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Keep Your Immune System Healthy
Although you may not be able to prevent a cold or flu this season, a strong immune system can be the first line of defense. The immune system protects against infection as well as other medical issues including allergies, arthritis and cancer. There is no single pill to boost your immunity; instead a healthy eating pattern and lifestyle behaviors are key to a healthy immune system.
Immune Boosting Nutrients
Good nutrition is essential for the immune system to work well. A healthy eating pattern with a variety of food and colorful produce each day will ensure a balance of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients, which are vital to the immune system. Phytonutrients have disease fighting properties, while antioxidants reduce oxidation in the body which is linked to a weakened immune system.
Try to include the key foods, herbs and beverages below for an extra immune boost.
- Beta Carotene – found in fruits and vegetables such as sweet potatoes, carrots, mango, tomatoes, broccoli, kale & spinach.
- Vitamin C – rich foods include citrus fruits, strawberries, cantaloupe, kiwi, papaya, tomatoes, broccoli and bell peppers.
- Vitamin D – found mainly in fatty fish such as salmon; other good sources are egg yolks and D-fortified dairy products.
- Zinc – lean meat, poultry and seafood, as well as legumes, whole grain products, wheat germ and nuts.
- Probiotics – mainly in cultured dairy products such as yogurt or kefir, and fermented vegetables such as kimchi.
- Protein – both animal and plant based sources including dairy, eggs, lean meat, seafood, legumes, lentils, nuts and seeds.
- Herbs – herbs such as garlic & rosemary, along with onions may enhance immunity.
- Green Tea – helps to decrease viruses & microorganisms linked to pneumonia.
Lifestyle: Focus on Balance
Lifestyle can affect your immune system. Healthy habits contribute to strong immunity.
Adequate Sleep – aim for at least 7 hours per night.
Be Active – exercise releases hormones that promote a sense of relaxation and well-being. Aim for a 30-minute walk daily.
Minimize Sugar – too much sugar works against the immune system. This effect can last for several hours after having a sugary drink or dessert.
Manage Stress – constant stress releases cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones weaken the immune system.
Limit Alcohol – no more than two drinks for men and one for women daily. Alcohol reduces resistance to infection.
Social Engagement – a good social network boosts immunity.
Have a Sense of Humor – laughing curbs stress hormones and strengthens white blood cells.
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