Tis the season for runny noses and coughs, empty tissue boxes and antibiotics. If you, like most other families, are all too familiar with catching a nasty Winter cold, then a little immune boosting advice is exactly what the doctor ordered! According to Lindsay Archibald-Durham, our partner paediatric dietitian in Joburg, to improve your family’s ability to fight off colds and flu this Winter season, choose a wide range of healthy foods, and aim for whole foods, including whole fruits and veggies and whole grains, to make sure you’re getting all the healthy, natural goodness. Don’t get too focused on the latest “superfood” which although healthy, is not necessarily a cure-all. Here’s some immune boosting tips to keep your family healthy this Winter:
Eat your greens (and your yellows, oranges, reds…)
To help your immune system, aim for fruits and vegetables that are high in vitamin C, like citrus fruits, kiwi fruit, strawberries, bell peppers, broccoli, and sweet potatoes. Vitamin A is good for strengthening babies’ and children’s immune systems, and is also important for eye health and vision, and maintaining a healthy skin. For a Vitamin A boost, look for orange fruits and vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes and butternut, and dark green vegetables, such as spinach, cabbage and broccoli.
We know it’s not always easy to get your kids to eat more veggies, but creating a rainbow coloured veggie plate might entice them. Remember, look for fun and unique ways of cooking and serving fruits and veggies, such as butternut mash or sweet potato mash, or these cute flower-power bell pepper egg rings, which are sure to put a smile on your child’s face!
Drink your probiotics
Yogurt contains helpful bacteria called probiotics, which live in your gut and can improve the way your body uses food. They’re also important in helping your body fight illness. One study found that kids who had a daily yogurt drink had a 19% lower risk of colds, ear infections, and strep throat. Look for yogurt brands that say they contain live cultures. Looking for some recipe ideas that include yoghurt? Why not try this mango-yoghurt chia pot, or a kiwi-banana smoothie, or our favourite, these pumpkin fritters with a yoghurt dip. Yum!
Include nuts and seeds in your family’s diet this Winter. Walnuts have healthy Omega-3 fatty acids, which help your body fight illness. Omega-3s may cut the number of respiratory infections in kids, so sprinkle a few walnuts into a snack mix or on cereal.
Zinc is an important mineral that helps our immune systems function properly, by helping white blood cells fight off infection. The main source of zinc is meat, and meat is also high in protein which is important for keeping up strength. And choosing to eat more organically-farmed, ethically-reared meat is better for you, and it’s also good for our world – read this blog post for more on one of our meat partners.
During Winter, we still need to be mindful that we’re drinking enough water. Keeping hydrated helps to maintain a healthy immune system, by flushing out toxins and fighting unwanted germs. But it can be a challenge to get your kids to drink cold water when it’s cold outside! Look for other fluids they might enjoy, such as warm herbal, fruity teas, or rooibos tea, or coconut water.
As Winter takes it toll, we inevitably find ourselves with a sore head, a sniffly nose, and a visit to the doctor. But by eating more immune boosting foods, we can make the colder months a little more bearable, and put ourselves in good stride for Spring – which is just around the corner!
Here at The Munching Mongoose we believe in eating a little healthier, to make our bodies and hearts a little happier. Our bags and boxes include a healthy variety of seasonal fruits and veggies, free-range eggs and milk, handmade cheese, and freshly-baked bread. We also offer a range of delicious add-on products, such as immune boosting dairy packs and yoghurt drinks, as well as ethically sourced meat packs. All our products are free of nasties – pesticides, preservatives, colourants, hormones or antibiotics. Visit The Market to order!
This blog post was written in partnership with Paediatric Dietitian, Lindsay Archibald-Durham.