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Boosting children’s defenses – How to boost your little ones’ immune system for back-to-school in the fall

Although the development of the immune system begins in the womb, parents should strengthen the defenses in children and promote their health. Compared to an adult’s defenses, the child’s acquired immune system lacks experience with foreign antigens. In addition, the innate immune system is not fully developed at the time of birth. Here are some important information and tips to strengthen children’s immune response that can help you in your daily life.

Preventing pathogens and strengthening defenses in children

strengthening of the immune system important for toddlers and schoolchildren in cold seasons

Children and parents need to be smart with their nutrients and vitamins to support their immune systems and protect themselves from all the other germs they are exposed to either in the classroom or at home. For those going back to school or kindergarten, this can be a double-edged sword for parents. On one hand, it’s great to have them out of the house and back into the school routine and hustle and bustle. On the other hand, it often means they are sick more often. In addition, contact with many other classmates also means more germs. Especially for young children, this means more bouts of common infections like gastrointestinal illnesses, coughs and colds.

take proper measures at the beginning of school and protect children from diseases with hand washing

So what can you do to make sure your little ones have a top-notch immune system capable of handling any infections that come their way? Be prepared first and foremost and find the right balance between learning good hygiene practices to help toddlers avoid germs. The pandemic has taught people some good practices, such as washing hands with soap and water. You can also make sure your children’s bags are filled with essentials to keep them protected while on the go, with hand sanitizer and tissues being almost essential these days.

Keep in mind the importance of nutrition in children

benefits of fruit for toddlers due to fiber and vitamins against pathogens and colds

Make healthy eating something the whole family just does. Children learn from their role models and parents or guardians as they watch and copy. For example, if you eat whole foods, balanced meals are normal. A healthy diet also provides them with the nutrients their bodies need for good immune function, including vitamin C, zinc and iron. However, most of the immune system is located in the intestines. The function of these defense cells depends, among other things, on intestinal bacteria. For this reason, children benefit from a well-nourished intestinal flora.

healthy breakfast with fruits and oatmeal suitable for children

In addition, regular intake of fiber-rich foods is quite important if you want to strengthen the defenses in children. Therefore, make sure to eat enough plant-based foods such as whole grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. This variety of fiber types promotes a diverse microbiome and trains their immune system by helping it function as it should. The majority of parents agree that fruit and vegetable intake and a balanced diet are the most important factors in building their child’s immunity.

Avoid antibiotics and give them only in emergencies

weak immune system in parents and children can lead to autumn illnesses

In cases of increased susceptibility to infection due to congenital or acquired immune deficiency, the pediatrician initiates a well-reviewed treatment procedure. In normal development, medicinal measures to strengthen the immune system are not necessary, as the child’s immune system grows and matures. The immune system is trained and strengthened for later. Antibiotic medications are prescribed more than 154 million times per year, which can range from a sore to an ear infection. The purpose of antibiotics is primarily to kill bacteria that cause infections, and sometimes they are undoubtedly life-saving. However, in many cases, taking antibiotics may be unnecessary. This is important because antibiotics not only destroy pathogenic bacteria, but also kill the beneficial bacteria in the gut microbiome.

alternative to medicines through homeopathy and food supplements for children

If a doctor prescribes antibiotics for your child (or you), don’t just accept the prescription without asking a few questions. How necessary are these antibiotics? How likely is it that your child’s natural immunity will resolve the problem without the medication? Are there more natural antibacterial options? Doctors who focus on natural health sometimes recommend alternatives like colloidal silver over antibiotics to boost children’s immune systems without depleting the microbiome.

Boost immunity in children with vitamins or supplements

strengthen children's immune system with more vitamins from summer fruits like watermelon

Consider supplementing to replenish important nutrients, especially if your child is a picky eater, has food restrictions for any reason, including vegetarianism, or simply has trouble eating healthy all the time. Combining a multivitamin and minerals can be a good safety measure. The basis for a well-functioning immune system is a varied, balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables according to the food pyramid. This is because the child’s immune system can only fight off pathogens optimally with the right mix of nutrients. The following vitamins and minerals are particularly important for a strong immune system:

smiling girl at school during lunch break can promote health through nutrition

  • Vitamin A supports both the innate and acquired immune systems. It is involved in maintaining the skin and mucous membranes, the outer barrier against pathogens. Vitamin A is found in animal foods such as liver, and its precursor beta-carotene is found in colored fruits and vegetables such as carrots, spinach, tomatoes and apricots.
  • Vitamin D supports, among other things, the macrophages (scavenger cells) of the nonspecific defense system as well as the lymphocytes of the specific defense system. It is formed in the skin by sunlight. It is found mainly in fatty fish such as herring or salmon, as well as in porcini mushrooms and chicken eggs.
  • Vitamin C protects, among other things, the cells of the immune system by scavenging free radicals (antioxidant effect). It activates macrophages and is found, for example, in citrus fruits, peppers and cabbage vegetables.
  • Among other things, zinc improves the maturation of certain immune defense cells. Meat, milk, cheese, legumes and whole grain products are particularly rich in the trace element.
    Selenium is important for both the innate and the acquired immune system. Good sources of selenium include nuts such as peanuts and Brazil nuts, and certain types of fish such as herring and tuna.
  • Iron improves the activity of macrophages and, among other things, increases the number of lymphocytes, which are part of the white blood cells. It is found in meat and meat products.

Tips and home remedies for self-help and natural remedies

small homeopathic balls as an alternative remedy can strengthen defenses in children

Immunostimulants can strengthen the defenses of adults, but can be dangerous for children. For example, garlic is not allowed for children under 10 months. Honey must also not be given to children under one year of age. The use of the above-mentioned supplements should also be discussed with a pediatrician before the first intake. In addition to microbiological therapy, which is intended to rebuild damaged intestinal flora, phytotherapy and certain methods such as traditional Chinese medicine, Schüssler biochemistry or nutritional therapy approaches can also be used to strengthen the immune system.

Try alternative remedies instead of medications

mother administers medicine in the form of drops and wants to strengthen defenses in children

In addition to the complaints, homeopathy also takes into account the specific mental and constitutional conditions regarding the physical disposition and mental structure. Before using phytotherapeutics, however, you should first consult your pediatrician. Helpful options are:

  • Ribwort to relieve dry cough.
  • Marshmallow for irritated mucous membranes
  • Fresh purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) in a special preparation for children (2 years and older).

To strengthen the immune system in children, you could also use the following remedies:

  • Echinacea D2 stimulates the immune system. Be careful with small children, in case of daisy allergy or chronic diseases.
  • Dulcamara D12 for complaints due to damp weather.
  • Silicea D12 for a tendency to slow suppuration. Silicea stimulates the activity of the body’s own defense cells.
  • Calcium carbonicum for worsening of symptoms due to physical and mental exertion, cold, damp air, water or washing.
  • Thuja D12 in case of tendency to inflammation of the respiratory and urinary tracts as well as cold hands and feet, sweaty skin, warts.
  • Ferrum phosphoricum D12 among others in case of fatigue, lack of concentration due to a disorder in iron metabolism.

Take the right measures

strengthen children's defenses naturally in autumn with a walk outdoors in cold weather

Also, allow yourself and your little ones enough time outdoors where you are exposed to the flora of microorganisms around them, rather than a bleached, chemical-laden floor in a house with closed windows and little air movement. As the saying goes, laughter really is the best medicine, too. In addition, laughter lowers stress hormone levels while supporting white blood cells, which are responsible for fighting infections.

prevent pathogens and colds and strengthen children's immune system with countermeasures

In addition, you can support the child’s health by taking the following simple steps:

  • Sufficient fluid intake prevents the mucous membranes from drying out and thus reduces susceptibility to infections. Still water or herbal teas are recommended.
  • Avoid dry air, for example through ventilation or humidifiers.
  • Sauna and Kneipp cure – also in weakened form – harden the body. The prerequisite, however, is that the child is not too young and goes along voluntarily.

Strengthening children’s defenses with essential oils and herbs

use of herbs and essential oils against pathogens

Eucalyptus and oregano have been shown to have antibacterial and immunomodulatory properties. Try diffusing scents like these in your indoor environment to support immunity for the whole family. Eucalyptus oil has an energizing effect, while food-grade oregano essential oil can be added to meals to enhance flavor as well as the child’s immune system.