Fuel up to fight illness with immune boosting foods

Fuel up to fight illness with immune boosting foods

As the new school year kicks off, it is essential to consider the types of food your child will eat to stay healthy and strong. Although eating certain foods will not prevent any diseases, you can make sure to include foods high in nutrition in your child’s diet to strengthen their body and immune system. Let’s begin this school year by adding some new food items to your child’s lunch or snack. Nichole Reed, a Le Bonheur clinical dietician, shares ideas for immune-boosting food items and explains how they can benefit your child.

The best strategy for building a strong immune system is good nutrition. No one food or supplement can prevent illness, but incorporating foods high in antioxidants provide your body with the best fuel to fight off illness.

Did you know our body is made of trillions of these cells? Yes, trillions! So it’s our job to keep them healthy. Antioxidants are substances that prevent or slow damage to cells in our bodies. Common antioxidants are beta-carotene and Vitamins C and E.

  • Anthocyanins are in grapes (lunch box staples!) and berries.
  • Beta-Carotene is found in, you guessed it, carrots! Other foods high in these antioxidants are mangos, spinach, sweet potatoes, broccoli, and tomatoes.
  • Vitamin C is found in oranges, mandarin oranges, and other citrus fruits. Other fruits rich in Vitamin C include berries, apples, mangos, pineapples, and kiwis. Veggies packed with vitamin C are broccoli, bell peppers, tomatoes, kale, cauliflower, and Brussel sprouts.
  • Vitamin E is an antioxidant found in nuts and seeds.

For lunch and snacks, incorporate quick grab and go items such as fresh fruits or pre-portioned bags of trail mix. Also try out some of these quick and easy recipes featuring fruits and veggies high in antioxidants!

Ensuring your children are eating healthy foods and getting proper nutrition is one of the fundamental steps to boost their immune system. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most children in the United States eat a diet that is 40 percent empty calories - calories that provide no nutritional value. Approximately half of these empty calories come from six sources: soda, fruit drinks, dairy desserts, grain desserts, pizza and whole milk.

Along with consuming nutrient-rich foods, it is just as important to reduce our intake of foods that do not support a healthy immune system. Foods high in calories from sugar, saturated fat, and trans fat should be consumed only once in a while. My advice is to take these foods out of the home since it’s hard to have them in moderation if they are within reach.

Want to learn more about Obesity Medicine at Le Bonheur?

Obesity Medicine

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