One lesson parents have to learn the hard way is that their children are going to get hurt. No matter how much we do to keep them protected, children are going to be children.
Any child will experience falling down, nicking their skin without realising it, scraping their knee on the ground or any minor injury similar to that. Or maybe your child might have unknowingly eaten something that was contaminated.
Not only that, they are susceptible to all kinds of infections and catching germs as they grow up and explore the world.
These situations are all pretty inevitable.
The difference between a child with a strong immune system and a child with a weak immune system is how their body reacts to these little accidents.
The immune system is our body’s defense system, that kicks in to fight potential infections, to help heal the body and to prevent the body from getting attacked further.
You just need to know how to identify whether your child has a strong immune system or not, and how to further strengthen it, to keep these defenses up!
Does Your Child Have A Strong Immune System?
Everyone is born with an immune system. This is what is known as the innate immune system. Then, there is the adaptive immune system, which is acquired and learned through a person’s life.
While there is not much we can do to alter our innate immune system, there is much to be done with the adaptive immune system1.
The adaptive immune system is something that needs nurturing over time. There are many ways to strengthen a child’s immune system that parents need to start practicing from as young as possible to avoid a weakened immune system for a prolonged period.
Here are some of the telltale signs of a weakened immune system:
1. Your child falls sick often
Children who have weakened immune systems will find themselves falling sick very easily. If your child is constantly exposed to the outside world and is unable to fight the germs they bring back home, they tend to fall sick often.
2. Your child takes a long time to recover
This applies to illnesses like the common cold and if you also notice your child’s scrapes and cuts are taking a long time to heal, it is a sign that they have a weakened immune system.
3. Your child gets the same infections over and over again
Generally, when we are exposed to a sickness, the body builds up immunity towards that sickness. However, if your child is not able to build up immunity towards these on their own and falls sick again with the same illness, it might hint at a weak immune system.
4. Your child seems more fatigued than his or her peers
If your child constantly complains how tired they are, and you notice that he or she seems to have an overall low energy level, this is also an indicator that their immune system might not be very strong.
5. Your child’s lymph nodes swell up easily
Our lymph nodes are small glands in the neck, groin, armpits, and behind the knees. They are responsible for catching germs and filtering them out as part of our immune system2. When they are swollen, this is a sign that the body is fighting an infection. If this happens very frequently, your child’s immune system might be compromised.
6. C-section birth might play a role
To no fault of the mother’s, research has shown the immunity of children born via c-section might possibly be affected due to the lack of exposure to the bacteria that would occur during the standard birthing process3. If your child was delivered via c-section, his or her immunity might just need a little boost.
How To Strengthen Your Child’s Immune System
There are many ways you can help your child boost their immune system. There is no one size fits all solution to this, but parents should try to give their kids the best shot at building immunity by practicing as many good health habits such as these:
1. Get sufficient sleep
Sleep plays not only a crucial role in strengthening a child’s immune system, but also to ensure their development is not hindered. A child needs a minimum of 11 hours of sleep a night. In addition, if they require a day time nap, be sure to let them have it.
2. Keep them active
Of course, with all of that sleep, kids will also have a lot of energy to burn when they are awake! Use this opportunity to keep them active by exercising with them, taking them out to the park or playgrounds to burn off all of that excess energy.
This is a good time to instill healthy lifestyle habits that will stay with the child all of their life.
3. Have a balanced diet
This is one of the most important factors for maintaining a good immune system. They say you are what you eat. So, whatever is going into your child’s body is sure to play a role in their overall health and immunity.
It is vital that you provide them with a balanced diet and foods that meet their nutritional intake requirements.
Another important factor that plays a role in maintaining a good immune system is the addition of pre- and probiotics in a child’s intake.
Why Pre- and Probiotics Are So Important
Pre- and probiotics ensures the child’s gut health is well-taken care of by balancing the growth of beneficial bacteria. The inclusion of pre- and probiotics in your child’s diet will ultimately result in better digestive health and immune system.
What are prebiotics and what are probiotics?
These are two buzzwords that parents will often hear thrown around by other parents, by experts and doctors and nutritionists, too.
In simple terms, prebiotics are compounds that are found in food that will feed the good bacteria in our bodies. While probiotics, on the other hand, are live bacteria found in our food or supplements that provide our bodies with numerous health benefits.
So, one brings the good bacteria into our bodies, and the other feeds it.
Why do we need these two compounds in our bodies? Well, firstly, the good bacteria will help to protect us from harmful bacteria. And secondly, they act as little signals to our immune system to help regulate inflammation and infections4,5.
Now that we know the importance (and difference) between pre- and probiotics, how do we then get our children to consume them?
Prebiotics are often found in foods such as legumes, peas, beans and oats. Probiotics, on the other hand, are found in yogurt, kefir, tempeh or miso, for example. But it would be impossible to feed children these foods on a daily basis to ensure their nutritional needs are met.
That is why we often give them supplements. Parents, we all know, however that kids might resist taking supplements when you force feed it to them in pill form. So if there is a way we can feed our children both pre- and probiotics as conveniently as possible, why not try it, right?
The Malaysian Dietary Guidelines for Children and Adolescents (2013) has recommended 2 to 3 servings of milk and milk products every day for toddlers to meet their nutritional needs6. We can make sure our children get their pre- and probiotics through their daily milk intake. At the same time, we can be smart about it by killing two birds with one stone and ensuring their milk also contains the highest level of DHA, knowing how important that is for our children’s development.
AptaGro™ is formulated with a combination of ActiveDuoBio+™ and important nutrients that help support body and learning development. ActiveDuoBio+ is an internationally patented combination of Prebiotics GOS/lcFOS (9:1) and Probiotic B. Breve M-16V to boost the army of good bacteria in children’s body. AptaGro also contains the highest DHA level7, helping to meet international expert recommendation8.
Stay resilient with a strong body defense. Get a free sample here!
1 Boraschi, D. (2014). How Innate and Adaptive Immunity Work. Nanoparticles and the Immune System, 1–7. doi: 10.1016/b978-0-12-408085-0.00001-7
2 How Your Immune System Fights Infection. (2020). Retrieved from www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/immune-system-fight-infection
3 Altered microbiome after caesarean section impacts baby’s immune system. (2018, November 30). Retrieved May 12, 2020, from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/11/181130094328.htm
4 Yan, F., & Polk, D. B. (2011, October). Probiotics and immune health. Retrieved from www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4006993/
5 Vieira, Thomaz, A., Teixeira, Martins, M., Martins, & Santos, F. dos. (2013, November 26). The Role of Probiotics and Prebiotics in Inducing Gut Immunity. Retrieved from www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fimmu.2013.00445/full
6 National Coordinating Committee on Food and Nutrition Ministry of Health Malaysia (2013). Malaysian Dietary Guidelines for Children and Adolescents (Key Message 9)
7 Compared to other cow’s milk based growing up milk brands per 100g basis in the market as of Dec 2019. AptaGro contains 89.7mg/100g of DHA.
8 Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (2010). Fats and fatty acids in human nutrition: Report of an expert consultation. FAO Food and Nutrition Paper 91. Rome.