5 Immune-Boosting Foods to Fight Back-to-School Germs
Photo Courtesy Lianne Phillipson-Webb
Your kids’ immune army needs a leg up over what hits them as they enter the school gate. Do you find that come September, bacteria breed at high speed as soon as kids head back to school? You might not be able to prevent your kid from catching stuff, but you can increase their ability to fight it off,and keep it from becoming a full-fledged infection.
Before I talk about food, remember that the initial lack of sleep in the first weeks as the early alarm goes off, makes for a sleepy and weak immune system. If possible, start to wean them back to an earlier wake up time four days before the big B2S day.
Five Foods to Brace the Immune System
Red, yellow, orange and green peppers are a sweet side to any sandwich or wrap. They are packed with vitamin C, one of the most important immune boosting vitamins there is. Bones, skin and heart also benefit from the sweet crunch of peppers. Other vitamin C rich foods include avocados, banana, kiwi, kale, parsley, broccoli, tomatoes, mango, citrus fruits, black currants, berries, pineapple, tomatoes, cherries, cantaloupe and strawberries. Add at will.
Seaweed is packed with nutrients, trace minerals and even essential fats. There are packs of seaweed popping up in stores, so grab some and let the kids try it out. It’ll satisfy the need for crunch at lunch. Zinc found in seaweed is what’s going to prop up the immune army. Other zinc rich foods to include are mushrooms, asparagus, oats, wheat germ, brewer’s yeast, soybeans, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, herring, eggs, dark meat poultry and miso (as in soup).
Hummus is a sneaky way to get some virus and bacteria killing garlic into your kid’s lunch. Not that you want to embarrass your kid with a stinky lunch, but hummus or even garlic bread (made with pressed garlic mixed with butter and spread on bread then toasted) along with a Thermos full of hot soup will have the immune army standing at attention with each mouthful.
Berries of all kinds offer vitamin C as do peppers above, but also contain flavaniods. These phytonutrients boost vitamin C’s effectiveness, help reduce inflammation (think sore throat). All immune complexes are more active in the presence of flavanoids. Their anti-viral activity has been studied with more life threatening virus than the average cold or cough, so will be welcome by the body.
Kefir offers probiotics that get to the immune system where it’s most vulnerable, the intestines. Helping overall immunity to beat any type of virus or bacteria, probioitcs can also come from plain yogurt. I say plain because the addition of sugar negates the beneficial bacteria found in yogurt. Pinehedge Farms is a popular brand of kefir and found in many supermarket and health food store dairy cabinets. Send it in an insulated water bottle to drink with lunch or try it with the recipe below. Note: most dairy products may increase mucus production, so when your child is sick, avoid dairy as much as you can.
Crunchy Fruit Cup
Note: can be made the night before and kept in the refrigerator.
1/4 cup oats or Nature’s Path Agave Granola
6 tbsp plain greek yogurt or kefir
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
6 strawberries, blackberries and/or handful of blueberries
Mix yogurt and vanilla together. Layer yogurt, berries then oats/granola from the bottom of a tall, slim container. After layering twice, finish off with berries on top and cover. Serve that day.
Recipe taken from Sprout Right’s Smart Kids Breakfast and Lunch Meal Plan