Natural immune boosters for kids – Beta-glucan

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If you have young children in your home, you will know all about the frequency of upper respiratory tract infections in kids and babies. Snotty noses, water eyes, persistent cough, these symptoms are common among toddlers and school aged children. But someone has got to hold the family together, so mum and dad, you’ve got to keep your immune system strong! And make sure you get your kids eating some beta glucan foods for a simple immune system booster.

What is beta-glucan?

Beta-glucan is a type of soluble fibre found in foods such as barley, oats and wholegrains, reishi, maitake and shiitake mushrooms, seaweed and algae. It is the best immune booster you can add to your diet without having to undergo a complete dietary overhaul.

Benefits of beta-glucan for immunity

While the healing and immunostimulant properties of mushrooms have been known for thousands of years in Eastern countries, not a lot of attention has been paid to the humble beta glucan powder which has been pigeonholed into the cholesterol lowering corner. And while beta glucans are especially beneficial for reducing cholesterol, they are so much more than that!

For the immune system, beta glucans increase the body’s natural defense mechanism by enhancing the efficiency of immune cells. Without getting too technical, beta glucan helps our immune cells work faster, improving our defense against pathogenic bacteria and virus.

How to get more beta-glucan in your family’s diet

  1. Eat oats for breakfast! A warm bowl of creamy porridge is delicious on a cold morning. Add some cinnamon and apple puree for a delicious and hearty breakfast. Babies from 6 months of age can eat this, so the whole family can enjoy breakfast together.
  2. Make homemade sushi – seaweed is a rich source of beta-

    Beta-glucan in mushrooms

    glucan, as well as another compound called fucoidan, both of which have amazing immune stimulating properties. Some sushi combinations that your kids will love include:

  • Tuna Salad: Tinned tuna, cucumber, avocado
  • Veggie Rainbow: Red capsicum, shredded carrot, cucumber and red cabbage
  • Or plain avocado is always a hit.
  1. Shiitake mushroom risotto – A good risotto is always a winner for fussy eaters. Pack it with shitake mushrooms for an immune boosting dinner. You can even sprinkle some wakame flakes on top for an extra immunity boost.

Bibliography

  1. Akramiene D et al. Medicina (Kaunas). 2007;43(8):597-606.
  2. El Khoury D et al. J Nutr Metab. 2012;2012:851362.
  3. Rahar S et al. J Adv Pharm Technol Res. 2011;2(2):94-103.
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