How to boost your family's immunity — naturally!

Sweet potato says: Last year, Laura Keogh's daughter was constantly sick. This year, with the help of superfoods and some exercise, she's not going down without a fight

Laura Keogh & Scarlett. Photo by Maya Visnyei

Last winter, it felt like I ran an infirmary rather than a home. My daughter had the flu (twice), chicken pox, strep throat and all the usual, random fevers, colds, aches and pains a four-year-old experiences. Everyone told me she was building her immunity and I knew it was true, but when your best friend is a bottle of kiddie pain reliever, you have to wonder what you can do to ward off illness.

As any parent, I can lay the guilt on thick: Did I not wash her hands enough? Why did I have to take her to that cesspool of a bowling alley? But the bottom line is kids get sick and, this year, I’m not going down without a fight. I’ll be feeding my family’s immunity so that everybody is in the best possible position to tackle whatever germ the bowling alley can dish out.

Foods rich in carotenoids, omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins C and E all rev up the body’s immune system. In addition, exercise increases immune function. But if my daughter still insists on putting her fingers in her mouth as a way to wash them (Scarlett, if you can read this, stop doing that, please!), then I’ll be waiting with the craft glue and pompoms. And the pain reliever too. ~Laura

Power up with superfoods!

Eat your way to a strong immune system by incorporating these nutrients into your family’s daily diet:

Carotenoids: Carrots, tomatoes, kale and sweet potato

Omega-3s: Salmon, tuna, mackerel, and flaxseed oil

Vitamin C: Citrus fruits, sweet red pepper, strawberries and broccoli

Vitamin E: Sunflower seeds, Swiss chard, papaya, spinach and almonds

Recommended recipe

Boost your family’s immunity in one bowl with this Kale, Carrot and Feta Super Toss!