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18/09/2021

Healthy Living: Do your homework for back to school immunity

Healthy Living: Do your homework for back to school immunity

Mixing with plenty of other children, the start of school is a likely time for the little ones to pick something up picture: pixabay

Schools are about to open again, and with the current climate you might want to consider some extra support for the little ones. The stress that comes with this time of the year greatly impacts our immune system and deplete our nutrients.

Radio ads are full of multivitamins and probiotics, and no wonder. Their synergistic effects support the immune system and help us deal with stress. Our digestive tract represents 70% of our immunity.

Probiotics (good bacteria) help to fight off bad microbes, and at the same time, regulate the immune system so it may work to its optimum. They support the absorption of nutrients necessary for the production of our immune cells.

It is a good idea to top up the most important Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria species by taking probiotic supplements for a month at each changing of season and if taking any medications - especially alongside antibiotics. It is even better practice to eat properly fermented foods daily – as it is part of Eastern cultures. Kefir, sauerkraut, and kombucha are the best ones, due to the microbial diversity therein. While they require a certain taste, kefir can be added to commercial yoghurts or smoothies.

Daily intake of a good variety of fruits and vegetables are needed, not only for their exceptional nutrient supply, but because they feed our beneficial bacteria with soluble fiber, helping them colonize our system. Other great sources of soluble fiber are whole grains and legumes (beans and peas).

Aim for 1 piece of fruit and 4-5 portions of vegetables a day.

Vegetables can be incorporated into burgers, falafel balls, omelets / egg muffins, soups, baked meals – where thin slices of courgette and toasted aubergine can replace pasta sheets (e.g. lasagna, moussaka), courgette spirals warmed through can stand in for spaghetti, sweet potato and turnip mashed can top shepherds’ pie and raw veggie sticks can go with tasty dips.

Sugar on the other hand weakens the immunity. Never allow a refined product to replace a balanced meal – it is better to let the child go hungry than to feed them rubbish.

If a child is reluctant to eat well, give him/her digestive enzyme supplements before meals, get a good quality multivitamin and focus on their good gut bacteria with a diverse probiotic. In time, improving gut health will turn the mind around and make them more interested in variety – but be consistent and don’t give in.

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