With all of this corona virus and flu virus fears going around, we have to know how to keep our immune systems strong and healthy! Following these guidelines (along with keeping proper hygiene and washing your hands the proper way of course!) can help protect you from many harmful viruses and bacteria, and also help speed up your recovery should you catch one!
- Make sure to get in all the immune-supporting nutrients! In particular, these are Vitamins A, C and D along with zinc and omega 3 fats! All of these help with either the production and/or activity of certain types of white blood cells essential to the immune system or help fight inflammation to balance the immune system’s response. Vitamin A is needed to maintain the mucus membranes that line our respiratory tract and digestive tract which serve as the first line of defense against harmful pathogens
VITAMIN A-RICH FOODS: Liver, cod liver oil, salmon, tuna, dairy. Our body can also produce vitamin A from carotenoids found in plant-foods: sweet potatoes, pumpkin,spinach, kale, carrots, red bell peppers, cantaloupe, lettuce, broccoli, etc.
Vitamin C Rich Foods: Strawberries, guava, pineapple,oranges, kiwi, bell peppers, tomatoes,cantaloupe, lemons. Vitamin C is shown to reduce the lengths of colds.
Vitamin D-rich Foods: fatty fish like salmon, egg yolks, but its not as abundant. Taking a daily supplement to make sure you’re getting enough especially in the winter would be the best.
Zinc: Beef, lamb, oysters, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, oats, cashews, chicken
Omega 3 fats: Salmon Sardines Walnuts chia seeds Flaxseeds
- Spices and herbs like ginger, garlic, onions, turmeric and oregano are all great immune-boosters. They have anti-viral/anti-bacterial properties along with being anti-inflammatory! Increase these more in your soups, stews, salads, bean dishes, roasted veggies, etc. Maybe making a turmeric aka golden milk latte every night before bed, or having a chutney daily with raw garlic. Aside from these, including coconut oil, bone broth and shiitake mushrooms also have properties that boost your immunity in their own respective right.
- Probiotics! Did you know that 70% of your immune system is in your gut! A healthy gut = a healthy immune system. Probiotics are the good bacteria in your intestines that fight off all the bad disease-causing bacteria! Our gut is like an ecosystem and the more diversity in beneficial bacteria you have, the more health benefits you will get. Take a probiotic supplement or you can add fermented foods in your diet which contain plenty of probiotics. Examples of fermented foods are yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha.
- Sleep and Stress Management –higher levels of stress hormones in your body suppress immune function and can harm your body’s ability to fight viruses. In terms of sleep, sleep HEALS. Lack of sleep makes us more vulnerable to viruses and bacteria. Recovery time is also prolonged from sickness if you’re not getting enough sleep.
- Reducing SUGAR, excess dairy, and processed grain products. These either create excess inflammation in the body, don’t offer significant nutrition and end up not leaving space in your stomach for nutritious foods! So, things like white bread, bagels, donuts, cupcakes, ice cream, pizza, heavy creamy pastas, AVOID and replace these with more fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and beans. This will strengthen your immunity.
- Also, well-studied is that people who exercise regularly seem to have a reduced chance of getting sick. Exercise boosts the activity of your immune system!
So, now putting this altogether! Maybe you add a serving of those vitamin A and C rich fruits/veggies to your meal. Ex: have some cut up oranges and cantaloupe with your breakfast or have some roasted sweet potatoes and broccoli as a side for lunch!
You can also prep snacks high in zinc and omega 3 fats: make a trail mix type baggie with some pumpkin seeds, cashews, walnuts, and dried fruit!
You can add an immune boosting soup to your menu 1-2x a week with some chicken, bone broth, garlic, ginger, mushrooms etc. For breakfast, you can do an egg, smoked salmon, avocado sandwich! Or do a bowl/jar of oats with some chia seeds and top with some pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, strawberries and drizzle of honey!
Of course, aside from these dietary additions, keeping a healthier lifestyle by prioritizing sleep, using healthy stress management tools like deep breathing, meditating, journaling, positive affirmations etc, making exercise part of your lifestyle and reducing your reliance on sugar and processed carb-loaded foods will benefit your health in many many ways. Again, take it one positive choice at a time.
If you still catch those bugs, know that this is part of life and focus on recovery!