20 excellent immunity-boosting foods that should be part of your child’s diet
Your child’s immune system is one of the best ammunitions in his or her fight to live a healthy life, and it needs to be protected by you, every day, through a healthy and balanced diet. So, here’s a list of foods that can boost your child’s immunity if he or she is above 5 years of age or a pre-teen.
But wait, let us understand first why are these foods so crucial for your child’s health.
Why are immunity-building foods important?
There are many factors that affect your child’s immune system and its ability to fight infections, like sleep deprivation, stress, and lack of exercise. Yet, most experts agree that the right diet is one of the most important factors that create a healthy immune system. Several studies have shown that those who live in poverty and suffer from malnutrition end up being more vulnerable to infections, providing a clear link between nutrition and diet.
Some of the vital immunity-building micronutrients that need to be part of a healthy, balanced diet are zinc, selenium, iron, copper, folic acid, and vitamins A, B6, C, and E. Let us take a look at the foods that contain these nutrients and can be considered the best immunity boosting foods for kids.
Banana is one of the best immune-boosting foods for children because it contains vitamin B6. After all, moderate to severe deficiencies of B6 can cripple the immune system. Banana is also a great immune-boosting food for toddlers and they can consume it as a whole fruit or you can chop it up and add to cereals or smoothies.
Sweet potato also has vitamin B6, which is essential for better immunity. In addition, it also contains high amounts of protein, potassium, fibre, and vitamin A.
Chickpeas are a great source of vitamin B6 as well as zinc. Moderate or severe zinc deficiency can impair both lymphocyte and phagocyte cell functioning in humans and chickpeas are a great way to prevent that from happening.
Almonds are one of the best immune system booster foods. They are a great source of iron, vitamin E, and zinc, all of which have been linked to better immunity.
Walnuts are another great source of zinc. The best part about nuts like almonds and walnuts is that they can easily be incorporated in your child’s diet as a mid-meal snack.
Curd contains non-pathogenic bacteria of Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium species, commonly known as probiotics. Probiotics have been known to improve the immune system, particularly in cases like diarrhoea.
Rajma (kidney beans)
Rajma or kidney beans are a great source of zinc and iron. Plus, they’re quite popular with kids and are fairly versatile — so whether you’re making beans and nachos or rajma-chawal, you should add this nutrient-dense food to your kid’s diet.
Jaggery is a great food to increase immunity. It’s one of the best sources of iron. Plus, the sweet taste it has makes it a great favourite with kids. A simple snack of ghee, roti, and jaggery is a great tiffin idea.
Pumpkins are a rich source of vitamin A. Vitamin A supplements have been known to improve overall immunity against diarrhoea, measles, and a few other diseases. However, excess amounts can cause toxicity, so it's always better to consume it as part of a natural, balanced diet.
Amla is one of the best sources of vitamin C, a nutrient that has been known to boost the immune system and reduce the duration of the common cold.
Guava is another great source of vitamin C that can easily be included in your kid’s diet as a mid-meal snack.
Papaya is another great breakfast food/snack. It is a natural source of vitamin A, apart from being beneficial for overall digestion.
Musk melon is a rich source of naturally-occurring Vitamin A. It has a sweet scent and taste and can be added to fruit salads.
Green leafy vegetables
While they may not always be popular with kids, you must incorporate green leafy vegetables like spinach, cabbage and lettuce into their diet. They are a good source of vitamin C, vitamin A, folic acid, and iron, making them some of the most nutrient-dense foods.
Raisins are another great source of iron, while also containing other nutrients like copper, magnesium, and potassium.
Carrots are a well-known source of vitamin A and have long been regarded as one of the best foods to improve immunity.
One of the best sources of iron, black chana curry makes for a great lunch meal with roti or rice.
Citrus fruits like oranges, sweet lime, and grapefruit are among the best sources of vitamin C, providing a natural antidote to the common cold.
Garlic can easily be added to home-cooked meals and is a wonderful source of selenium, which reduces the oxidative stress in the body, decreasing inflammation and building immunity.
Curcumin, a prominent compound in turmeric, is known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and hence is an immunity booster. Plus, the good news is that turmeric can be easily incorporated into soups and stews.
Keep an eye out for these excellent immunity-boosting foods, and make sure they get integrated into your child’s daily diet.