Boost A Child’s Immune System This Winter
We don’t want to see them missing out on any festive fun with a nasty cold and all of the unpleasant runny noses, hideous headaches and grumpiness that they can bring. With the school Christmas holidays fast approaching now seems like the perfect time to double check that young children are fighting fit and ready to tackle everything that this special time of year can throw at them…
It can be quite difficult at the best of times to get children to engage with healthy foods, but once the grip of winter takes hold, fuelling them with immune system boosting foods becomes paramount, as they can help them to fight colds. Well, here at Lockie Schools, as supporters of healthy eating in schools, we have been looking into affordable, easy to prepare, appetising and nutritious food, which will help to give children a timely immune system boost – just before the festive period goes into overdrive!
A glass of vitamin C rich orange juice is common place for many of us – as we seek a healthy boost at breakfast. Equally, allowing children a small glass with breakfast or at snack time can have some positive health benefits.
The health benefits of vitamin C is widely documented. It has been shown that vitamin C aids the production of white blood cells, which help to fight infections – which can be invaluable during winter. There is also scientific evidence that draws a link between the consumption of vitamin C and enduring shorter colds. This is good news for everyone as it could help children get back to their usual energetic selves sooner rather than later!
Considering that fruit juices are readily available in lunch box cartons, it seems like a very good place to start any immune system boosting activity during the colder months. Lockie Schools knows that orange juice is popular in school breakfast clubs and when you understand the health benefits it is easy to see why.
The main things to remember in this case is to make sure that the fruit juice does actually contain fruit – surprising we know!. This is usually indicated by a logo showing how many portions of the recommended ‘5’ a day’ a serving would offer. There are also some fruit juices out there that are full of added sugar, so it’s best to avoid these when possible.
Milk is another readily available immune boosting food which is affordable and popular amongst children. In fact, milk has been a long term favoured school provision, which speaks volumes for its health benefits. Here at Lockie Schools, as we are strong advocates of school breakfast clubs, we know that milk in ever popular in schools all over the UK.
It is rich in calcium, which contributes to healthy bones, but it can also benefit children in other ways…It is also enriched with vitamin D, which is another building block to a healthy immune system. There is a link between lower levels of vitamin D and increased risk of respiratory infections. So whether it’s a glass at school breakfast club, a carton at snack time or a splash on their favourite cereal, it is quite easy to get the benefits of vitamin D into a child’s system.
Flavoured milk is also an option, but please consider that some flavoured milks may be high in added sugar. So it’s always worth checking the packaging. The ‘Traffic Light’ system that is widely adopted on most food packaging nowadays is quite easy to understand, so this is a good way to make the an informed choice.
Carrots and Sweet Potatoes
Interestingly orange fruits and vegetables tend to be very beneficial to the immune system. For example, beyond the humble orange, foods such as carrots and sweet potatoes are rich in beta-carotene. The consumption of foods with this richness helps our bodies to produce vitamin A, which is essential in the maintenance of a strong immune system.
Moreover, vitamin A helps to keep the mucous membranes which line our nose and throat firing on all cylinders. The production of a healthy mucous is very important, as it serves as one of the body’s first lines of defence in cold prevention. The best thing is that carrots and sweet potatoes are widely available, relatively cheap and can be cooked in so many ways. They can be mashed, turned into chips, roasted, boiled, or in the case of carrots chopped into sticks and eaten raw as a healthy snack. We know that after school clubs that use our Money Pockets use snacks such as carrot sticks to fill the gap between school dinner and evening meal.
Why not trying mixing a few carrots or sweet potatoes into the next mash you make for an extra vitamin A boost?
Or maybe a carrot and sweet potato soup – the perfect winter warmer.
Oats seem to be a food growing in popularity in the UK – often occupying an entire isle in supermarkets. It is easy to see why, when you consider their versatility and affordability. They come in all forms, ranging from instant and rolled to whole and oatmeal – in all sorts of flavours and sizes.
They are easy to prepare in the morning as a warming breakfast, buy in snack bars or make overnight with yogurt (see overnight oats – did someone say school breakfast club idea?). They are relatively cheap compared to other types of popular cereal and can be made up in large batches to feed many hungry mouths in school. In terms of their health benefits, they contain a type of fibre called beta-glucan, which is praised for its cholesterol-lowering and immune-boosting properties.
Moreover, our favourite thing about oats is that they can be flavoured with all sorts of other healthy foods. Try them with honey, low-fat yogurt, bananas, assorted berries and nuts or grains. The more healthy foods you add into the mix the more filling and nutritious the humble bowl of oats will become. Lockie Schools recognises that children like to be engaged with the foods they are eating , so using fruit and other items to create faces or patterns in bowl of oats could be a winner!. Please Let us know if you try this at your school breakfast club and how your children found it.
Garlic, Peppers and Mushrooms
We think that these foods can be combined to make a hearty, healthy and comforting pasta dish. Each of these key ingredients brings something of value to the maintenance of a healthy immune system.
If we take garlic for an example, a food that has been used for by many civilisations, it has some interesting health benefits. In fact, early civilisations were able to identify that when garlic was used in cooking it helped to make the sick well!. It is also believed that garlic can help to lower blood pressure and boost the immune system thanks to its heavy concentration of Allicin.
Additionally, red peppers can contain more vitamin C than some citrus fruits, whilst mushrooms, which are available in such wide varieties in today’s supermarkets, offer fibre, anti-oxidants, vitamin B and potassium to name a few.
It doesn’t take a gourmet chef to mix these ingredients up with some tomatoes and cooked pasta of your choice and cook something delicious and healthy – so we think this could be a winner in any school or home!
Food For Thought
So there you have it, a quick guide to some immune boosting foods and recipe ideas…
It’s surprising that although a lot of these foods are probably commonplace on lots of school menus and family dinner tables, that many of us might not fully appreciate the incredible health benefits they offer.
The festive period can be relentless and the cold winter mornings can leave us all feeling a little bit under the weather. However, we hope that with enough immune system boosting foods in our diets that everyone can enjoy their Christmas festivities and welcome the New Year in good spirits and even better health.
Note: Please check through any recipes before use to ensure that any allergy information and nutritional values are understood and suitable,