With winter and the holidays almost here, this is a great time to think about protecting—even boosting—your immune system health.
While this is definitely the season to cherish the outdoors, it’s also important to remember that all that time spent outside and active will often result in fatigue and increased susceptibility to summertime colds and other illnesses.
The immune system is the body’s defense against infectious organisms and other invaders. Through a series of steps called the immune response, the immune system attacks organisms and substances that invade body systems and cause disease. The immune system is made up of a network of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to protect the body. One of the biggest factors that we all have control over that will help support our immune system is our DIET. Specifically nutrients in our diet in the right amounts that will help strengthen all of the ‘responses’ and reactions that allow our bodies to defend against immune system stress.
When most people hear about antioxidants and foods, they immediately think fruits & vegetables, which are essential for a healthy diet. Outside of these great choices though are many specialty superfoods, which many people or clients may not think of on their own. These specialty nutrient-packed foods can be key players when it comes to keeping your immune system strong and healthy because they provide an abundance of vitamins/minerals, specialty antioxidants, and importantly phytonutrients which are natural compounds found in all plant foods that help to promote health by serving as antioxidants.
Immune System-Boosting Foods
Including a variety of healthful and nutritionally dense foods in your meals is the basis of any good nutrition plan and antioxidant-rich foods such as these can help specifically boost the immune system to get your clients supercharged for the summer fun ahead:
Goji berry also called Chinese wolfberry grows predominantly in some parts of China and the Himalayan regions of Tibet and Nepal. This deep red berry is rich in vitamins A, B1, B2, C, E, B6, 18 essential amino acids, linoleic acid, beta-carotene, 21 trace minerals, germanium and selenium.
Wheat germ is a key source of fiber — a dietary essential that keeps your digestive system on track. It’s also packed with protein and vitamins, including vitamin E, and is a great source of choline and zinc, which also help boost immunity. Add wheat germ to your bread, muffin, and cookie recipes, or sprinkle it over yogurt and fresh fruit or your breakfast cereal.
One of your immune system’s key jobs is to guard the gastrointestinal tract and prevent germs, bacteria, and other pathogens from entering the bloodstream and making you sick. Yogurt is a great source of lactobacillus, a probiotic (or beneficial type of bacteria) that helps fight off GI tract invadors and also gives your immune system a boost. Choose the low-fat or fat-free kind to reap the benefits without extra saturated fat.
Greens such as kale, spinach, and Swiss chard are immune-boosting foods that contain high levels of vitamin C, which not only has high levels of antioxidants, it helps fight off infection and regenerate other antioxidants in the body, including vitamin E. They also contain folate, another immune booster. Sautée kale, spinach, or Swiss chard with garlic and olive oil, or use fresh spinach to make an nutrient-rich salad
When you’re thinking about a healthy diet, mushrooms may not be the first thing to come to mind, but they’re a major source of the immune system-boosting mineral, zinc. People who don’t have enough zinc in their diet tend to have fewer white blood cells to help fight off disease, which can lead to a reduced immune response. Start thinking of mushrooms as a great immune-boosting food
Ginger is a strong antioxidant, anti-microbial, a natural anti-biotic, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, helps ease the pain of a sore throat, decreases congestion, gets rid of chills and fever, promotes circulation, cleanses the blood, relieves indigestion and nausea, contains Vitamins A, C, E, B Complex, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Sodium, Iron, Zinc, Calcium, Beta-Carotene and Potassium.