Cold and flu season can hit big and little noses alike. But you don’t have to succumb to every bug that comes your family’s way: in addition to plenty of sleep, regular hand washing, and eating a well balanced diet, here are 6 flu-fighting habits to help minimize your risk of having unwanted germs slow your family down this winter.
Hydration. Your little one’s immune system works best when it’s well hydrated both inside and out. However, when your child has a fever that may be accompanied by vomiting or diarrhea leading to fluid loss hydration needs increase. According to the Institute of Medicine, healthy children between ages 1 and 3 need about 1.3 liters of water a day. Offer your toddler plenty of fluids throughout the day: fresh fruits, 100% fruit juice, broth based soups, coconut water and herbal teas also count towards that total. In the winter, you may also want to consider a humidifier, or at least turning down the thermostat: dry artificial indoor heat can lead to drier nasal passages, making it easier for bacteria and viruses to grab a foothold.
Antioxidant Vitamins A, and C. These vitamins play a fundamental role in supporting a strong and healthy immune system. If your child is no longer getting their nutrition solely from breast milk or infant formula, be sure to regularly offer foods that provide these immune supporting vitamins to your tot. Vitamin C is naturally found in fresh citrus fruit, including citrus juice, and broccoli, kiwi, strawberries and sweet peppers or you may like Earth's Best Organic® Simply Freeze Dried Snacks. It is recommended that children ages 1-3 get 15 milligrams of Vitamin C each day. Earth's Best Organic® Simply Corn & Edamame Freeze Dried Veggies provides 10% Daily Value of Antioxidant Vitamin C per 15g bag. Earth's Best Organic® Strawberry Banana & Apple Freeze Dried Fruits provides 20% Daily Value of Antioxidant Vitamin C per 15g bag.
Plant sources of Vitamin A are found in the form of beta carotene, that rich, deep orange pigment in darkly colored fruits and vegetables such as apricots, mangos, carrots, sweet potatoes and cantaloupe. Earth's Best Organic® Carrots, Earth's Best Organic® Sweet Potatoes, and Earth's Best Organic® Sweet Potato & Apricot are also rich in Vitamin A. Children ages 1-3 should aim for 300 micrograms of Vitamin A each day1.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant, fat soluble vitamin found in many nuts, oils and seeds including almonds, sunflower seeds, olive oil, wheat germ avocado, leafy vegetables and fortified cereals such as Earth's Best Organic® Infant Cereals. It is recommended that children ages 1-3 get 6 milligrams of Vitamin E each day.
The Earth’s Best® brand offers a wide array of products that provide little ones with the Vitamins A, C and E they need:
Probiotics. In the last decade research around gut health and its relationship to overall human health has expanded dramatically. The newest stars of gut health are the beneficial microorganisms that reside in a healthy gut - a community of “good bugs” that play an important role in helping the human host absorb nutrients, synthesize certain vitamins, reduce unhealthy bacteria as part of the gastrointestinal microflora, and maintain the body’s immune response given that the majority of one’s immune system is located in the digestive tract.
Probiotics are live microorganisms in food that are similar to those found in the gut, which may positively affect your little one’s balance of good bugs in their digestive tract. Although more studies are underway, current research suggests that probiotics may provide a benefit in helping restore the natural balance of gut flora in immuno-compromised individuals2. More research is needed to understand the importance of probiotics on the digestive and immune systems of healthy individuals.
Look for probiotic-rich foods at the grocery store such as organic yogurt, kefir, buttermilk, and aged cheeses such as cheddar or parmesan (these are also good sources of calcium and Vitamin D). Non-dairy fermentedfoods including sauerkraut, kimchi and miso can provide additional source of these “good bugs” in your child’s diet.
Vitamin D: Vitamin D is not just a bone building powerhouse, it also plays an important role in a healthy immune system. Often called “the sunshine vitamin”, because of our ability to make Vitamin D from just a few minutes of sunlight exposure on our skin, some people don’t receive enough sunshine daily to synthesize Vitamin D during the darker winter months of cold and flu season. Remember that sunscreen should be used during summer months to prevent sunburn and reduce risk of cancer. Children ages 1-3 need 600 IUs of Vitamin D each day. Natural sources of Vitamin D include cold water fish such as salmon or sardines, as well as chunk light tuna fish, but fortified foods such as milk, yogurt, cereal or 100% orange juice can help your little one meet their needs.
1 Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamins A, C and E for children and adults.
2 Br J Nutr. 2014 Jul 14; 112(1): 41–54.
National Institutes of Health, National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: Oral Probiotics, an Introduction. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/probiotics/introduction.htm