What’s on the menu tonight?
I think it’s safe to assume that we all want to take care of ourselves as much as possible, especially right now. But when it comes to our diet, many of us are reaching for self-soothing foods and indulging in lots of sweets, wine, chips, etc. more than usual.
I get it.
As we focus on following best practices to avoid contracting and spreading COVID-19, like staying home, hand washing, and practicing physical distancing, it’s also important to focus on keeping our bodies and minds as healthy and strong as possible.
There is a vast amount of evidence that nutrition and other lifestyle measures influence immune strength and susceptibility to disease.
That’s why I’m sharing this three-part series: “A Holistic Approach to Boosting Immunity” this month. Mindset, nutrition and diet, and lifestyle, all impact your wellness and immune function.
How does what you eat impact your immune function?
Poor nutrition can result in increased infections, slow healing from injury, illness, and infections, and it increases susceptibility to symptoms and complications from immune system dysfunction.
Feeding your body certain foods helps to keep your immune system strong, and a truly healthy immune system depends on a consistent, balanced mix of vitamins and minerals. That does not mean relying on supplements but rather committing to a regular diet of wholesome nutrient-dense foods.
Okay folks. Let’s get down to brass tacks with four immune-boosting nutritional tips to help you stay well!
1. Stay hydrated!
Hydration is foundational to your health. Water is the most important nutrient in the body! So be sure to drink water throughout the day. I recommend drinking half your body weight in ounces of water every day, but not exceeding 100 oz. I love to start my morning with a refreshing, detoxing, and hydrating boost of Vitamin C with warm lemon water.
2. Load up on nutrient-dense wholesome foods.
Studies have shown that foods rich in nutrients like beta-carotene, zinc, vitamins C, D and E can boost immune function.
Vitamins C and E are antioxidants that help to destroy free radicals and support the body’s natural immune response. * Vitamin C foods include red bell peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit), strawberries, tomatoes. * Vitamin E sources include nuts, seeds, avocado, leafy greens, olives, fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines.
Beta-carotene is a powerful antioxidant that can reduce inflammation and boost immune function by increasing disease-fighting cells in the body. * Excellent foods include sweet potatoes, carrots, squash, green leafy vegetables.
Vitamin D is a super-nutrient that has a myriad of vital functions including that it’s crucial for regulating several key components of our immune system, including formation of important antioxidants. * Where do you get Vitamin D? Sunlight! Plus food sources of Vitamin D such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, egg yolks (and eat the whites too)!
Zinc is a mineral that can help boost white blood cells, which defend against invaders. * The richest source of zinc is oysters, but other good sources are grass-fed red meat, organic pastured poultry, organ meats (especially liver), nuts and seeds, and legumes.
3. Boost gut health.
Gut health is VITAL for immune function as 70-80% of your immune system lies within your gut, your gastrointestinal tract. You may have “leaky gut." So consider adding gut-healing foods such as bone broth and probiotic foods including raw sauerkraut, kimchi, and kefir into your diet.
4. Limit/avoid processed & junk food
You know this to be true and while it’s tempting to eat crap, please be mindful that processed foods such as pre-packaged cakes, cookies, crackers, and chips, are not only low in nutrients, but they are high in preservatives, artificial ingredients, sugar, and salt that tax your immune system. This also includes sweetened and diet soda, bottled teas, juice, and alcohol.
Pro tip #1: Variety is the spice of life! It’s also the key to proper nutrition. Eating the same foods over and over, even if they are super healthy, does not provide the same nutritional benefits as rotating and eating a wide variety of wholesome foods. It’s all about Food Diversity, ya’ll! Check out, “Stuck in a Food Rut? How to Uplevel Your Life with Food Diversity”
Pro tip #2: When you can’t eat fresh, eat frozen. Sometimes you can’t get your hands on high-quality fresh produce so please keep in mind that frozen is just fine. Manufacturers freeze frozen fruits and veggies at “peak” ripeness, which means they have similar nutritional value as their fresh counterparts. Be sure to choose plain frozen fruits or vegetables with no added sugars or sodium.
Let's go a little deeper! Join me tomorrow, Wednesday, May 13 for my weekly Facebook Live Workshop.
What: How to Boost Your Immune System with Nutrition When: Wed. 5/13 at 1pm EST / 12pm CST / 10am PST Where: LIVE on my FB page, Alyssa at Wellness HQ.
P.S. I’m offering FREE Workshops on Facebook Live every Wednesday in May at 1pm EST. Next week’s topic on May 20: How to Boost Your Immune System through Lifestyle.
P.P.S. Catch the YouTube replay of part 1 in this series: “How to Boost Immunity through Mindset.”
May 12, 2020