If you were like many people in Auburn, WA, Covid-19 made you more aware of the potential for illness and the importance of boosting immunity. Many factors play a role in the effectiveness of your immune system, including good nutrition and a program of regular exercise. While many commentators focused on eating healthier, most didn’t elaborate on what that meant or how it made a difference.
Start by eliminating food that harms your immune system and replacing it with healthier options.
If you’re a junk food junkie to the exclusion of healthier options, you probably have more colds than most people. Food with added sugar can reduce immunity. Most highly processed food contains added sugar and few nutrients. The added sugar and other ingredients can increase inflammation, which can cause serious conditions, including cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s, and cancer. The lack of fiber and increased sugar reduces the population of beneficial bacteria in your gut, which is part of the body’s line of defense.
Eating healthy provides the nutrients necessary for good health.
Most people understand that whole food has more nutrients. Fruits and vegetables also provide phytonutrients. Phytonutrients protect the plant, but also may provide benefits for humans. There are more than 25,000. The phytonutrient carotenoids are found in orange, red, and yellow fruits. It boosts immune health. The flavonoid anthocyanin is the phytonutrient that makes blueberries blue and also boosts the immune system. Consuming fruit and vegetables in a rainbow of colors can ensure you have a wide selection of phytonutrients.
Whole foods, like lean meat, fruit, and vegetables, provide macronutrients and micronutrients.
Having a healthy balance of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats also boosts immune health. So does having food containing a wide range of micronutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Vitamins that boost immune health include C, D, E, and A. Red and green bell pepper, broccoli, and citrus fruit all have higher amounts of vitamin C. If you need more vitamin E, eat almonds, peanuts, and sunflower seeds. Vitamin A is in carrots, sweet potatoes, and other red, orange, or yellow fruits and veggies. You can get vitamin D from fatty fish, eggs, and sunshine! You also need minerals. Zinc is important and found in legumes, red meat, and shellfish.
- Eat food high in soluble fiber to feed your gut microbiome. The microbes in the gut play an important role in immunity. Full-fat yogurt with no added sugar, sauerkraut, and kimchi are probiotic and beneficial for your microbiome.
- Folate is important for your immune system. You can find it in beans, leafy greens, avocados, and lentils. Some food is fortified with folate, like enriched rice, pasta, and bread.
- If you want to keep the flu at bay, eat elderberries. One study found that the anthocyanins in elderberries worked as well as Tamiflu when it came to fighting both the flu and H1N1 virus—swine flu.
- Selenium and iron are important for a functioning immune system. Iron from animal sources is the easiest for the body to use. Red meat, chicken, and shellfish contain iron and selenium. Brazil nuts also are high in selenium.
For more information, contact us today at Targeted Nutrition Technologies