Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Five foods to fight viruses

There isn't one single food that has been proven in warding off all viruses, but the combination of these foods can help give your immune system a fighting chance.

Five foods to fight viruses


In the last several weeks, it’s become quite evident that viral season is upon us.  With the turn in the weather comes a rise in both respiratory and gastrointestinal (stomach) viruses.   Though it would be impossible to eliminate all viruses coming your child’s way, frequent hand washing, getting enough sleep, and proper nutrition is essential in helping their immune system resist a cold or stomach virus. 

There isn’t one single food that has been proven in warding off all viruses, but the combination of these foods below can help in giving your child’s immune system a fighting chance.

Five Foods to Fight Viruses

  1. Low-fat Yogurt: Much of our body’s immune protection comes from our intestinal tract.  Yogurt is a natural source of probiotics which helps to promote healthy intestinal barrier to resist harmful bacteria.  Though the exact connection is not exactly understood, several studies have found that children who ate yogurt daily had a reduction in respiratory viruses.
  2. Sweet Potatoes: These delicious dinner additions are a rich source of Vitamin A.  It has long been known that Vitamin A deficiency in adults and children has been associated with decreased immune function.  Vitamin A is also a key component in maintaining healthy skin, which is our body’s biggest defense organ. 
  3. Lean Beef: Sometimes I think beef gets a bad rap.  Beef is rich in zinc and protein, both of which are important for healthy cells.  Zinc deficiency has been associated with poor immunologic function, and just 2 ounces of lean beef will provide 50 percent of a 4-8 year old child’s needs.  Vegetarian?  Fortified cereals that contain at least 3 mg of zinc per serving are a good choice.
  4. Kiwi:  If I told you that this little green fruit packs more Vitamin C than an orange, would you believe me?  Well, you should.  Tasty, nutrient-dense, and easy on the budget during the winter season, Kiwi is really a “superfood” from many angles.  While eating enough vitamin C won’t prevent a cold, some research suggests that adequate intake can shorten the duration and severity of symptoms.   
  5. Water:  As simple as can be, water helps the body make sure that all systems are working as efficiently as possible, and helps to eliminate waste as needed.  Tack it on as another reason to avoid soda, sports drinks, and juice; nothing is a better hydrator for your children than water. 

Remember, a little of these nutrients go a long way in your child, and too much of any nutrient can be dangerous.  If you are concerned that your child is not receiving adequate vitamins and minerals, talk to their health care provider to discuss a multivitamin.  

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Registered Dietitian at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
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The Healthy Kids blog is your window into the latest news, research and advice around children's health. Learn more about our growing list of contributors here.

If you have questions about your child's health, ask them here.

Anna Nguyen Healthy Kids blog Editor
Sarah Levin Allen, Ph.D., CBIS Assistant Professor of Psychology at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
Stephen Aronoff, M.D., M.B.A. Chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Temple University Hospital
Peter Bidey, D.O. Medical Director of Family Medicine at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
Christopher C. Chang, MD, PhD, MBA, FAAAAI, FACAAI Associate Professor of Medicine in division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Clinical Immunology at UC Davis
Katherine K. Dahlsgaard, Ph.D. Lead Psychologist of The Anxiety Behaviors Clinic at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
Gary A. Emmett, M.D., F.A.A.P Director of Hospital Pediatrics at TJU Hospital & Pediatrics Professor at Thomas Jefferson Univ.
Magee DeFelice, M.D. Chief of Allergy and Immunology at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children
Hazel Guinto-Ocampo, M.D. Chief of Pediatric Emergency Services at Nemours duPont Pediatrics/Bryn Mawr Hospital
Rima Himelstein, M.D. Adolescent Medicine Specialist at Crozer-Keystone Health System
Jessica Kendorski, PhD, NCSP, BCBA-D Associate Professor in School Psychology/Applied Behavior Analysis at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
Anita Kulick President & CEO, Educating Communities for Parenting
Janet Rosenzweig, MS, PhD, MPA VP for Programs & Research for Prevent Child Abuse America
Beth Wallace Smith, R.D. Registered Dietitian at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
Emiliano Tatar, M.D. Pediatrician at Einstein Healthcare Network Roxborough Plaza
Jeanette Trella, Pharm.D Managing Director at The Poison Control Center at CHOP
W. Douglas Tynan, Ph.D., ABPP Director of Integrated Health Care for American Psychological Association
Flaura Koplin Winston, M.D., Ph.D. Scientific Director of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Center for Injury Research and Prevention
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