6 Foods That Can Damage Your Child's Immunity

Do you know that there is a connection between eating junk food and your immunity? Eating junk food lowers your immunity. If you want to stay healthy, here is the list of foods you must avoid.

By Swati Bhushan

6 Foods That Can Damage Your Child's Immunity

Rahul Khanna, a fourteen-year-old teen, loves to eat fast food. Every other day, he visits the nearest fast food outlet and orders his favourites – burgers and pizzas with a large glass of soda. This has been his routine for the past four years. Of late, Rahul is falling sick frequently. A slight change in weather and he is down with a fever. Somedays, he has stomach upset with vomiting. He feels drained out most of the time.

Rahul's condition is not an exception. Those with poor eating habits often complain about falling sick frequently. Regularly eating processed foods has weakened Rahul's immunity. Our immune system reacts differently when we eat junk and processed food. It creates an inflammation to provide protection to our tissues and cells. Chronic inflammation then hinders our ability to fight infections.

Keep the gut healthy by avoiding the following foods:

  1. Junk food: French fries, samosas, vadas, etc. have little or no nutritional value, and is loaded with fats, refined flour, sugars and sodium. Nutritious alternatives can be planned by using a variety of vegetables, whole grains, pulses, fruits, and spices; lowering the amount of fat in the preparations and making it nutrient dense is important. Switch to healthy unsaturated fats like sesame oil, olive oil among others. Consume saturated fats like butter and ghee, in moderation.
  2. Sodas: Sodas provide empty calories with no nutritional benefits. If you take too much of sugar, the immune system gets suppressed for some time. During this time your body becomes vulnerable to infection and with frequent intake; your child’s immune system weakens. Moreover, phosphoric acid present in soda leaches important minerals like calcium and magnesium from the body. Milk and curd and their preparations like buttermilk, fruit milkshakes and smoothies without added sugars are healthy alternatives to soft drinks as they are packed with protein, calcium and vitamin B and are gut-friendly too.
  3. Red meat: Red meat is high in saturated fats (bad fats) which are linked to increased levels of inflammation in the body. Better alternatives to red meat are chicken, fish, and eggs in moderation.
  4. Processed foods: Excessive consumption of processed food that contains harmful chemicals, gradually weakens the immune system. Parents need to act responsibly and provide healthier alternatives to their children. Foods like dalia (Lapsi), oats, quinoa, ragi etc. can lower the frequency of illness and improve their overall health.
  5. Refined grains: White bread, pasta, etc. are prepared with refined flour (maida), which lack important nutrients like vitamin B and fibre. During processing, all the fibre is removed, leaving only starch and fewer nutrients. It also causes weight gain and constipation.
  6. Sugars: Sugar can temporarily weaken the immune system. Sometimes, it is used with different names on food labels like dextrose, maltose, fructose, lactose or corn syrup. But these are all various forms of sugar. Canned fruit juices too have added sugars in some form, along with additives. It is best to opt for real fruits.

It is important that your child consumes foods rich in fermentable dietary fibres like oats, barley, fruits, vegetables, daals and pulses.

Is your child a junk food addict who loves to eat burgers and pizzas? Junk food can seem appealing for many reasons such as taste, convenience, and price. However, this has a negative impact on health as the following article explains.

The author is Chief Clinical Nutritionist, Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi – A Fortis Network Hospital 

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