Foods That Boost the Immune System in Children
How It Works
- The immune systems is composes of cells, proteins, tissues and organs that work as a defense system. Two types of leukocytes or white-blood cells, phagocytes and lymphocytes, work together, searching for infectious organisms and destroying them. Phagocytes are cells that eat invading organisms, and lymphocytes are cells that help the body remember previous invaders to help guard against future invasions.
Leukocytes are manufactured throughout the body, primarily in the lymphoid organs---spleen, bone marrow and thymus. Lymph nodes, clumps of lymphoid tissue, store leukocytes. Lymphatic vessels carry leukocytes through blood vessels on their protective missions. Foods that boost the immune system in children provide nutrients that maintain the body's defense mechanism.
- Citrus fruits are filled with the antioxidant vitamin C. Antioxidants boost immunity and promote the healing process in the human body. Children enjoy citrus fruit such as oranges, tangerines and clementines because these fruits are sweeter than grapefruits or lemons. Enjoy these fruits with breakfast or as healthy snacks and desserts.
- Strawberries contain vitamins A and C and selenium, antioxidants that protect the body from free radicals and infections. Free radicals enter the body from exposure to the sun, tobacco and environmental toxins, causing cell damage. According to the University of Illinois Extension, eight strawberries contain 140 percent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C for children, and one cup or strawberries are only 55 calories. Children can enjoy this immune-boosting food with oatmeal, cold cereal and low-fat yogurt or in a bowl sprinkled with a little sugar.
- Broccoli contains vitamin C and beta carotene, immune-boosting antioxidants. The University of Illinois Extension reports that the phytochemicals in broccoli contain cancer-fighting properties and reduce risks of heart disease. Include broccoli in your children's diet at least three times a week, either steamed or as part of a raw salad. The fiber in this food promotes a healthy digestive system.
- The beta carotene in carrots converts to vitamin A in the human body. The antioxidant protects the body's immune system, fighting future occurrences of lung cancer, strokes and heart disease. Purchase baby carrots in small bags for quick snacks for your children.
- Green tea contains antioxidants and polyphenols that boost the immune system and protects the body from cancer and heart disease. Brew iced tea and chill in the refrigerator for quick cold drinks for your children to drink on hot days or with meals.