Under attack from autumnal lurgies? Kids fighting off another bout of sneezing and snotty noses? Sadly, there’s no miracle solution to stop them catching colds, but One Handed Cooks’ nutrionist Jess Beaton has some great healthy eating tips to boost little ones’ immune systems and shorten their recovery time if they do get crook.
“We’re often asked what’s the number one ‘superfood’ to fight infections in the winter months,” Jess says. “[The bad news is] there’s no one single food that will cure a cold or fix the flu. Rather a range of essential nutrients from a variety of foods is your answer.”
Listen to Jess's interview with Kinderling Conversation:
With winter on its way, here’s her top ten cold-busters to beat the bugs and daycare nasties.
It's got antibacterial and antioxidant properties that help maintain general health and wellbeing. Adding garlic to your diet can reduce the severity and duration of colds and flu.
Lean red meat
This is rich in iron and zinc and keeps your immune system fighting fit. Iron from animal foods such as red meat, chicken, fish and pork is better absorbed by your body than plant sources of iron.
Salmon - and other deep sea oily fish such as sardines - are a super source of omega-3 fatty acids. These not only help to ensure healthy brain development in kids, they also have anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties to help ward off sickness and fight infections.
Probiotic yoghurts don’t just contain probiotics, they include zinc too. Probiotics are good bacteria that are needed by the body to maintain a healthy digestive system. Along with improving digestion, probiotics prevent overgrowth of bad bacteria and increase your resistance to infections.
Vitamin C, found in many fruits (such as blackcurrants, oranges, strawberries and blueberries) and vegetables (like red capsicum, leafy green vegetables and sprouts) is well-known for its immune-boosting capacity. Kiwi fruits are one of the richest sources of vitamin C.
Sweet potatoes are rich in beta-carotene which the body converts to vitamin A. Beta-carotene, found in many orange-coloured fruits and vegetables (including carrots, pumpkin, rock melon and mangoes) has antioxidant properties which help to fight off infection.
Leafy green vegetables
These are rich in phytochemicals and provide a valuable source of vitamin E. Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant to protect the body’s cells from damage.
Chickpeas, beans and lentils are high in fibre and are also a good source of iron. They act as natural ‘immune boosters’ in the body.
Nuts and seeds
These contain phytochemicals, vitamin E and fibre. Fibre is essential for good health. It maintains your bowel in good balance and keeps your immune system strong.
This has anti-inflammatory properties which can help to relieve symptoms and reduce the duration of colds and flu.
One Handed Cooks' cold-busting recipes
If your little ones are crook and off their food, tempt them with one of Jess’s five quick and easy recipes for sick kids:
Boost your basic Bolognese – by packing it full of veggies such as garlic, lentils, zucchini, spinach and parsley.
Comfort them with chicken soup - It's a cliche when you're sick, but nothing tastes better. Use organic chicken if you can and pack your soup full of nutritious veggies.
Whip up a fruit smoothie – including ground nuts and a dollop of Greek yoghurt (containing probiotics)
Homemade baked beans on toast – So much better for you than canned! Smaller babies will love these fork-mashed or pureed, while toddlers and older kids can spread them on toast soldiers.
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