Best natural immune boosters for toddlers
As your toddler grows, he/she starts to develop what is called ‘acquired immunity’. Each time a new virus or bug is encountered, the immune system launches into action making antibodies. Antibodies can be made after an exposure to an infection, for example, when your child gets sick, or after an immunization.
What can you do to support healthy immunity?
- Offer a balanced diet: Offering fruit and vegetables daily, together with wholegrain cereals, dairy, and some lean protein such as fish or chicken will provide your toddler with the essential macro and micronutrients needed for normal immune system function.
- Eat salmon twice a week: Omega-3 found in oily fish is critical for immune system function. Research shows that oily fish should be consumed at least twice a week [1,2].
- Vitamin C: Fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C include kiwi fruit, mango, watermelon and red capsicum. Vitamin C has been shown to improve immunity in children .
- Oat beta glucan: Beta glucan foods include oats and wholegrains, barley fibre, reishi, maitake and shiitake mushrooms, seaweed and algae.
What is beta-glucan?
Beta-glucan powder is often marketed as a cholesterol lowering agent; however the benefits of beta glucan extend beyond that of cardiovascular health. Beta glucan is a type of soluble fibre that benefits the digestive system by forming a gel in the digestive tract.
Beta glucan benefits
Together with insoluble fibre which provides bulk to the stool, foods that contain beta-glucan can help to support healthy digestive function. Did you know that the microbes in our gut play an important role in regulating immune system function ? Eating plenty of fibre from wholegrain cereals helps to keep the microbes thriving for a healthy immune system.
Beta glucan for immunity
If you’re looking for the best immune booster, research has also shown the benefit of beta glucan for immunity, in particular for children. In a clinical study of toddlers (1-4 years) in a daycare setting, beta glucan, administered as a supplement, reduced the incidence of respiratory symptoms and the number of sick days by about 50%! As if this wasn’t enough, beta glucan also reduced the need for antibiotics by more than 60% [5-7].
Natural immune booster for kids
Beta glucan in Australia is likely to come in the form of oats and wholegrains, as our typical western diet is low in seaweed, algae and exotic mushrooms. For children and toddlers, beta glucan can be eaten in the form of porridge, overnight oats, muesli and wholegrain muesli bars.
- Mohan D et al. JAMA Intern Med.2021;181(5):631–649.
- S Maggini. J Intern Med Research. 2010;38:386-414.
- Wu HJ et al. Microbes. 2012;3(1):4-14.
- Meng et al, J Nutr Food Sci 2016, 6:4
- Li et al. Pediatrics. 2014 Jun; 133(6):e1533-40
- Pontes et al. Nutr J. 2016, 15:19