Here’s how a Healthy Immune System supports Resilience, According to Science
Teaching your child to be resilient is only possible when your child is fit and healthy. Dr Tay Chee Pin, a Consultant Paediatrician at Pantai Hospital Klang, offers his advice on how to strengthen your child’s immune system.
Teaching your child to be resilient is only achievable when their fitness and health are at optimum conditions. By serving the right and adequate nutrition, your child’s immunity will be strengthened allowing them to explore the world to build their Resilience. Recently we had the privilege of speaking to Dr Tay Chee Pin, a pediatrician consultant at Pantai Hospital Klang about child immunity and how it plays a role in raising a Resilient child.
Health and immunity
Young children, whose immune systems are only beginning to mature, are at risk from viral and bacterial attacks. Parents can help protect their children from illness by first and foremost providing excellent nutrition, such as adequate pre- and probiotics. On top of this foundation, include good hygiene practices and comprehensive vaccination for an additional layer of defence.
Research has also shown that spending time outdoors will help boost the immune system, and even enhance cardiovascular, respiratory, musculoskeletal and mental health systems1. We’re so blessed to be in a country like Malaysia, where there are numerous opportunities to organise weekend trips to farms, petting zoos, indoor parks and outdoor jungle treks. If you’re looking for weekend activity ideas, check out Resilience Location Map for unexplored attractions.
But to enjoy these adventures, children must first have a robust immune system to fight off infections and sickness. Children with a high risk of falling ill can’t even be exposed to the world, let alone learn important life lessons from it. If parents want to build resilience in children, the first step must be to secure their immunity.
How does the body's immune system work?
The immune system is the body’s defence mechanism. Without it, the body falls victim to viruses and bacteria. The body’s immune system consists of a network of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to combat illness while protecting the body. However, it is our white blood cells that does the bulk of the work by recognising and destroying viruses, bacteria, as well as other foreign organisms in our body.
While there are numerous types of white blood cells, both phagocytes and lymphocytes play important roles while working hand in hand. Phagocytes cells can eat up harmful bacteria and problem-causing organisms while Lymphocytes are able to build antibodies that will remember previous infections.
Tips for strengthening your child’s immunity
There are many ways that parents can strengthen their child’s immunity. Here are some of the suggestions from Dr. Tay:
- Healthy emotional wellbeing
- Healthy and active lifestyle which includes 10 - 14 hours of sleep depending on the age of your child
- Other nutritional supplements and vitamins
As noted, being in the outdoors is like giving the body a host of multivitamins that can help boost immunity. Some researchers have hypothesised being outdoors puts the body and mind into ‘rest and digest’ mode, instead of ‘flight or fight’ mode where every other system, including the immune system is shutting down in response to stress. In ‘rest and digest’, your child’s body begins to relax and focus on growing, cell reproduction and building the immune system.
This is why being in the outdoors not only teaches your child about resilience in a cognitive way, but it allows the body to naturally strengthen its immunology for growth and progress.
Resilience is also part of the human mind. A sound mind is supported by a healthy body and a healthy body is a result of healthy food. You are what you eat and according to an article from the Institute of Food Technologists forum, immunity boosting food is rapidly growing in popularity 2. Immune boosting foods for kids include yogurt, almonds, oily fish like salmon, oats and barley and a high-quality formula milk with pre- and probiotic that promotes immunity.
Aside from food, encourage your child to adopt an active lifestyle. Inspire them to be active mentally and physically by introducing problem-solving puzzles and fun gyms. Even a short family outing away from the city will provide a change in environment and some much-needed fresh air. And you don’t even have to spend hours scouring the Internet for new places to visit. AptaGro™ has already compiled an extensive list of locations, categorised by the five pillars of Resilience. Simply Google the Resilience Location Map and you’ll find exciting locations like Gabai Falls (Adaptability), Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary (Daringness), Funtopia (Perseverance), Kidzania (Resourcefulness) and Tadom Base (Self-Reliance) and many more.
With the right nutrition and lifestyle, you can boost your child’s immune system and this, in turn, will ensure plenty of opportunities for them to learn to become resilient.
1 Ming Kuo (2015, August 25). How Might Contact With Nature Promote Human Health? Promising Mechanisms And A Possible Central Pathway. Retrieved from https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01093/full
2 Sloan, Elizabath A. (2019, October 1). Global Migration: Emerging Opportunities In Food And Drink. Rertrieved from https://www.ift.org/news-and-publications/food-technology-magazine/issues/2019/october/features/global-migration-emerging-opportunities-in-food-and-drink