Given the current scenario of COVID-19 infections, the need to strengthen the immune system of babies and children has become even more important than before.
However, even in normal course of things, one of the most frequently asked questions by moms in doctor's offices is how do I strengthen my baby's defenses?
The doctor often responds, "By eating properly." This response can often leave some parents unsatisfied and not completely convinced for it can seem that “eating well” is not “powerful” enough to achieve a healthy immune system. However, in reality, it is everything1.
When your doctor says that it is necessary to "eat well", it does not refer to the quantity, but to the specific nutrients that a little one's diet needs, which, of course are present in the foods that you can feed your child in daily life.
To fulfill all its functions, and to be able to grow and mature adequately, your baby's body needs the whole range of nutrients that you may already know: proteins (composed of amino acids), carbohydrates (also called sugars, which are divided into simple and complex), vitamins, minerals, fats (there are various classes), prebiotics and probiotics.
All of these nutrients are essential and none of them should be missing from your baby's diet. If you are breastfeeding, rest easy: your milk contains all these elements in the quantity and proportion that your little one requires. Breast milk is the best for babies.
If your little one has progressed to eating foods other than breast milk, it is imperative that his diet should provide him with all the necessary nutrients, not only for strengthening his immune system, but also for nourishing the rest of his body.
Of the nutrients mentioned above, some fatty acids and probiotics boost or strengthen the immune system, (Note: that does not mean that other nutrients are less important).
Among the fatty acids, DHA is important for the immune system2. This is an extremely important ingredient for various physiological processes. It is well known that DHA contributes to brain maturation, good vision function and the correct functioning of the immune system. Therefore, your baby's nutrition must contain adequate levels of DHA.
Then there are prebiotics. Any component that favors the proliferation of microorganisms good for the human body is called "prebiotic". Most of these microorganisms are found in the digestive system, which plays an essential role in the functioning of the immune system.
Did you know that Prebiotics not only help with good digestion (essential), but they also support your little one's immunity to resist infections.
With this simple information that we have just given you, ask your doctor again about the specific foods that you can give your baby to increase his consumption of DHA and prebiotics in the correct amounts.
In addition to giving your baby the right foods to help boost his immunity, do remember to practice preventive hygiene measures to avoid the spread of COVID-19.
If you are interested in knowing more about the myths and realities of COVID-19, follow this link: https://www.covid-19facts.com/
1. Nova E., Montero A., et al., Grupo de Inmunonutrición. La estrecha relación entre la nutrición y el sistema inmunitario. Dpto. Metabolismo y Nutrición. Instituto del Frío. Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas. Madrid. Consultado el 19 de marzo de 2020 en: https://seom.org/seomcms/images/stories/recursos/infopublico/publicacion...
2. Zapata González F. Modulación del sistema inmune por el ácido docosahexaenoico: efecto sobre la célula dendrítica. Departamento de bioquímica y biología molecular, Facultad de biología, Universitat de Barcelona, abril de 2005. Consultado el 19 de marzo de 2020 en: http://diposit.ub.edu/dspace/bitstream/2445/36143/1/TESIS_FZAPATA.pdf