22, Fév 2022
Strengthening the immune system of babies and children
The immune system is certainly one of the most complex systems of the organism. It results from the interaction between genetics and the environment that surrounds us, and it’s absolutely precious because it is thanks to its action that we are somewhat protected from infections.
We know that in the first 2-3 years of the child’s life it is immature, being children, at this stage, more prone to infections. However there are measures that we can adopt to strengthen immunity.
The best starting point to ensure the best possible functioning of the immune system is a good diet:
- Breast milk
Breast milk provides a complete and proper nutrition to the baby’s first months of life. It is composed of nutrients, antibodies and enzymes that strengthen the baby’s defenses, preventing infections, allergies, obesity, or even some kind of cancer.
- Food Diversification
From 4-6 months, it is important to perform, with due follow-up of a healthcare professional, a progressive food diversification, presenting the baby foods that will provide the nutrients and protective factors required.
Those who make contact with infants should perform good hygiene of hands, as well as adopt additional measures of protection, as masks for example, if they have any health problem transmissible by this route.
- Appropriate Spaces
Avoid small spaces and with a lot of people, or places where the baby can become a passive smoker, minimizing exposure to germs or the smoke that destroys the body’s defenses.
- Adequate Sleep
Good sleeping habits stimulate immunity and help prevent infections.
- Care with medicines
Medicines should be administered to babies by medical prescription, safeguarding the proper use. The overuse and misuse of antibiotics can lead easily to creating resistances. Likewise vitamin supplements should be used with caution because they can lead to negative effects on the health of the child.
It is important to ensure that the feeding of children contains some basic elements to good health of your immune system.
- Vitamins A, C and E
This trio of vitamins helps protecting the body from all kinds of threats.
Vitamin A can be found in food in two forms: animal (retinol) and vegetable (beta-carotene). Both are important for children, although animal shape be absorbed more easily. The best sources are the egg yolk, dairy and oleaginous fishes, as sardines. From plant sources, you can find beta carotene in carrots, sweet potatoes, orange peppers, tomatoes, peaches, papayas and in all green leafy vegetables.
Vitamin C can be found in citrus fruits, Kiwi, red berries, broccoli and cabbage.
Finally, vitamin E can be found in the essential fatty acids of oleaginous seeds, fish and respective oils. Its main function is to protect all cells of the human body from injuries caused by oxidation and maintaining a skin soft and healthy.
Iron is crucial for the immune system because it is used for the production of white blood cells and red blood cells-needed to carry oxygen and nutrients through the bloodstream.
Children who, for some reason, have a tendency to anemia, should strengthen the doses of iron, vitamin B12 and folic acid. The main symptoms of anemia are: constant fatigue, physical weakness, pale skin (particularly the facial skin), inside of the lower eyelid too pale, frequent crying, increased sensitivity to cold, poor memory, colds and frequent infections.
- Zinc and Selenium
Both are fundamental for the development of the immune system. Children who suffer regularly from colds, coughs and other infections, or those who have difficulty in healing of cuts and in the disappearance of bruising may have a zinc deficiency. If this is your case, make sure your child consumes daily food rich in this mineral. Zinc is found in all meat and poultry, eggs, yolk on sardines and tuna, the fish and seafood, an oleaginous in oats, rye, buckwheat, brown rice, walnuts, almonds and sunflower seeds.
Selenium already, necessary in smaller doses, it is less important. Acting in conjunction with vitamin E, protects the body from bacteria and virus and neutralizes the toxins. One of the most obvious ways of sensing a lack of Selenium is the frequency of respiratory infections. Shellfish, sesame seeds, wheat germ and nuts are excellent sources of selenium.
Besides stimulating the child to a balanced and varied diet, preventing obesity and other health problems that can weaken the immune system, it is also important to create healthy life habits with adequate routines of movement and exercise, rest and sleep, which stimulate a “strong” immune system.