First, you and your child need breakfast. Eating breakfast triples the body’s production of a natural antiviral compound, gamma interferon, reducing the chances of you or your child suffering from a viral infection by as much as half, according to researchers at the Netherland’s Maastricht University Medical Centre.
Fruits and Veggies
After that, ensure that you and your baby’s diet includes fruits and veggies containing vitamin C, carotenoids (i.e., beta-carotene) and bioflavonoids.
Pay particularly close attention to peaches for vitamin C (one cup of fresh frozen peaches contains more than double the amount of vitamin C than oranges) and sweet potato, carrots, spinach, and butternut squash for carotenoids.
Foods such as red bell peppers, sweet pepper, strawberries, citrus fruit, broccoli, brussels sprouts, garlic, spinach, as well as tropical fruit like mango and papaya, contain bioflavonoids which help protect the body’s cells from infections.
A serving for a toddler is about two tablespoons, while older kids need 1¼ cup. Be sure to avoid fried foods and other sources of trans fats, which can weaken your immune system.
Antibacterial Products, Hand Washing and Secondhand Smoke
Antibacterial Products and Hand Washing
Overuse of antibacterial cleaning products can kill bacteria that will actually help your kids’ immune systems get stronger. Basic cleaning supplies and hand soaps are enough.
“When doctors at the U.S. Navy’s Great Lakes Recruiting Training Command Center in Illinois ordered recruits to wash their hands with soap and water five times daily, the number of respiratory infections among recruits plunged 45 percent.”
Children who are exposed to secondhand smoke are more prone to ear infections, coughs, colds, bronchitis and other respiratory problems. This is because the 4,000 different chemicals in cigarette smoke, which can linger on furniture and carpets, can weaken the immune system of anyone who inhales it.
For many, kicking the habit isn’t as simple as it seems, but keeping a no-smoking in the house or car rule will help.
Exercise and Sleep
Exercising for just 30 minutes a day can cut you and your child’s risk of catching a cold by 50 percent, say researchers at Appalachian State University in North Carolina.
The release of the human growth hormone during exercise simultaneously doubles the body’s production of antibodies, making white blood cells more aggressive when they encounter something the body needs to fight off.
Being chronically tired doubles your and your child’s risk of catching an infection and may increase the length of time it takes to fight one off.
The body needs deep sleep to build up antibodies. Add 30 to 60 minutes at night or take daily naps to cut your risk of upper respiratory infections in half, plus cut your annual sick days 30 percent or more, say researchers at Cornell University.
Newborns need up to 18 hours a day, toddlers 12 to 13 hours, and preschoolers about 10 hours. Make sure you and your child are getting enough sleep and exercise.