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Sore Throats


Star Foods for sore throats: apricot, barley, blackcurrant, bok choi, broccoli, brown rice, carrot, chicken, garlic, kale, lemon, lettuce, lime, mango, millet, onion, orange, papaya, quinoa, red pepper, squash, sweet potato, turkey, watercress

Sore throats are among the most common of childhood complaints. The symptoms are a raw, scratchy or burning sensation at the back of the throat that feels worse when swallowing. In childhood, sore throats are most often caused by viral infections such as the common cold.

However, some sore throats are caused by bacterial infection, as in the case of streptococcus, often referred to as “strep throat”. This is more common in children over three years of age and there are distinct differences between the symptoms of strep throat and those of a viral sore throat. Strep throat can come on very fast; one minute your child will be fine and the next they will have a very sore throat that may be accompanied by a headache, vomiting and a fever of up to 40°C (104°F). A viral sore throat usually appears gradually and is not necessarily accompanied by a fever. With strep throat, the tonsils will look swollen and red with white blotches on them and your child will look and feel really unwell.

Sore throats can also be caused by environmental factors such as dust, smoke and fumes. Persistent sore throats can be a symptom of another childhood disease or condition such as flu, chicken pox, measles, oral thrush, tonsillitis, glandular fever or chronic fatigue syndrome.

Tonsillitis is an acute sore throat, which is caused by the inflammation of the tonsils that sit on the left and right side of your child's throat. It can be either viral or bacterial and is more common in childhood than adulthood. Symptoms are similar to those of the sore throat but are far more acute and are often accompanied by a fever. Some children get recurrent tonsillitis and in rare cases this may lead to a tonsillectomy (an operation to remove the tonsils). This used to be a routine operation that was recommended to many children, along with the removal of the adenoids. Today, however, doctors realise the importance of the tonsils for the proper functioning of the immune system. Tonsils are important lymphoid tissue. This means that they contain white blood cells that help to fight a throat infection or an allergic reaction. Tonsils are now never removed unless absolutely necessary.

Medicinal foods for sore throats
A child with a sore throat, whether from a viral or bacterial infection, is unlikely to want to eat very much, partly because of the physical discomfort caused by swallowing. Offer plenty of water and fresh diluted fruit juices to support the lymphatic system and help ease her discomfort. If the child has a fever, adequate fluid intake is essential to prevent dehydration. Choose fruits and fruit juices rich in vitamin C, which has antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Blackcurrants and citrus fruits are excellent sources of vitamin C. For an extra boost, blackcurrants also provide a good supply of anthocyanins, phytonutrients that help reduce the inflammation associated with sore throats and have antioxidant powers 20 times stronger than vitamin C and 50 times the strength of vitamin E. Antioxidants help the immune system to combat free radicals, the cell-altering, disease-causing atoms that the body is fighting constantly.

Foods rich in beta-carotene are also advisable to help soothe a sore throat. Beta-carotene has similar antioxidant and membrane-healing qualities to vitamin C and can be found in all brightly coloured fruits and vegetables. If your child is not very hungry, all of these can be juiced or added to soups. Garlic is a wonderful food for sore throats as it is antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal. Add it to soups, juices and dressings, or offer it as a syrup.

During the acute phase of a sore throat, avoid dairy products, which tend to increase mucus production. Mucus is a breeding-ground for bacteria and any excess will leave your child feeling blocked up. Also reduce her intake of sugar and refined foods as these will suppress immune activity and may prolong the illness.

As your child's sore throat improves, encourage her to eat meals rich in wholegrains, lean meat, fish and plenty of fruits and vegetables. This will supply all the nutrients needed for the immune system to function efficiently.

If your child has to take antibiotics, wait until the course has finished and then offer live natural yoghurt every day for a month to replace the friendly bacteria in the gut that has been eliminated by the antibiotics. For children with dairy allergy, you can buy dairy-free probiotic powders from health food shops which can be added to drinks or dairy-free yoghurts.


Extracted from Immunity Foods for Healthy Kids by Lucy Burney, text © 2004, published by Duncan Baird Publishers, London.


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