Eat Right: How to ensure a healthy gut for your children during the monsoons

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Let’s continue from where we left off in our previous column. While the last column was about the possible gut-related problems that could bother children in the monsoon, we have come up with the solution this time.

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The monsoon offers the most favourable conditions for the growth of microbes and pathogens that may enter children’s gut through multiple channels and may make them sick. So, here are the two most effective strategies to help your children avoid the risk of gut-related problems during the monsoon:

  • Preventing exposure to pathogens
  • Strengthening their immunity

Preventing exposure to pathogens

Rainwater may be called the purest form of water but the pollutants that it picks up in the air, water, and even mosquitoes and house flies, tend to expose your children to the risk of pathogens.

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Check out the ways that can help your children ward off the risk of pathogen-generated diseases during monsoon:

* Make sure that they don’t come in contact with stagnant water deposited outside or inside the homes
* Make sure your child isn’t exposed to infected person/s
* Try and ensure that your children consumes either RO or boiled water
* Make sure you wash your fruits and vegetables thoroughly before consuming them
* Teach them to cover their mouth and nose while sneezing and coughing
* Personal and environmental hygiene is the key to avoiding pathogen-related infection, therefore teach your child to maintain proper hand hygiene because that’s how they invade your gut
* Most importantly, avoid eating outside as chances are high that outside food is infested by pathogens

Strengthening the immune system of your child

The immune system protects the body against invading foreign organisms such as bacteria, viruses, and protozoa, thereby strengthening immunity and minimising the risk of diseases caused by these agents.

Food plays a pivotal role in boosting immunity and staying protected against potential monsoon-related risks such as allergic reactions, water-borne diseases, and other troubles that rains bring with them.

Here are some immunity-boosting foods that can help your children have a healthy gut during the monsoon:

Give your children foods rich in Vitamin C

Nature knows what you need in monsoons, that’s why it offers ample foods rich in Vitamin C. These foods increase the activity of killer cells called phagocytes that help destroy infectious agents.

Vitamin C also improves the cellular immune response while enhancing the production of lymphocytes that help boost immunity. Foods rich in Vitamin C include jamun, cherries, all citrus fruits like lemons and oranges, green and red bell peppers, broccoli, leafy greens, tomato, etc.

Add Omega- 3 fatty acids to children’s diet

The Omega-3 fatty acids are known to boost brain and heart health. But at the same time, they can also help strengthen the immune response of your children. They work by improving the action of white blood cells that attack and kill pathogens like bacteria/viruses. The omega-3 fatty acid may also help reduce inflammation and help your children recover faster after they catch an infection.

Fatty fish, chia seeds, walnuts, flaxseed, and plant oils are some of the rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids.

Give your child the sunshine of Vitamin D

Vitamin D is another essential micronutrient that enhances the action of your immune system by regulating the adaptive and innate immune response. A child deficient in vitamin D is more vulnerable to microbial infection. Add dairy products and egg yolks to your children’s diet to protect them against gut-related problems in the monsoon. Also, make them sit in the morning sun for a few minutes to activate Vitamin D in their body obtained from the diet.

Give the power of antioxidants

The antioxidants work by destroying the free radicals produced in the body as a result of daily processes like eating, stress, and exposure to the toxins present environment, and stress. Further, antioxidants play a significant role in maintaining optimum gut health. They control inflammation and help protect the cells lining the gut and promote the growth of healthy bacteria.

The good thing is there are certain seasonal foods available during monsoon that are rich in antioxidants and help in improving the gut health of your children. The common ones are fruits, including jamun, plum, peaches, cherries, pear, pomegranate, and fresh dates. In addition, veggies like bottle gourd, tinda, bitter gourd, parwal, tomato, lady finger, and brinjals also contain ample antioxidants.

The monsoon season warrants special attention and care when it comes to the health of your children, especially gut health. Make sure you take precautionary measures and ensure proper nutrition for your children to boost their immunity and avoid any unpleasant experiences during the season.

(Manjari Chandra is a consultant, functional nutrition and nutritional medicine, Manjari Wellness, New Delhi. Her column appears every fortnight)

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