4 WAYS TO ENHANCE YOUR CHILD’S IMMUNITY WITH TCM


A Newborn’s Immunity

During the last 3 months of pregnancy, the mother passes antibodies to her unborn child through the placenta. Antibodies are specialised proteins which can attach to the surfaces of bacteria and viruses and destroy them. Therefore, the baby’s immunity is only short-term as the antibodies are given to the baby and the baby is still incapable of producing their own antibodies. In fact, this temporary immunity starts to decrease after the first few weeks or month after the baby’s birth. 

The mother can now choose to breastfeed her baby since the mother’s milk is well-known to be beneficial to newborns during the first few months of life. Mothers can prolong the passive immunity of the baby with the antibodies found in breast milk. This is in line with the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommendation of exclusively breastfeeding a baby in the first 6 months of life and up to 2 years and beyond, while complementing with foods.

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The Immune System in TCM

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), immunity depends on the strength of Zheng Qi (正气), present in your body. When your Zheng Qi is strong, your body is able to stave off infection and illnesses. However, a weakened Zheng Qi will result in the invasion of external pathogens and hence, disease occurs. However this is the case for normal adults. Young children have an immature immune system, especially in the lung, spleen and kidney systems. This explains why children are extremely susceptible to respiratory problems such as cough, flu, bronchitis and gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea, bloating and poor digestion. This is especially true for premature babies born before full term as their lungs may not be fully mature.


Enhance your Child’s Immune System with Chinese Medicine

Since a child’s immune response does not reach its full strength till at least 5 years old, how can you help to protect your child from the countless amount of bacteria and viruses he or she is exposed to daily?

While TCM believes our inherent constitution (先天) is determined by the child’s parents and at birth, we can supplement the acquired constitution (后天)with good nutrition during their growing up years. Healthy eating has many benefits which they will bring into adulthood. Other than helping the child maintain a healthy weight from young, it also prevents the onset of chronic illnesses. Healthy eating habits from young are also more likely to stay with the child if he or she learns them as a child.

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Good Nutrition for KIds

A child’s diet should consist of nutrient-dense foods encompassing a variety of protein, fruits, vegetables, grains and dairy. Meat is a great source of protein and iron, of which iron optimises brain development and function and boosts the immune system. Fish is another excellent source of protein which helps to support bone and muscle development. Fatty fish in particular, such as salmon, tuna and sardines, contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids which are essential to eye, brain and nerve development. Fruits and vegetables provide the best source of Vitamin C since our body is incapable of producing our own Vitamin C. This vitamin is a potent antioxidant which contributes to immune defense by supporting various cellular functions of our immune system. 

Parents should also choose foods which are easily digestible for their children, such as porridge, fruits and fish to strengthen the lung and spleen. Avoid heavy meals such as raw, cold, greasy and spicy foods.


Cultivate Healthy Sleep Habits in your Child

Growing children should also get adequate amounts of sleep for healthy growth and development. Studies have shown that people who do not get quality sleep or adequate amounts are more likely to fall ill after being exposed to virus. A special type of protein called cytokine which targets inflammation and infection is produced and released during sleep. Children of different ages will require different amounts of sleep time, with older children needing less sleep. In general, it is beneficial for young children to sleep at least 12 hours a day.

Outdoor play exposes your child to not only exercise, but also the “sunshine vitamin”, Vitamin D, which is crucial to activating immune responses.

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