Your child’s immune system is develops until age 7. After the age of 7 our immune system is set in how it reponds to the internal and external environment. The heart of your child’s innate immune system is in the digestive tract. Innate immune response is non-specific and acts as a barrier against microbial invaders. The digestive tract is lined with gut associated lymphoid tissue which regulates immunity and helps the body manage inflammation.
One of the first ways that children support immunity is through vaginal birth. The birthing process allows infants to pick up good bacteria on the way out during delivery. This very important innoculation of the digetive tract sets the stage for the health of the immune system. If your child was born via c-section or has had frequent antibiotics, there immune system is not as strong as it needs to be to fight off microbes and to regulate inflammation that contributes to eczema, asthma, allergies and down the road chronic disease like heart disease, cancer, diabetes and arthritis.
The immune system relies on healthy bacteria or probiotics in the digestive tract. These can be introduced through supplementation to support immune function at any stage of childhood. Other important factors that determine immune health are the status of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. These essential fatty acids support immune function and a deficiency puts the immune system at risk resulting in frequent infections as well as other symptoms like eczema, allergies and asthma. The immune system is integrally linked to the health of other part so the body and relies on healthy digestion to protect again microbial infections.
Children usually get sick more than adults because as the immune system meets new microbes, the body will react and create antibodies. This is called specific immunity. When your child enteres daycare or starts school and begins to get sick more frequently is it an important part of developping specific immunity to individual microbes.
Diet plays an important role in supporting immunity. A diet full of processed foods and sugar puts a child at risk for frequenty upper respiratory infections, ear infection, colds and flus. One way to evaluate if your child has a healthy immune system is to compare them to other kids. Is your child the first to get sick and the last to get better? A healthy diet can transform your child’s immune system providing elevated levels of crucial vitamins and minerals.
These are some important supplements that can help improve your child’s immune fucntion:
- Breastfeed for as long as possible – 1 drop of breastmilk contains 100, 000 white blood cells!
- Probiotics / good bacteria
- Essential Fatty Acids – omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acds
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Minimize refined sugar and processed foods