Little ones often sniffle, sneeze, and shiver during the ice-kissed winters. And most of us are aware that the flu virus thrives more in winter than in summer. While nothing can completely stop a cold attack, a healthy immune system can help children battle the germs that cause cold and flu better.

Gloomy cloudy days, shorter days with less sunshine, and a drop in temperature can often affect your child’s mood and energy levels as well. Moreover, as the temperature drops, the body’s metabolism slows down, and consequently, the body’s temperature falls. So let’s remedy these common problems, shall we?

Nutrients to boost immunity during winter:

  • Vitamin C: It is universally acknowledged by all as the nutrient that enhances immunity and helps fight infections. Oranges, sweet lemons, limes, guavas, and amlas are all rich in this immunity-boosting nutrient. You can make it a routine for children to have a glass of lime or mosambi juice with breakfast during winters, or better still, they can be encouraged to eat the whole fruit, like an orange, as a snack. This way, they can bag the extra benefits of fibre!
  • Vitamin E: Yet another immuno-nutrient, vitamin E helps fight off dryness, a major concern during cold weather. It is naturally present in wheat germ, nuts, dark leafy green veggies, and fish.
  • Vitamin A: Found in dark green leafy vegetables, fleshy sweet potatoes, carrots and pumpkins, vitamin A is sure to enhance the immunity of your kid.
  • Zinc: This is another nutrient that helps build immunity, which in turn works actively to ward off all germs and infections. You can ensure your child is consuming enough of it by incorporating legumes like chickpeas, beans, and red meat in his diet.

Nutrients to beat the blues

  • Omega-3 fatty acids: Popularly known as the ‘good fats’, they reduce the frequency with which children fall sick during the cold season. Walnuts, fish, chia seeds and flaxseeds are excellent sources of the same. You can incorporate chia seeds into your child’s diet by adding a spoonful to his milk to make falooda. Flaxseeds can be roasted, powdered and included in salads and soups. Kids can even munch on crunchy flaxseed or sesame or groundnut chikkis.
  • Tryptophan: It is an amino acid that is vital for synthesizing serotonin, the happy hormone, which can uplift your little one’s mood and beat the winter blues. Good sources of tryptophan are eggs, pineapples, and nuts.
  • B-complex vitamins: The cold weather is the first excuse your child might give for low energy levels. However, you would love to see him run around more and enjoy the season, right? Luckily, energy can be boosted by providing enough of vitamin B. How is that? B complex vitamins directly affect your kid’s energy level and cell functions. So, make sure you cook sufficient whole grains and cereals and provide enough milk to children. Also, at least one egg every day can get your child up and running.

Bite the biting cold: Not just warm soups and hot beverages

Finally, you might also like to offer some warmth through food, apart from packing your children in those woollen sweaters, monkey-caps and hand warmers.

  • Whole grains and millets such as maize (makkai), bajra, ragi, jowar are warming and energizing.
  • Honey drizzled over fruits or added to milk can keep the body warm and fight off infections in winter.
  • Gond ke ladoo made from tree gum, semolina, and dry fruits, is known to provide heat and keep little ones warm all through winter.
  • Papaya and pineapple are both warmth-providing fruits.
  • Spices provide warmth and immunity apart from flavouring foods.
  • Tulsi, turmeric, and ginger are the other immunity boosters, which not only have anti-microbial properties, but also keep the body warm.

Lastly, don’t forget to cut down on junk food as they can wreak havoc on the immune system in winter. Also, remember to cook with seasonal produce, like hearty winter greens or methi, palak, sarsoon (mustard leaves), amaranth, mint, and radish greens. These are high in vitamins A, C, and minerals like iron and calcium. Protein-packed pulses, lentils, and beans and nuts like pigeon pea, broad beans, green peas, and groundnuts are also winter specialities!