Different diet helps child with viruses

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Although coughs, fevers, and colds are common in young children, some children seem very susceptible to them. Pediatrician Ellen van der Gaag conducted research and concluded that nutrition plays an important role.

Pediatrician Van der Gaag was due to receive a Ph.D. this month from the University of Twente for her research. However, the promotion has been postponed due to the coronavirus. However, that delay does not detract from the importance of the results of her investigation. 

Vegetables and beef

As early as 2012, Van der Gaag conducted research into young children who are sick more often than average. Then she found out that 16 percent of those children barely ate any vegetables. The beef was rarely on the menu for 28 percent of these children. She also discovered that the growing child’s body needs pure unprocessed products and fats. 

Less fever, less cough, less sniffling…

In her new research, Van der Gaag shows that green vegetables, whole milk, butter, and beef have a positive effect on the immune system of sick children aged 1-4 years. This concerns quantities in accordance with the guidelines of the Nutrition Center. On the website of the University of Twente, Van der Gaag says that children who follow the nutritional advice have less fever, use fewer antibiotics, cough and sniff less, see a doctor less often and are less tired. ‘The nutritional advice has no side effects; the children do not gain weight and the cholesterol profile does not change unfavorably either. The nutritional advice seems to be a simple and safe way to reduce many common health problems in children,’ says the pediatrician. 

From 15 days sick to 5 days sick

The children that Van der Gaag researched and followed were sick almost 15 days a month – that is, almost half of the year. For 95 percent of these children, there was no medically demonstrable explanation for all that being sick. The children followed Van der Gaag’s nutritional advice for 6 months. After that, it turned out that the children without a medically explainable abnormality were sick for less than 5 days a month. So a huge improvement. 

Simple rules 

The diet that Van der Gaag used for the research has four rules, she told current affairs program EenVandaag:
1. Eat green vegetables at least five times a week, and the greener the better. Green vegetables contain many nutrients, minerals and vitamins. In addition, the chloroplasts – to which these vegetables owe their green color – have an anti-inflammatory effect;
2. Eating beef in any form three times a week;
3. Whole milk products instead of the skimmed, semi-skimmed and sweetened varieties;
4. Butter instead of low-fat margarine.

Older children and adults

Older children also followed Van der Gaag’s diet. And it also seems to them that green vegetables, beef, whole milk products, and butter have a positive effect on the immune system. Van der Gaag has not investigated the effects for adults. She does state that it is already known from literature research that foods such as kiwi, elderberry syrup, fish oil, pre-and probiotics, and garlic can help with respiratory infections.

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