Breastfeeding your baby is a wonderful natural defense for his immune system. La Leche League explains that breast milk has been found to have 90 different oligosaccharides that form over 900 different chemical structures. This enables the body to prevent infection-causing bacteria from sticking to the gut wall. If your child is over 6 months of age, the age most doctors recommend to start solids, there are foods that may give his immune system an additional boost to help fight off viruses and bacteria.
Vitamin C usually comes to mind when one gets sick. Known for its immune-boosting effects, is found naturally in several fruits and vegetables. Guavas, papayas, strawberries, kiwis, cantaloupe, oranges and grapefruit are among the top seven Vitamin C-containing fruits. Infants need 150 mg daily, while toddlers and preschoolers should get 250 mg daily. The Vitamin C will help increase the production of infection-fighting white blood cells and antibodies, helping prevent the entry of viruses. Chop up any or all of these various fruits and make a delicious, and colorful, fruit salad for your baby. Mash or serve in soft, ripe dices as finger food.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
The Ask Dr. Sears website states that adding Omega 3 fatty acids can improve many aspects of a child’s health, including the immune system. Ironically, most kids do not eat enough of it and the body does not naturally make it. Breastmilk is a provider of this essential fatty acid, and there are a few foods that have it too. Eggs, fish, wild rice, canola oil, flax and beans are all ideal sources for this essential nutrient. Flax is an ideal choice for Omega 3 and it can be ground up and sprinkled on steamed veggies, added to fruit or veggie purees or sprinkled on top of yogurt. Be sure to give with plenty of fluids, as it is rich in fiber.
Probiotics are the healthy bacteria in the immune system. They help regulate the intestines and internal immune system. The use of antibiotics, which most children need at some point, kills this friendly bacteria and leaves a child more susceptible to other illnesses. Probiotics are an effective immune booster and should be taken daily for a healthy immune system. They can be found in foods such as yogurt, buttermilk, ice cream, juice and cheese.
Vitamin A helps regulate the immune system’s response to infections and may even protect the brain from vaccine side effects. It is also is essential for the growth and development of cells, as well as skin health. Foods that provide a substantial amount of Vitamin A include sweet potatoes, leafy greens, butternut squash, apricots and cantaloupe. While Vitamin A promotes a healthy immune system, it is important to take the proper dosage, as it can build up in the body, causing headaches, skin changes and in extreme cases, liver damage. Mash up some sweet potatoes and sprinkle on some ground flax seed for a double boost.