It’s that time of the year once again when the weather is changing, bringing in its wake a slew of infections, caused by the return to action of germs of various hues. And those most susceptible to this change of weather are children. Naturally, this puts mothers in a state of worry, as they would like to see their little ones tide over the season’s dangers with the least discomfort. But that’s easier said than done – for, to achieve this, your child needs something special – a strong immune system.
That’s right! A strong immune system is the key to your child being able to fight recurring seasonal infections caused by viruses, bacteria (pathogens) and free radicals, say health experts.
But first things first. As a mother, you must have often wondered why your child calls in sick every time weather conditions flip. Scientific studies have found that factors, such as weakening of the immune system, changes in the protective mucosal barrier and deviations in the nature of pathogens are the reasons why change in weather and environmental temperature is accompanied by a rise in infectious diseases. Seasonal flu and infections are detrimental for your child’s physical, mental and social development, leading to loss of productivity, unsatisfactory scholastic performance and poor cognition.
So, here are some useful tips to keep your child’s immunity up and kicking even when the weather takes a turn for the worse:
1. Micronutrients give ‘Macro’ immunity: Nutritional deficiencies in your child affect the immune system negatively. According to many research studies, poor micronutrient status in the body is linked to a weak immune system in children. In fact, poor immune response is the earliest sign of micronutrient deficiency2. This is because the immune system needs a continuous supply of micronutrients, such as iron, folic acid, vitamins A, B, C, D, E, and K, Selenium, and Copper, among others, for immune cell regeneration2. Adding green leafy vegetables, fruit, nuts, dairy products, pulses and whole grains through preparations which are interesting and tasty, will attract your child in a good way to meet the nutrient requirements.
2. Say nutritional supplementation: Children have high nutritional requirements to aid their rapid physical and mental growth. As per United Nations Subcommittee on Nutrition, most children fail to meet 100 percent of their daily requirements for micronutrients through normal diet2. Don’t panic – read on. Supplementing and adding value to the regular diet through fortified health drinks, such as Horlicks, helps meet your child’s nutrient needs easily. Along with the goodness of milk, malted wheat and barley and 23 vital nutrients, Horlicks has Vitamin D and Selenium which are known to support your child’s immunity.
3. Load up on ‘D’ sunshine Vitamin: Low levels of Vitamin D in the body, one of the most essential nutrients for healthy skeletal growth and immunity building, has been strongly linked to increased predisposition to infections3. Seasonal variations in Vitamin D status have, in fact, a significant bearing on the rate of infection3. This is because Vitamin D has a role to play in immune cell multiplication, differentiation and production of anti-bodies3. During monsoons or the cold season, your child is less exposed to sunlight, one of the richest sources of the nutrient, leading to insufficiency of Vitamin D. It thus becomes imperative that you supplement your child’s diet with dietary supplements and health food drinks, such as Horlicks.
4. Increase their playtime: Encouraging your child to indulge in some physical activity and exercise gives a boost to their immune system. Being physically active has been shown to have a positive effect on children’s immunity through reduction in inflammatory substances and increase in non-inflammatory substances4. So, let your child play games, run and jump around, in the process fortifying them with the ability to ward off harmful infections.
5. Inculcate good hygiene practices: Good personal and general hygiene is considered very important when it comes to maintaining strong immunity levels. Unfortunately, most parents tend to overlook this aspect. Disinfection of household surfaces, consuming clean drinking water, proper sanitation and good hand hygiene practices, all are vital for perfect immune health. Ensure that your child takes a bath regularly and washes hands before and after visiting the toilet in order to avoid transmission of microbes. Using a strong anti-septic solution may not be necessary, simply washing hands with soap and water can do the trick5.
Disclaimer: Horlicks contains 9 nutrients (Vit B6, B12, C, D, Copper, Folic Acid, Iron, Selenium and Zinc) which are scientifically proven to have an important role in supporting immunity. References:
THE SCIENCE INSIDE