Every parent wants their child to stay healthy and fit, and one of the best ways to address this concern is by ensuring that they have a strong immune system. So let’s take a deeper dive into the subject. In simple words, your immune system is your body’s defense against disease. We have 3 different types of immunity:

  1. Innate immunity - Everyone is born with this type of immunity which offers a natural level of protection. For example, the skin acts as a barrier to block germs from entering the body, and the immune system recognises when certain invaders are foreign and could be dangerous.
  2. Passive immunity - This type of immunity can be obtained through breast milk. Therefore, it is important to maintain a healthy and nutritious diet during pregnancy
  3. Active immunity - Also known as adaptive immunity, is the type of immunity that can be developed through life, obtained through immunization, and depends on our lifestyle and the choices we make.

Given that we play an important role in determining our active immunity, we should make the most out of it, especially for our children! Among the factors listed, your child’s diet plays an important role in building their immunity. Therefore, it is always helpful to follow a diet rich in immune boosting foods. Listed below are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding the relationship between diet and immunity.

  1. Does food play a major role in immunity?

    Food plays a very important role in building a healthy immune system. For instance, following a balanced diet rich in nutrients can offer protection against seasonal illness and other health problems.
  2. What other factors affect my child’s immunity?

    Other than food, stress and sleep can also affect your child’s immunity. In addition to maintaining a proper diet, ensure that your child is getting enough sleep (preferably 8-10 hours). It is important to remember that a good sleep-wake schedule is proven to reduce levels of stress, which will help maintain a healthy immune system.
  3. Does my child need to eat non vegetarian food for a good immune system?

    No, it is not necessary to follow a non-vegetarian diet to build a healthy immune system. For most healthy children, a vegetarian diet can provide a nutritious alternative to a diet that includes meat. Ensure that the diet contains nutrient-rich foods that contain zinc, selenium, iron, copper, folic acid, and vitamins A, B6, C, and E. It is possible to obtain some of this from supplements (e.g. vitamin B-12), if not found in vegetarian food.
  4. Which vegetables help my child’s immune system?

    Vegetables are a great source of antioxidants and vitamins that can help your child’s immune system. Green leafy vegetables like spinach, broccoli and kale are rich in iron and vitamin C. Moreover, spinach is packed with nutrients like beta-carotene and antioxidants that improve your body’s disease-fighting ability. Additionally, ginger and garlic have vital anti-inflammatory properties and help maintain a healthy gut; consequently strengthening the immune system. Sweet potato, rich in vitamin B6, and pumpkin, which contains vitamin A, will also help develop a healthy immune system.
  5. Are there any foods that weaken the immune system?

    You should note that while there are no such foods that weaken the immune system, high sugar and consuming too much refined carbohydrates may reduce your child’s ability to fight infections or diseases, especially if these foods are consumed at the cost of eating healthier options. Therefore, to maintain a healthy immune system, processed foods, sodas and refined carbohydrates (white bread, white rice, pasta etc) should be minimized.
  6. Can water consumption boost my child’s immunity?

    Undoubtedly, drinking water will not only boost your child’s general health, but will also help build his or her immunity. It is important to make sure that your child is always hydrated, as drinking enough water will naturally flush out toxins and other bacteria that could potentially cause any illness.

As a parent, you have an opportunity to keep your child as healthy and nourished as possible, but remember that several factors may be out of your control. It is essential to note that falling sick is unavoidable and at times even a blessing in disguise! Once your child recovers from an illness, they will have built some immunity against it, making their immune system stronger and more resilient in the future, so don’t stress! Just make sure that you are doing your part to ensure that your child follows a balanced diet rich in immune boosting foods.