It is that time of the year when the common cold season is in full swing … which also often means more sick days.
Tea4Kidz partner dietician, Mbali Mapholi, shares some nutrition-based advice to keep the little ones healthy and at school this winter.
“Getting nutrition right at this time of year can play a key role in reducing those sick days. There are simple ways to boost a child’s immunity that doesn’t necessarily involve costly supplements. Nutritious food and drinks contain a range of different vitamins and nutrients that are key to supporting the body’s natural immunity. We should always start with what we are putting into our body from a food and beverage point of view when we want to boost our body’s natural defences against colds and flu.”
Mbali’s tips to boost children’s immunity:
- Feed them the rainbow
Fruit and vegetables are packed with nutrients – vitamins, minerals, dietary fibre, and more. Fruits, especially seasonal fruits such as citrus, are packed with vitamin C, which plays a key role in boosting immunity. Orange-fleshed vegetables such as butternut, gem squash, pumpkin, and sweet potato are packed with vitamin A and carotenoids which have been shown to benefit immunity. Feeding children a variety of vegetables and fruits with different nutrients not only boosts their immunity but also plays an important role in mental health and lifting their mood.
Easy and delicious Rooibos butternut soup
You’ll need: 500ml water; 3 Tea4Kidz Original Rooibos teabags; 500 ml chicken or vegetable stock (Dissolve 1 stock cube in 500ml hot water); 1kg or 1 whole butternut, medium (peeled & deseeded); 1 Tbsp cooking oil; 1 finely sliced, medium onion; 1 tsp salt; 1 tsp ground black pepper; 125ml cream (optional)
- Boil water and add to teabags to brew for at least 5 minutes.
- Sautee onions with oil until cooked, then add butternut, Rooibos tea, stock and seasoning. Boil until soft and the liquid is reduced, then set aside and blend.
- Add cream and serve with warm bread of choice.
Dietitian tip: Add avocado to a warm slice of bread with a sprinkle of your seasoning of choice for that extra nourishment to serve with this soup
- Keep children hydrated
Drinking water in winter can be difficult because it’s cold, which means a risk of dehydration and a dip in mood, exacerbating the symptoms of common colds and flu. Here are some tips for keeping children hydrated this winter:
- Add Rooibos tea to a child’s daily winter diet, like the Laager Rooibos Tea4Kidz range which is caffeine-free, naturally sugar-free, available in a variety of flavours, and with two flavours that are vitamin C-enriched – perfect for boosting immunity. Rooibos can be served with or without sugar, honey or milk.
- Offer plenty of vegetables and fruit as these contain water which is great for hydration. Vegetable soup can be a great addition to a child’s hydration this winter.
- Try infused water by adding fresh fruits, vegetable slices and herbs to room temperature water as a way to entice children to drink.
- Get enough sleep
During sleep, the immune system releases proteins called cytokines, some of which help promote sleep. Certain cytokines need to increase when a person has an infection or inflammation or is under stress. Sleep deprivation may decrease the production of these protective cytokines. In addition, infection-fighting antibodies and cells are reduced during periods when children don’t get enough sleep. Some advice for encouraging sleep includes:
- Using Rooibos tea as a sleep antidote for children, with or without milk. A bonus is that the Laager Rooibos Tea4kidz Apple & Berry flavours and Peach & Apricot flavours are enriched with vitamin C to help support the child’s immunity.
- Ensuring the child is comfortable and that their bedroom, pyjamas and bedding are at the right temperature to reduce fussiness and restlessness during sleep time.
- Taking a warm bath before bedtime can encourage a better night’s sleep for children.