Beat the bugs this year with good nutrition!
It’s that time of year again – where the sickness spreads faster than anything. Did you know that proper nutrition can help fight off sickness and disease? Your immune system actually depends on it. Balanced nutrition helps fight off not only the flu and common colds but also diseases and cancers. Read on to learn more about how you can properly fuel your immune system with these immune-essential nutrients.
Protein is very important when it comes to immunity. Did you know that antibodies are made up of proteins? If you needed another reason to make sure you are getting enough protein, did you also know that lean protein often includes the vitamins and minerals listed below that help boost immune function? Yes and yes. How much protein should you be eating? aim for 25% of your plate to be lean protein. Try out some plant proteins to help keep cholesterol intake low and amino acid intakes high. Learn more about protein benefits and sources in my post here.
Vitamin A is crucial for immune health in 2 major ways. First of all, it maintains the integrity of mucous cells in our body that help protect us from disease (think of the cells in your eyes, nose, GI tract, etc that help keep infections from entering the body). Vitamin A also important in antibody health and white blood cell health. Boost your intake of carrots, sweet potatoes, kale, spinach, and broccoli to increase the vitamin A in your body.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant – so we know it is definitely a fighter. Antioxidants are so amazing because they fight off free radicals that are in our environment, which we have no control over exposure. Vitamin C also helps build up the immune system by stimulating the formation of antibodies. Get your immune boost of Vitamin C by eating citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruits and also from strawberries, tomato juices or red bell peppers.
Another amazing antioxidant – Vitamin E helps to maintain the integrity of your mucous membranes as well. It works hard to neutralize free radicals and keep you healthy. Worried about getting enough Vitamin E? Start increasing your intake of the following: almonds, spinach, sweet potatoes, avocado, sunflower seeds, olive oil.
Probiotics and Prebiotics
This amazing duo works together for proper gut health – and when you have proper gut health, you can fight away unwanted sicknesses like GI bugs. Start putting prebiotics in your daily diet with things like garlic, bananas, onions, leeks or whole wheat foods. Probiotics (which USE the prebiotics as fuel) come from fermented dairy products to produce good gut bacteria for excellent gut health. Sources are yogurts and kefir products.
What about the other minerals? Zinc, B6, iron, and others are definitely important to immune health. Eating a balanced diet with fresh fruits and veggies will help you get proper intakes of these. But if you feel like you want to make sure your immune system is definitely not lacking, make sure to take a multivitamin daily.
Keeping immune system health via good nutrition is great, but remember, there are other factors that come into play. STRESS is one of them! Make sure you are exercising regularly and taking those needed breaks to reset your mind so you can be your best YOU. Meditation is a great way to ease the mind and start over. Make sure you are trying your best to get 7-8 hours of sleep per night and say BYE BYE to people/things that stress you out.
Stay healthy everyone!