Winter is here and our body’s immune system is the first line of defence against infections. Our body produces
antibodies to kill invading pathogens and keep us healthy. But our body cannot fight infections effectively if
our immune system is not strong enough. Concern regarding immunity has become more important and
relevant after the COVID-19 pandemic shook the world. This outbreak has taught us the importance
of healthy lifestyle and strong immunity more than ever.
Our kids are precious, and we want to give them the best of everything. But with so much
media exposure, they are more inclined towards processed and junk food. This makes it all
the more important that we develop good healthy food habits right from the beginning. We
will be going through some of the foods that must be incorporated in your kids diet to boost
Curd (dahi) : Dahi must be included in some form in your kids diet every day. It has
probiotics, commonly known as healthy bacteria. It promotes gut health, digestion, and
general well-being. It provides a plenty of many necessary nutrients like calcium, vitamin D,
and potassium. Always try to give your kids fresh dahi without sugar or preservatives for the
best results. In winters dahi should not be served from refrigerator and should not be much
sour. You can add some fruits and nuts to them as per your liking. Its ok to occasionally give
Fruits : Fruits are storehouse of essential vitamins and minerals. The best foods for boosting
immunity are citrus fruits. These fruits are a good source of vitamin C and include sweet
limes, oranges and lemons. Other fruits that should not be missed are guava, jamun,
pineapple, pomegranate, grapes and seasonal berries. Amla or Indian gooseberry is an
excellent source of vitamin C and iron and must be incorporated in diet. You can give it in the
form of murabba, dried candy form, pickle, chutney or juice blended with other vegetables as
it can be pretty sour for throat. In fact, fill your kids’ plates with all bright coloured seasonal
Vegetables : Green vegetables must be made an important part of kid’s daily diet. spinach,
methi, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, peas, beans, moringa, ginger are some of the vegetables
for increasing a child's immunity. Several important elements, including vitamins A, C, and K,
iron, magnesium, calcium, and potassium, are in abundance in these vegetables. If your kids
are reluctant in eating these vegetables, try making a puree of mix vegetables and add to the
foods of their choice. You an even prepare a dough with the puree and make roti or parantha
with that. Ginger can be incorporated in regular food or prepared like a tea
Nuts and dry fruits : Nuts like almonds, walnuts, figs, cashews, pistachios, peanuts, coconut,
raisins and seeds like pumpkin, sesame and flaxseeds are full of antioxidants and good
immune boosters. Nuts can be consumed whole or after soaked. In winters, nuts are a
fantastic source of both energy and warmth. Most of the kids love nuts so these should be
consumed every day to keep them healthy all season long. You can also add these to some of
their favourite recipes of halwa, kheer, laddoos and chikkis. You can even prepare your own
trail mixes with the roasted nuts, seeds and dry fruits that your kids like.
Paneer/tofu : Paneer or tofu are a great source of protein and calcium for kids. These are
mostly loved by kids. Incorporate in various recipes as per your kid’s choice like parantha,
rolls, matar paneer, paneer lababdar, paneer tikka etc. For a vegan choice tofu can be used in
place of paneer
Herbs and spices : Some Indian herbs and spices can boost immunity and prepare the body
Turmeric (haldi) : It contains curcumin, which has anti-inflammatory properties and
fights infections. One teaspoon of turmeric powder mixed with warm milk twice a day
can build immunity to fight against infections.
Basil (tulsi) Basil has been used for ages to relieve the symptoms of cold, cough and
sore throat. It is known to increase the “T” cells in our body that naturally helps to
fight illnesses. Basil with honey is effective against sore throat and cough.
Cinnamon (dalchini): Cinnamon can have therapeutic effects on our body including
antimicrobial, antifungal, and immunomodulatory effects. A small amount of
cinnamon in a kid’s diet can help in building immunity.
Saffron: Saffron is also a very beneficial spice for building immunity. Incorporate in
milk, kheer, halwa or make saffron tea for a great aroma with health.
Some other herbs like giloy and ashwagandha are also great immunity boosters. These can be
introduced in small quantities to older kids in winters. In case of any pre-existing health
problem in kids consume only after consulting a doctor.
Incorporate some millets like ragi, jowar, bajra to your kids diet as they are excellent in
nutrition and support immunity.
For a non-vegetarian diet, you may include eggs and fish in kid’s meal. Eggs area great source
of protein and vitamin A for kids and help them keep warm in winters. Fish like Salmon and
tuna also a good source of protein and Omega 3 fatty acids which may enhance immune
Kids love snacking and markets today are flooded with processed snacks like never before.
These foods are full of preservatives, stabilizers, artificial colours and flavours many of which
are harmful for kids’ health. Its important for both parents and kids to educate themselves
regarding harmful effects of these chemicals. These foods provide negligible nutrition and
feed our kids empty calories laced with chemicals. Promote healthy food habits since
childhood and do not get carried away by fancy packaging and promotions advertisements.