Veggies Keep Your Immune System Strong

Part 3 of 5
This is the third part of a five-part series on preparing for a potentially tough flu season.

A Healthy Diet for a Strong Immune System
The best flu prevention strategy is regular exercise, sufficient sleep, proper hygiene (hand washing), and good nutrition. A healthy diet, packed with vitamins and nutrients, including immune-boosting foods such as fish, citrus fruits, and leafy green vegetables, will help your family avoid the flu. This is especially important as H1N1 (swine flu) is expected to increase this fall and winter.

Eliminate Sugar & Processed Foods
For a strong immune system, able to fight off viruses, like the flu, don’t eat sugar and processed foods. Sugar suppresses the immune system, almost immediately, and sugar’s effect lasts for up to five hours. Sugar is an ingredient in most processed foods. If your children start the morning with sugared cereal, eat some cookies or colored fruit rollups with lunch, drinks a soda, and has ice cream or cake for dessert, their immune system is compromised the entire day!

Madison is snacking on snap peas, which support her immune system.

Eat More Fruit & Vegetables
Whole foods are better than supplements for the prevention of colds and flu, because you get the whole nutritional package. Eating fruits and vegetables do a better to keep your immune system strong, than taking the vitamins alone. An orange is better for you than just taking vitamin C. An orange provides a combination of nutrients: magnesium, potassium, folate, vitamin B6, flavonoids, and of course vitamin C.

Although, there are a couple of whole food supplements which will help support a healthy immune system along with a healthy diet. Almost everyone (even children) is defiant in Vitamin D. At your child’s next doctor visit ask to check his/or her vitamin D3 levels. In the meantime, you can incorporate cod liver oil in your family’s daily routine to optimize vitamin D levels. Carlson’s Cod Liver Oil with lemon is one of the very best. It’s high in Omega-3 fatty acids, too. The other supplement important for a strong immune system is probiotics. Probiotics help keep your child’s intestinal track healthy, making it possible to properly absorb the nutrients from food. You can purchase probiotics designed especially for children.

Families usually eat fewer fruit and veggies during the winter months. This is opposite of what you should do. Eating at least five servings of fruit and vegetables every day will help you and your family consume the vitamins necessary to keep your immune systems strong.

You can incorporate more fruit and veggies by:
• Drinking 100 percent juice
• Incorporating fruit and veggie snacking
(Try veggies like edamame, snap peas, and julienne slices of zucchini and cucumber.)
• Preparing at least one veggie for both lunch and dinner
• Making strawberry or blueberry fruit smoothies for breakfast
• Making yummy healthful desserts like pumpkin pudding, peanut butter-apple bars, and baked apples
• Eating more winter fruits: oranges, lemons, grapefruit, and pumpkins
• Packing dried fruit and carrot sticks for a yummy snack, when you’re on the go
• Making veggies yummy…the Italian way

Kids Won’t Eat Veggies?
In Baby BitesTM I provide a clear plan, which is easy for parents to follow. First, parents improve the nutritional value of their children’s foods: the foods they’re presently eating. Simultaneously, incorporate positive-discipline and directed-play during mealtimes. The key to success in transforming a picky eater is the synergy of the Baby Bite Steps. It’s the combined effect of the steps that’s greater than the sum of their individual parts. In just about a week, your picky eater will be tasting new foods…and enjoying it.

Next Week: “The flu vaccine” and “What to do if you get the flu”

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