Kids’ Immune System – How to Strengthen?

 A network of cells, organs, and proteins make up the immune system. The immune system is responsible to fight any infection attacking the body (Klosterman, 2009). A few aspects that can impact the body of a kid negatively may include improper diet, vitamin deficiency, lack of sleep, or stress (Lipski, 2006). A single solution cannot be employed to boost the immune system. There are many ways to strengthen the immune system of the kids for the long-term duration by adapting healthy choices of living.     

Tips for Strengthening Kids’ Immune System

Load up on a Balanced Diet 

A better immune system starts with a healthy and balanced diet (Ströhle and Hahn, 2009). A balanced diet should consist of immune-boosting foods. Such type of food helps the body to fight infections, repair damaged cells, and protect against illness. A balanced diet should consist of a variety of food items like vegetables and fresh fruits, pulses, seeds, nuts, lean protein, and good fats (Hoyles and Vulevic, 2008). Vitamin C and vitamin D play a crucial role in making better the immune system of kids (Carr and Maggini, 2017; Sassi et al., 2018). Immune-boosting foods containing such nutrients should be a part of the daily diet of kids. Make the food interesting for kids by choosing colorful vegetables and fruits and cutting them in different shapes. 

Sleeping Well

School-aged kids require sleep between 9 and 11 hours (Hirshkowitz et al., 2015). However, kids are facing a lack of sleep. The immune system of the body becomes weak due to a lack of sleep. It leaves children open to infections and getting ill (Besedovsky et al., 2012). Overstimulation and overtiredness in kids cause difficulty in sleeping (Smaldone et al., 2007). Creating a bedroom environment that is quiet, peaceful, and comfortable often helps kids sleeping.

Managing Stress

Stress does not only affect adults but kids as well. The school could be a source of stress for kids. Stress increases the concentration of stress hormones, which in turn weakens the immune system. Stress results in fewer production of germ-killing white blood cells (Glaser and Kiecolt-glaser, 2009). If you think your child is under stress, you can help him by teaching them taking deep and slow breaths or introducing exercise to release the feeling of stress.  

Have Fun Together!

Make sure that having fun is a part of your kid’s life and that your kid laughs daily. Take part in fun activities with your kid and laugh together. Studies show that the function of the immune system boosts by laughter. Laughter increases the cells which produce antibodies. It increases the level of endorphins, the feel-good hormones, and reduces the level of stress hormones (Yim, 2016).  

References

Besedovsky, L., Lange, T., Born, J., 2012. Sleep and immune function. Pflugers Arch. 463, 121–137. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00424-011-1044-0

Carr, A.C., Maggini, S., 2017. Vitamin C and Immune Function. Nutrients 9, 1211. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu9111211

Glaser, R., Kiecolt-glaser, J., 2009. Stress Damages Immune System and Health. Discov. Med. 5, 165–169.

Hirshkowitz, M., Whiton, K., Albert, S.M., Alessi, C., Bruni, O., DonCarlos, L., Hazen, N., Herman, J., Katz, E.S., Kheirandish-Gozal, L., Neubauer, D.N., O’Donnell, A.E., Ohayon, M., Peever, J., Rawding, R., Sachdeva, R.C., Setters, B., Vitiello, M.V., Ware, J.C., Adams Hillard, P.J., 2015. National Sleep Foundation’s sleep time duration recommendations: methodology and results summary. Sleep Health 1, 40–43. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sleh.2014.12.010

Hoyles, L., Vulevic, J., 2008. Diet, Immunity and Functional Foods, in: Huffnagle, G.B., Noverr, M.C. (Eds.), GI Microbiota and Regulation of the Immune System, Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology. Springer, New York, NY, pp. 79–92. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-0-387-09550-9_7

Klosterman, L., 2009. Immune System. Marshall Cavendish.

Lipski, E., 2006. Digestive Wellness for Children: How to Strengthen the Immune System & Prevent Disease Through Healthy Digestion. Basic Health Publications, Inc.

Sassi, F., Tamone, C., D’Amelio, P., 2018. Vitamin D: Nutrient, Hormone, and Immunomodulator. Nutrients 10, 1656. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu10111656

Smaldone, A., Honig, J.C., Byrne, M.W., 2007. Sleepless in America: Inadequate Sleep and Relationships to Health and Well-being of Our Nation’s Children. Pediatrics 119, S29–S37. https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2006-2089F

Ströhle, A., Hahn, A., 2009. [Vitamin C and immune function]. Med. Monatsschr. Pharm. 32, 49–54; quiz 55–56.

Yim, J., 2016. Therapeutic Benefits of Laughter in Mental Health: A Theoretical Review. Tohoku J. Exp. Med. 239, 243–249. https://doi.org/10.1620/tjem.239.243

 

Article by:

Dr. Wasif Yasin, M.B.B.S

U.H.S, Lahore, Pakistan.

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