming flu season.
Here are my top 5 immunity boosting tips:
Tip 1: Eat the Rainbow –Children love colour, and so do our immune systems! The more variety of colour in our diet (the natural kind!) the larger the range of essential vitamins and minerals we’re getting into our systems to help fight off unwanted illnesses.
- Think strawberries, oranges and capsicums for Vitamin C to help strengthen resistance to infection. Try my Strawberry Beetroot Smoothie for a pop of colour in your day!
- Green vegetables like broccoli, brussel sprouts and spinach contain essential micronutrients like Vitamin A, Vitamin C, fibre and calcium to help boost immunity.
- Blueberries make an excellent addition to the diet as they’re rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and amino acids thereby helping to promote a healthy immune system.
Tip 2: Love Your Guts – ‘gut health’ has become a buzzword in the health industry over the last few years, and for good reason! A healthy gut microbiome is essential for not only maintaining a healthy digestive system but also for keeping the immune system strong.
- Bone broth is the perfect addition to mealtimes as it contains calcium, magnesium and phosphorus making it nature’s multivitamin! Try adding bone both to soups and casseroles or even adding to favourite recipes like Spaghetti Bolognaise (in place of stock) to pump in some extra nutrients with children being none the wiser! Here’s my recipe for Wholesome Bone Broth.
- Adding sauerkraut or fermented veggies is another way to boost your gut health. Try our fermented carrot sticks
- Focus on prebiotic rich food, which promotes the proliferation of healthy bacteria in the digestive tract. Good sources of prebiotics are found in vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds and legumes. Try our Choc Kale and Hemp Bliss Balls or Sweet Potato Lentil Balls
Tip 3: Vitamin and Mineral Support – many people reach for Vitamin C to help shorten the duration of a cold or flu… and it’s that time again! Studies have shown that both Vitamin C, Vitamin D and Zinc can actively strengthen immunity and natural defences against flu viruses, and now there are new studies investigating it’s potential to fight the Coronavirus.
- Vitamin C can be found in many food sources including citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, limes), kiwi fruit, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, dark green vegetables and tomatoes. Try our Veggie Pasta Sauce or Beetroot Spinach Bliss Balls
- Zinc is a trace mineral that also plays a role in immunity and can be found in protein-containing foods like red meats as well as shellfish and wholegrains like quinoa. Why not try our Quinoa and Veggie Frittata.
- Vitamin D is best acquired from a daily dose of sunshine. It’s also found in oily fish, cod liver oil and egg yolk.
- Supplements may also be helpful during this time, but please speak to your health care professional for personal advice
Tip 4: Be a Superfood Superhero – what better way to boost children’s health than filling their diet with nature’s superfoods!
- Shiitake mushrooms are a great place to start, they contain all 8 essential amino-acids, are packed with B vitamins plus have the ability to boost the immune system. A 2015 study found that consuming mushrooms improved cell effector function, improved gut immunity and reduced inflammation. My Chickpea Mushroom Patties are the perfect way to get some fungi into a child’s diet, simply swap the brown mushrooms for shiitake for some extra immune-boosting power. Adults might like to try some mushroom extract supplements for an extra boost but please consult with your trusted healthcare professional first.
- Include chia seeds for more antioxidants than blueberries
- Salmon for omega-3s to help reduce the occurrence of infections.Try my Salmon San Choy Bow for a fun DIY meal
- Broccoli for an abundant supply of antioxidants, Vitamin C, calcium, iron, beta-carotene and folate.
- Grass-fed beef or lamb are also excellent sources of iron and immune-boosting zinc.
Tip 5: Keep Up the Fluids – whilst washing hands frequently is super important right now, so is keeping ourselves hydrated! As we head into the cooler months it’s common to not reach for our water bottles as much as we should.
- Try to avoid high-sugar soft drinks and fruit juices and instead encourage children to sip on water throughout the day.
- Keep things interesting and sneak in some extra nutrients by offering healthy smoothies and cold-pressed vegetable juices.
- And don’t forget the many benefits of herbal teas for the adults, some of my favourites include Lemon & Ginger, Chamomile and Rooibos.
As a bonus, I’ve created this Immunity-Boosting Cheat Sheet below just for you so that you can refer to it easily before getting stuck into your next shopping list!
Main vitamins and minerals to be dosing up on now:
- Citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, limes)
- Sweet potatoes
- Leafy greens
- Kiwi fruit
- Brussel sprouts
- Grass-fed beef and lamb
- Kidney beans
- Egg yolk
- Peanut butter
- Pinto beans
- Sunflower seeds
- Sesame seeds
- Sunshine – it’s free! Get outside and get some sun on your skin every day.
- Egg yolk
Probiotics (read my blog post for more info)
- Live cultured yogurt (organic and/or grass fed are best)
- Fermented vegetables (kimchi, sauerkraut)
- Natto (fermented soy beans)
Whilst this is an uncertain time and there is a lot out of our control, feeding children with nutrient rich foods, the best we can, is one (very important!) way to feel like we’re taking action and protecting them. Stay well and don’t forget to look after yourself as well!