As a parent, you know the importance of having a healthy immune system when your child returns to school. The immune system plays a vital role in your child’s health as it defends against viruses and bacteria they come in contact with daily. Fortunately, some nutrients can help support your child’s immune system when cold and flu season rolls around. Certain nutrients, such as selenium, iron, zinc, vitamins A, C, D, and E, play an important role in the function of the immune system. In this article, you will learn about 5 immune-supporting foods to help your child stay healthy for back-to-school this year.
Berries are a powerhouse when it comes to nutrition. Their high levels of vitamin C, fiber, and powerful antioxidant properties make berries an excellent choice when it comes to immune support. There are many choices when it comes to berries; choose fresh or frozen strawberries, blueberries, or blackberries. You can add these to your child’s oatmeal or yogurt, blend into a smoothie or add them into their lunchboxes for a nourishing lunch or snack option.
When choosing yogurt for your child, always make sure to get yogurt made with active cultures and opt for a plain or unsweetened version to keep it low sugar. These active cultures in the yogurt are what we call probiotics; these help meditate and regulate the immune system. Try adding yogurt into a smoothie, serve as a parfait topped with berries, or even try on top of oatmeal for an added boost of immune support.
This cruciferous veggie should be on the top of your grocery list. Broccoli is packed with nutrition with numerous immune-supporting nutrients: these include vitamins A, C, and E, along with many antioxidants to help fight free radicals in the body that can cause damage to cells. You can serve this green veggie roasted, steamed, or raw. Try serving alongside a dip such as a ranch or hummus to add more flavor to this nutritional powerhouse.
Sweet potatoes are a great option to serve when it comes to immune support. This orange vegetable contains high levels of beta-carotene, which is a precursor of vitamin A.
Beta-carotene has many health benefits, including high levels of antioxidants and vitamin C. It also has been shown to increase the number of white blood cells and increase the activity of killer cells. You can turn this vegetable into oven-baked fries, steamed whole, or puree to make an orange mashed sweet potato side dish.
Seeds are the perfect snack for school because they are an excellent nut-free, protein-rich snack option. Pumpkin, sesame, and hemp seeds are all rich sources of zinc, which is a mineral that aids the immune system. Sunflower seeds are a good choice as well because they are also rich in immune-supporting nutrients such as selenium and vitamin E. Providing a variety of seeds will ensure that your child gets all the nutrients needed to stay healthy. Try adding seeds to trail mix, baking them into muffins, or adding them to homemade granola for an added boost of nutrition.