Uncertain times as pandemic has put tremendous pressure on parents to work on their children’s immunity levels. Being confined to homes, they no longer play and exercise outdoors, under the sun and open air. Glued to gadgets all day has further taken a toll on their physical and emotional health. Unhealthy snacking and lack of proper sleep routine have silently led to several health disorders like heightened anxiety, bordering obesity and reduced immunity levels in children.
The immune system, as we understand through modern medicine, is a network of cells, enzymes, proteins and organs that fight back infection to keep the body healthy. Through constant interaction with the microbes in our environment, and within our gut, our bodies learn to fight against new microbes that helps to strengthen immunity levels. In Ayurveda, diseases are broadly classified as Nija and Aganthu. Nija diseases are those which are caused by an imbalance that has originated within our own body and can be mostly prevented from occurring by understanding one’s natural tendencies. Aganthu is caused by an external factor, which may include various injuries, both physical and emotional in nature.
Weakened immunity in children often lead to regular cough, cold and other illnesses with changing seasons. With active schedule that include studies, playing, extracurricular tasks and other activities, parents should focus on proper nutrition and holistic wellness to strengthen their natural immune system. In Ayurveda, immunity building is dealt by balancing doshas in the body of the child to make it stronger to fight infections. Toxins or Ama that gets accumulated in the digestive system often weakens the immune system. Ayurveda recommends reducing Kapha inducing foods in the diet such as junk foods, artificially sweetened foods and processed foods. This can improve the child’s immunity significantly.
To strengthen their natural immunity, here are 5 recommended Ayurvedic foods and food groups that must be added to children’s diet:
1. Citric Fruits and Vegetables
Vegetables and fruits are the single most potent source of antioxidants for children. Encouraging them to eat more leafy greens and fresh fruits contributes to the immune defense by supporting various cellular functions of both the innate and adaptive immune system. Gooseberries, Guava, Lemon, Berries, Tomato and Carrots are some of the Vitamin-C rich fruits and vegetables.
Chia Seeds, Flax Seeds and Walnuts are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids that help boost the immune system by supporting the functions of immune cells.
3. Ginger, Tulsi and Honey
A timeless Ayurvedic home remedy that is made with ginger, Tulsi and honey boiled in hot water (also known as Kadha mix) is a magic concoction that builds natural immunity levels in children and adults.
Jaggery or Gur is rich in minerals like zinc and other antioxidants which help in boosting immunity. Eating jaggery increases haemoglobin in the body, important for a strong immune system. It also has anti-inflammatory properties and can be included in your baby’s diet.
Using spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, turmeric, and ginger in their foods helps in enhancing the Agni or digestive fire. They are high on nutritional value and immune stimulating for babies.
In addition to dietary patterns, eating fixed and at regular intervals should be encouraged. Immune-boosting foods in Ayurveda should lean towards pungent, astringent, and bitter flavours combined with modern foods to balance doshas. Children must be encouraged to engage in different forms of physical activities as it increases the blood circulation, balances their energy levels, and also improves the flow of nutrients.