Washing our hands for 20 seconds is VERY important. There are also a few things we can do to keep our immune system running at its best.
Get enough sleep – women need 7-9 hours/night. Lack of sleep has been shown to weaken your immune system’s defenses against viruses like the common cold and flu – so getting your winks in is important to keeping your immune system running at its best.
Water – yes it is also important in keeping your immune system at its best! Adding an extra two cups of water plus your daily minimum can fuel regeneration of immune-fighting lymphatic cells and get your body feeling stronger.
Probiotics are the “good” microorganisms (bacteria) in your gut. They are your first line of defense for what you digest. Foods such as kimchi, kombucha, kefir, sauerkraut and yogurt (with probiotic strains) are probiotic rich. These foods help re-populate the good bacteria in your gut!
Eating enough protein is important as protein also boosts immunity by regulating existing cells and generating new ones!
- Poultry, pork, lean beef, lamb, fish, salmon, eggs, ricotta, cheese and dairy products are all good sources of protein and also good sources of Vitamin B6
- Nuts and seeds are also sources of protein and provide antioxidants to help ward off disease.
Your immune system needs to be fed a colorful plate – color is important! Think about dark green, red, orange and purple with the following foods:
Vitamin A helps our body regulate our immune system and can protect against infection.
- Foods rich in Vitamin A include broccoli, red bell peppers, sweet potatoes and carrots.
- Spinach – is high in Vitamin A & C, folate, magnesium, iron and fiber that both boost immune system and also provides the nutrients necessary for cell division & DNA repair.
Vitamin C helps protect from infection and stimulate antibodies to fight off disease. It acts as an antioxidant which helps fight free radicals and boosts the immune system:
- Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits like grapefruit, oranges, and clementines but also in strawberries, kiwi and some vegetables – red bell peppers, spinach and sweet potatoes!
- Papaya – is loaded with vitamin C and also has digestive enzyme – papain, which has anti-inflammatory effects.
- Broccoli – lots of vitamin C – I cup the same as 1 orange plus all the other good things like beta-carotene, potassium, magnesium, zinc and iron and Vitamin B 1,2,3,6 great for the immune system and glutathione – the master antioxidant in our body.
- Watermelon is an immune boosting fruit that most people don’t recognize for its benefits. It contains potassium, Vitamin A, C, B6 which all help improve the immune function.
- Also remember it is better to eat the whole fruit (for the fiber) and not just the juice!
Vitamin E is also an antioxidant that helps neutralize free radicals in our body and has been shown to help protect the body from some diseases. Vitamin E is also powerful antioxidant and is critical for a healthy immune system.
- Good sources of Vitamin E are almonds, hazelnuts, peanut butter, green vegetables, especially spinach and broccoli.
- Almonds – high in Vitamin E which is key to a healthy immune system. 46 whole almonds provides about the recommended daily amount of Vitamin E.
- Sunflower seeds – many great nutrients and also Vitamin B-6 and E – both powerful antioxidants
- Wheat germ – rich in B vitamins, vitamin E and zinc. It is easy to add to recipes to get some extra vitamins
When ensuring you are eating plenty of these foods high in Vitamin A, C and E, you will also be ingesting the prebiotic fibers from these fruits & veggies that support the probiotics that live in your gut!
Zinc – is a mineral which is essential for production of certain immune cells and good health. Your body doesn’t store Zinc so it is important to eat enough each day. It also helps heal wounds.
- Foods known for Zinc are red meats (pork, beef & lamb)
- Oysters and other shell fish – crab, shrimp and mussels.
- Baked beans, cashews, chick peas
Omega-3 Fatty acids – an essential fatty acid which suppresses inflammation to keep our immune system in check.
- Oily fish – tuna, salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel and trout
Purple – Anthocyanidins are a special type of antioxidant that are essential in protecting vital organs and cells besides supporting your immune system. They also give foods their purple color.
- Red cabbage, blueberries, blackberries, pomegranate, plums, cranberries, cherries and strawberries are all rich in anthocyanidins.
Tea – especially green tea – is full of polyphenols and flavonoids, antioxidants that boost the immune system. BTW – you can use tea as stock for soups! The great thing about green tea is it is packed with the powerful antioxidant EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate)! In black tea much of the EGCG is destroyed in the fermentation process. Green tea does not go thru the fermentation process.
Mushrooms are high in selenium and B vitamins such as riboflavin and niacin that are necessary for the immune system to work at its best. But they are also high in polysaccharides that also boost the immune system.
Spice it up!!! There are many herbs and spices that help your immune system:
- Garlic cloves – has antioxidants, antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal properties.
- Turmeric – has good anti-inflammatory properties
- Ginger – antioxidant compounds that have anti-inflammatory and immune boosting assets.
- Cayenne pepper
Other things to help keep your immune system at its best:
- Stress – try to keep calm – stress raises havoc on your immune system, it wears it down and increases your cortisol level which in turn turns off cells in your immune system. Something simple such as breathing techniques can really help.
- Keep up your exercise – if you don’t feel comfortable going to the gym – grab an online workout. There are many to choose from – I love the YogaBurn Trim Core Challenge* – 15 minutes and you’re done!!!
- If you smoke – try to cut back a little. Smoking is known to increase your susceptibility to infections like pneumonia and influenza.
To ensure you have plenty of the important vitamins, minerals and other nutrients for our immune system have every meal be filled with color!
Also create balance in what you eat. Your immune system needs some carbs – so now is not the time to jump on the no or very low carb craze!
Now is a good time to minimize foods that are pro-inflammatory such as white flour, sugar, processed foods and polyunsaturated oils. These tend to lower immunity.
* We receive a portion of the revenue of this great product.