Foods and habits that can help strengthen your child's immune system

Dr. Taz Bhatia, an immune support and wellness physician, offers seven tips parents can follow to help keep their kids healthy:

Add foods high in vitamin C:

Citrus fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C like: oranges, grapefruits and beets support and help build a strong immune system. “With children, we really want them to get their vitamins through food, so the earlier you can establish some of these healthy eating habits, the better for their overall health,” Bhatia says.

Make chicken soup a weekly option:

Another immune-supporting food for kids is chicken soup. It isn’t just an option when children are sick. “It’s a great food to bring in maybe a couple of times a week to keep the immune system primed and supportive,” she explains. Chicken soup produces collagen that helps keep skin, hair and bones strong. It also has antiviral and antibacterial properties.

Check out the video above for more tips.

Video Transcript

TAZ BHATIA: Hi, there. It's Dr Taz again, and if you're like me, you're worried about keeping your children healthy. Well, here are some foods and habits to keep your children's immune system right where it needs to be.

We know that high-vitamin-C foods, especially our citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruit, and vegetables like beets have tons of vitamin C in it that really support and help the immune system. With children, we really want them to get their vitamins through food, so the earlier you can establish some of these healthy eating habits, the better for their overall health.

Another immune-supporting food for kids is chicken soup. Chicken soup actually produces collagens and other amino modulators that keep the immune system primed and actually act as an antiviral and an antibacterial.

My next tip is all about sugar. Are they drinking too many sweet drinks, too any juices in a given day? And how much of their sugar is refined sugar or sugar from convenience foods or packaged foods versus natural sugars that we find in things like fruits? The more we can lower sugar, the healthier they will be.

Aromatherapy is also beneficial for our kids, and it's really easy. Rosemary, eucalyptus, and even tea-tree oil are some of my favorite oils to use in children. You typically want to rub them on their wrist, maybe on the sides of the nose, or you can diffuse them or they can steam with them to help get all the therapeutic benefits of these essential oils.

We know that most children need about 10 hours sleep a night. That's 10 hours of continuous sleep. The younger ones need 12 hours, and even those teenagers and adolescents, they shouldn't be skimping below 10.

Children need exercise probably even more than adults do. The daily dose is critical for the immune system. We know that when they're active, when they're running around, it also helps to produce chemicals, cytokines, that support the immune system rather than fight against it.

Teaching children to wash their hands has now, more than ever, become so important. So teaching your children some of these habits to where it becomes routine is going to help them as we come out of this pandemic.

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