How to: Boost your child's immunityChildrens-immunity-280

Colds and fevers are really doing the rounds, so how can we help protect our little ones and boost their immunity? Ensuring toddlers get their five-a-day can help them fight common colds says says nutritional therapist at Bio-Kult Infantis, Natalie Lamb

Natalie gives us her top five tips for helping to boost your child's immunity this winter.

1. Stick to the five-a-day

Dishing up three wholesome meals each day is a great way to pack lots of goodness and nutrients into your toddler. In particular, nutrients such as zinc, vitamin C, vitamin E and selenium are well known for supporting the immune system. Eating a range of colourful fruits and vegetables should provide a mix of these and other essential nutrients. Getting children involved in choosing vegetables and enjoying all the different shapes and colours can be fun.

2. Boost Your Toddler's Vitamin D Levels

Vitamin D, aka the sunshine vitamin, is extremely important for boosting your tot's immune system. From January onwards fat soluble Vitamin D stores can become depleted and many will experience more winter coughs and colds. Vitamin D is well known to contribute to the normal function of the immune system. Taking a Vitamin D supplement could help to boost levels during the winter months.

3. Give them a probiotic

As 70% of the immune system is located in the gut a balanced gut flora from birth is essential to stimulate the development of the infant's immature immune system. Their gut bacteria play an essential role in supporting the development of a strong healthy immune system. This can be compromised during the winter months if busy fighting off all those bugs. Multi-strain probiotics such a Bio-Kult Infantis have been shown to significantly reduce the frequency and severity of common colds commonly picked up in play groups. A recent study* also found that after just nine weeks of taking a probiotic supplement Vitamin D levels were increased by more than 25%. So when not able to eat fermented foods in the sunshine it may be advisable to supplement with a probiotic and some Vitamin D3.

4. Avoid sugar

Simple sugars and refined carbohydrates (breads, pasta, biscuits, cakes etc) that are common in children's snacks and processed foods are known to feed unwanted bacteria and yeast in the gut, encouraging their growth instead of beneficial immune supporting strains.

5. Prepare three nourishing meals per day

Good quality protein sources such as meat, fish, eggs and legumes are the building blocks for many immune cells. Slow cooked soups and stews are delicious and believed to support a healthy gut lining where all the immune cells lie.

* Study: Jones ML, Martoni CJ, Prakash S. 2013. Oral Supplementation With Probiotic L. reuteri NCIMB 30242 Increases Mean Circulating 25-Hydroxyvitamin D: A Post Hoc Analysis of a Randomized Controlled Trial. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. Jul;98(7):2944-51.

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