Winter is coming and I am are here to let you know all the ways you can BOOST your immune system just by walking down the aisles of your supermarket. The flu and common colds are among us all winter long, but did you know that there are many things you can do at home to prepare?
What you eat plays a major role in how you feel and how your body functions as a whole. You have the power to potentially beat off infections if you prepare your body and immune system to do so. By eating the right foods, immune boosting properties will be provided. As a result, your immune system will be ready to battle flu season and defeat those watery eyes, coughs, and sniffles.
Here are 7 ways to boost your immune system:
- Eat a balanced diet rich in these micronutrients:
- Vitamin A – can be found in carrots, spinach, kale, peas and mango. It can also be fortified in milk or milk products.
- Vitamin B6 – is typically associated with meat, poultry or fish intake but it is also found in vegetables. Bell peppers, spinach, baked potatoes, broccoli and asparagus provide high amounts as well. It can also be found in nuts and seeds, whole grains, beans and legumes.
- Vitamin E – found in green, leafy vegetables, such as spinach, eggs, and nuts and seeds.
- Iron – found in meat, poultry or fish is the most absorbable form. It can also be found in spinach and fortified whole grain cereals.
- Folate – found in strawberries, spinach, peas, asparagus, and legumes.
- Get plenty of vitamin C:
Fresh fruits and vegetables are your best sources of vitamin C. Although scientific proof is still in the works as to whether vitamin C can prevent colds, studies have shown increasing vitamin C can reduce the length of time cold symptoms will last as well as reduce the severity of the symptoms.
Great food sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits, green peppers, broccoli, tomatoes, and dark green vegetables.
- Spice it up with herbs and spices to boost your immune system:
- Cinnamon has been shown to reduce inflammation, have antioxidant properties and fight bacteria. Add cinnamon to your oatmeal, Greek yogurt, coffee or tea.
- Ginger is used as a therapeutic agent to treat inflammation, muscle pain, cancer and asthma. It is also often used to treat symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections. Chop up fresh ginger and add it to stir fries and vegetable dishes.
- Basil is known to reduce inflammation, swelling and is a rich source of antioxidants. Add basil to sandwiches, salads, burgers, tomato sauce and pasta dishes.
- Drink plenty of water:
Staying hydrated is one of the best things you can do for your health. Ensure that you are drinking at least eight (8 oz.) glasses of water each day. Start your day with 16 oz. before breakfast, have another 16 oz. with lunch and dinner, and one glass mid-morning and mid-afternoon. By keeping your body hydrated, it will be able to work optimally and keep you healthy. For an extra boost, add a slice of lemon, which will provide extra vitamin C.
- Say hello probiotics:
Did you know that about 80% of your immune system is located in your gut? Keeping a healthy gut is extremely important to have a strong immune system. Probiotics are good bacteria that can be found in fermented foods. When you read “live active cultures” on your yogurt label, it’s these probiotics that are being referred to. Some researchers believe these “good bacteria” boost your immune system to fight disease. Greek yogurt is the food most commonly associated with probiotics.
- Get 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night:
Sleep deprivation suppresses immune system function!! The body rejuvenates and strengthens while you sleep. By giving your body the time it needs to rest and heal, it will be able to function as needed throughout the day. All of your immune cells will be working at their full potential and will be able to fight off the common cold. Try and get 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night, your body will thank you!
Exercising is not only a great way to get in shape, but it also increases your immune function, and can even improve your sleeping habits! If you do not have any health conditions that prevent you from exercising, lace up those sneakers and get moving!
There are others ways to keep your immune system strong. Washing your hands properly and frequently, not sharing drinks or utensils with other people, and dressing appropriately for the weather will also help you stay healthy this winter!
Your turn to take action: What will you do to boost your immune system before the winter months arrive?