top of page

Kids Need Nutrition for Immunity and Daily Wellness

August 23, 2021 | Dr. Linda J. Dobberstein, DC, Board Certified in Clinical Nutrition

The past year of shut down and pandemic have been stressful and a challenge for all ages, including our kids. We expect kids to be healthy as they don’t have years of wear-and-tear as adults do. However, dietary challenges and shortfalls affect kids of all ages. It is vital to recognize and support children’s nutritional needs for health and immune vitality.

Malnutrition in America

During shelter-in-place orders last year it was found that adults commonly gained more weight due to less activity and greater intake of comfort food and/or simple sugar. These concerns also affected children with limited activity and consumption of comfort foods and junk food.

Too often, children choose calorie-rich processed foods which fill them up but fail to truly support nutritional adequacy. Foods fortified with synthetic vitamins filled with added sugars, food colorings, and manufactured food substances do not provide quality nourishment for health. Some children may have had limited access to foods without support of school lunch programs creating another scenario of inadequate intake of nutrient-dense foods. Lack of nutrient-dense foods is of concern.

I recently wrote about a remarkable study showing the effect of a processed diet vs. whole foods on generational health. Generations of Americans have subsisted on the “Standard American Diet” that consists of processed foods with high calorie, low nutrient foods. This diet sets forth generations of kids and adults with inflammation and aging.

The CDC now recommends that children 10 years of age or younger be checked for heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. These conditions are normally seen in older adults and are associated with inflammation.

Kids are following the same path, way too early in life. Elementary age children are now prescribed powerful medications like Metformin as prevention and treatment for elevated blood sugar and obesity. These medications can readily contribute to nutrient deficits with drug-nutrient depletions that interfere with nutrient status, health, and immune vitality.

Does it strike you that the same “adult” health concerns that kids are facing in their tweens and teens are also risk factors for COVID-19 and numerous other disorders? We must help our children now more than ever embark on a healthy lifestyle and diet. America is malnourished – more often in terms of calorie rich, nutrient poor.

Malnutrition creates substantial stress on health in growing bodies and affects immune tolerance. We must teach our children about healthy food choices and help them restore their health. Our country is 35th on the list of healthiest countries. You and your children can and must choose to make good choices to raise our country’s health status!

Some Key Players

A nutrient-rich whole foods diet with physical activity is the foundation to health and immune vitality for growing bodies and minds. Help your children choose a wide variety of fresh foods consisting of animal proteins, beans, legumes, whole grains, seeds and nuts, fruits, and vegetables.

Numerous factors such as taste and texture, managing food sensitivities, and school lunch offerings affect food choices. Help your child to get at least 75% of their diet in whole foods rather than the Standard American Diet. Even with the best diet and good intentions, children (infants to 18 years) may lack key nutrients like iron, zinc, vitamin D, vitamin A, and other nutrients.