Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Optimise your child’s immune system before the winter months

Written by 

Kids love to share germs, so you may ask, how do you keep them healthy and their immune systems on high alert? Regular hand washing, adequate rest and a healthy dose of activity is a good place to start, but to put up a good fight their immune systems may need more.

“Germs generally only lead to illness when the body is out of balance and immunity is weakened,” says PharmaChoice spokesperson, pharmacist, Liezl van Tonder.“Simply put, supplementing your child’s diet with additional natural nutrients play a crucial role in supporting the immune system and are needed as the basis for avoiding nasty flu bugs.”

Van Tonder says, “The fact is that schools are ‘danger zones’ for potentially infectious bacteria and viruses, causing more than 20-million school days lost due to the common cold.”

“When their immune systems are robust and the viral exposure is relatively limited, they shrug off any attacks,” she adds. “But when the viral contact is repeated and the flu is ‘going around’, or when their immune systems are compromised, they succumb, and get a cold or flu. Most parents will agree there’s nothing sadder than a child who is trapped indoors by the flu, or who’s sneezing through the days and nights.”

The common cold is the most prevalent and widespread illness known to man. Influenza, although generally not dangerous, can cause serious complications and even death, especially in the very young. Typically, it affects ten to twenty percent of the population each year, which leads to many lost school days. There can be little doubt that this highly contagious viral illness should rather be prevented. It is also worth noting that acute respiratory infections such as pneumonia are the primary cause of child deaths.

“We like to think our children have a nutrient rich diet but the truth is they are probably not getting their optimal requirement just from their daily food intake,” she adds. “Research shows that poor nutrition can weaken the ability of the immune system to fight off infections with this in mind the easiest way to boost their immune system is by giving them a supplement containing immune boosters like ViralChoice Junior.

Containing some of the most highly-rate ingredients provided by nature such us; Echinacea extract, green tea, rosehip, vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D and E, folic acid, Biotin, Pantothenic acid and Selenium, to help reduce the susceptibility to cold and flu infection, helping recovery and reducing the duration and severity of colds and flu.

She says that children are particularly vulnerable because of their continuous exposure to other kids and the physical nature of their interactions on the sports fields and playgrounds. Mothers end up feeling desperate as the little ones sniffle all the way through winter and sometimes become seriously sick.

“Although it is not always possible for our children to completely avoid getting sick during the throws of cold and flu season, it is possible to significantly reduce the number and severity of infections from which they suffer,” van Tonder adds.

4 preventative measures to help keep those bugs at bay and aid in building a stronger immune system:

1.   Make them germ aware: Teach them to wash their hands properly (20-seconds in warm soapy water) before and after eating, after using the bathroom, after touching animals and when they are in public spaces. A good idea is to send your child to school with a waterless hand sanitizer and show them how to apply it and when they should use it.

2.    Early to bed, early to rise: Children are always busy and fatigue increases their susceptiibility to illness, which means they are more likely to catch a cold if they do not get enough sleep. Although researchers aren’t exactly sure how sleep boosts the immune system, it is clear that getting adequate amounts (usually 8-10 hours for little one’s is essential part of health.

3.    Eating right: Reduce your children’s intake of ‘foods’ that are high in sugar, like soft drinks. Also reduce trans fats and any foods that are significantly processed and contain artificial colours, flavours, sweeteners and preservatives. Try to increase their consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables and the amount of whole foods in their diet. The best snacking foods are fresh fruits second to this is giving them dried fruits, nuts and seeds.

4.   Keep them active: Kids spend most of their day sitting at a desk in school. It is extremely detrimental if they then spend the rest of the day doing sedentary activities like homework, watching television or playing video games. It is your responsibility to make sure that they get a minimum of one hour (preferably two) of moderate physical activity per day. Playing sports is great, but not all kids are interested in sports or enjoy competitive activities. So get outside with them, kick a ball or have their friends over.

“Remember that the journey to good health begins with the right choice so ensure your child’s body is getting the essential building blocks they need for healthy immune function,” concludes van Tonder.

For more information visit:

Join the conversation on or on Twitter: @PharmaChoiceZA

Published in Health and Medicine