This is a Guest Blog contributed by Dr. Madhu Goel, Bariatric Physician, Centre for Metabolic Surgery, Nova Specialty Surgery.
The change can start with eliminating all the junk food.
Recent estimates suggest that at least 2.5 million children in India are suffering from extreme obesity. Consequences of obesity in children can range from potentially serious health problems to psychological and social issues. Besides increasing such children’s risk for serious ailments such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and hypertension, obesity can have a disastrous effect on their immune system. While a strong immune system provides a child with powerful natural defenses against disease, a child with a weakened immune system is vulnerable or more susceptible to colds, flu, and more serious illnesses.
Ways to boost immunity in children:
• Physical activity: By 2030, 18 percent of people in India will be considered physically inactive. Inactive children are likely to become inactive adults. Later in life, physical inactivity increases periods of ill-health and morbidity. Perhaps most dangerous of all, physically inactive parents pass along the same patterns to their children, says ‘Designed to Move’, a comprehensive physical activity agenda recently released. Decrease in or removal of this unhealthy behaviour could improve health substantially. Children who learn to love physical activity in all of its forms will grow up to be adults who are active. Motivate children to be active. Studies suggest that regular and moderate exercise boosts immune system function. Exercise increases the white blood cells ability to fight off infections.
• Healthy diet: Just as under nutrition is harmful for immunity, so is over nutrition and obesity. A healthy diet rich in immune-boosting foods can help body build infection-fighting white blood cells and repair injury to cells. A child is completely dependent on his or her parents when it comes to food selection. Therefore it is important for parents to inculcate healthy eating habits themselves. Ensure that your child takes a diet full of fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables rich in beta carotene and various green leafy vegetables are known to boost immunity of the body. Wholegrain foods and other foods rich in various vitamins and minerals are also very essential in your child’s diet. The change can start with eliminating all the junk food from the kitchen cabinets.
• Omega 3 fats: Omega 3 fats are valuable immune boosters and maintain the overall health of just about every organ of the body. Therefore children should be given Omega 3 fat rich food items such as sardines, salmon, flax seeds and walnuts.