Good health – is the most prized possession of all. Everything in life is useless if you don’t have the health and strength to enjoy it. We want good health for our children. We would do just about anything to ensure that our children are healthy. But very often we are not sure what to do. So, here is an article that tells you what to do. Here are the 10 things you can do to improve your child’s immunity right now
We cannot hand our children good health on a platter. Children fall sick In spite of our best efforts. Illness is frightening. It is also emotionally and physically taxing. But children must fall sick in order to become healthy.
Falling sick is one of the important ways in which children build their immune systems and graduate into healthy adults with good immune systems. Falling sick in the early years, ensures that your child will have a strong immune system that will keep him or her healthy in later life. However, while it is important and necessary for children to fall sick sometimes, it is a relief when the number of bouts of illness can be reduced and immunity can be built and strengthened in other ways as well.
10 things you can do to improve your child’s immunity
1. The easiest way to keep Newborns healthy is by Breastfeeding them
At birth babies are protected by immunity that they have acquired from their mothers in the womb. In the nine months that babies spend inside the womb – substances called immunoglobulins are pushed into them through their mother’s blood that circulates through both of them. In the first few days after the baby is born these immunoglobulins ensure that the baby remains healthy.
However, as the days go by and the baby becomes older, the amount of immunoglobulins gradually decrease. As the level of immunoglobulins decrease, the baby’s immunity to infection also comes down and it is at this point that parents need to supply the child with more immunoglobulins.
Supplying immunoglobulins to the baby could have been a very tough task – but nature has made things very easy for parents by filling breast milk with immunoglobulins. With every breastfeed – mothers can fill their babies up with immunoglobulins and keep them healthy by keeping the level of immunoglobulins the same as it was at birth. Breastfed babies therefore are much less likely to fall sick and stay much healthier than a bottle fed baby.
2. Keep your house clean – don’t disinfect
The immune system needs germs to thrive and become stronger and function well.
Yes – cleanliness is very important for good health and it is extremely important to keep things around us clean. But when you clean, it is important to remember to focus on only on removing the dirt. Do not go overboard and remove all the germs.
In other words – it is good to clean, but bad to disinfect.
When a child is born – he is born with an immature immune system that is not trained to recognize germs and kill them. Children need to come into contact with germs to train their immature immune systems to identify germs and act against them. When children are kept in clean environments that have a moderate number of germs – their immune systems learn how to recognize these germs and develops strategies to fight them. This can be achieved when ordinary soap and water is used to clean the house.
When disinfectants are used to clean however – it is not just dirt that is cleaned away – disinfectants also wipe away all the germs. Disinfectants sterilize the environment and so when disinfectants are used to clean, the child’s immune system never encounters germs. The untrained immune system remains untrained. It never learns how to recognize and fight germs. And an untrained immune system is easily over powered by even the weakest of germs. Children with immune systems like this, fall sick very easily.
Use soap and water to keep your house clean. Do not use disinfectants to wipe out all the germs. Allow your child to constantly encounter some germs. They will gradually build his immunity and prepare your child for the big bad dirty world.
3. Make sure your child washes his hands frequently
It has been proved beyond doubt that keeping the hands clean is the easiest and most effective way to prevent infections.
Hands go everywhere and touch everything. Especially when they belong to little children. And disease causing germs are present everywhere. Hands therefore are the transporters of germs. Hands carry germs from the outside world into your child’s body. It is important to teach children that they must wash their hands frequently to stay healthy.
It is also important to teach children how to wash their hands correctly. Hands have an extremely complex structure because of the amazing things that they are capable of doing and there are various nooks and corners on the hands that can remain dirty and germ laden even after children have washed their hands – if they have not been taught how to wash their hands correctly.
4. Ensure that your child eats a balanced diet
The immune system is made up of cells. And these cells function well only when they are fed all the nutrients in the right quantities.
Carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals are all required to keep the immune system functioning at its optimum capacity. Children who eat too much junk food or those who eat the same food at each and every meal – often lose out on important nutrients. Nutritional deficiencies affect the cells of the immune system and make them prone to various diseases. To build your child’s immunity and keep him from falling sick often – ensure that he eats a balanced diet.
5. Protect children from air pollution
Air pollution damages the immune system and causes various diseases.
Most parents realize how harmful air pollution is and they try to lock away their children in A/C environments to protect them from the effects of air pollution. However, what they don’t realize about air pollution is, that pollution does not necessarily have to be visible in the form of fumes to cause damage. The seemingly clean A/C environments are polluted too.
Indoor air pollution is as real as outdoor air pollution. The only way to keep children healthy is – to take them outdoors – to parks –where there are lots of trees and where they can play under the open skies. That is where the air is truly non polluted and best for children.
Passive smoking is another terrible way in which children are exposed to the hazards of air pollution. Passive smoking can lead to various respiratory and other problems. Parents must stop smoking altogether and if not should certainly not smoke in the presence of their children.
6. Ensure that children get enough sleep
The immune system functions best in a well-rested body.
Children are constantly on the move – doing something or the other with their bodies and minds and so they need long hours of rest for their bodies to recover from all this activity.
Only when children are resting and not engaged in external activity – can their bodies use the time and resources at hand to work on internal systems like the immune system that keep the body healthy. Children who have busy lives and are engaged in various academic and extra-curricular activities – often do not get enough sleep. And this results in them falling sick repeatedly because their immune system is not functioning at optimal capacity. This happens because their bodies do not have the down time they require to manufacture the cells and substances needed to protect the body from infection.
To stay healthy – children require a minimum of 10 hours of sleep every night. Ensure that your child gets 10 hours of sleep.
7. Ensure that your child drinks enough water
The immune system is made up of cells. And the cells of the human body are primarily made up of water.
70% of each cell is water.
And so – more than anything else – the immune system needs water to function efficiently.
Water also has the function of keeping the body clean and toxin free. Water washes out the wastes and toxins that accumulate in the body as a result of the daily tasks that it constantly performs. In a waste and toxin free environment, all the systems of the body to function better – including the immune system. Encourage your child to drink lots of water through the day. Remind him to drink even more water when it is hot and when he is engaged in outdoor play.
8. Inculcate an exercise routine
The body needs exercise to function well.
While it is not known how exactly exercise benefits the body – it is known that exercise has three distinct effects on the immune system. First and most importantly – exercise increases oxygen supply to the lungs. This ensures that all the cells in the body including the cells of the immune system – have more oxygen and can function better. Second – exercise improves circulation and ensures that immune cells reach all the corners of the body and keep every inch of the body clean and protected. Third – exercise reduces stress and this helps the immune system to function better.
Children should be encouraged to engage in play that involves a lot of physical activity to keep them healthy
9. Reduce the stress in your child’s life
Childhood by definition is supposed to be stress free, but children in today’s world are extremely stressed. And stress causes children to fall sick more often.
When a person is stressed his immune system does not function well. This is because – during times of stress, the hormone cortisol is pushed into the blood. With the hormone cortisol is in circulation – the body feels it is in danger. Cortisol prompts the body to focus on either fighting the danger or running away from the danger. When the body is preoccupied with combating danger – it forgets to focus on the immune system. The immune system is neglected and poorly maintained and cannot fight germs adequately – resulting in infection and disease.
10. Do not over medicate
No one enjoys illness. But while it is very important to ensure good health by preventing infection and illness, panicking when your child is ill and giving a whole bunch of medicines to bring your child back to apparent good health – is not such a good idea.
When children are given medicines to bring down fevers or when children are given antibiotics to cut short the duration of an illness – the good health that emerges – is only an illusion. Children need to suffer through certain illness to coach their immune systems to fight infection adequately. Cutting short the duration of these illness only results in the immune system remaining untrained and not learning how to fight the infecting organism – which results in repeated infection and illness. Always medicate only on your doctor’s prescription. You damage your child’s immune system by self-medication.
Be brave and suffer through the illness when your child is sick. And work towards building better health and immunity when your child is ill