Your commitment to health and wellness starts with a strong immune system. A healthy, balanced diet is a great way to start!
Did you know that your body absorbs and uses nutrients better when they come from whole food sources? This is why a diverse, balanced diet and minimally-processed foods are part of our natural health solutions. Let’s take a closer look how certain foods help boost your immunity.
Citrus & Greens: Vitamin C
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Year-round, but especially during cold and flu season, it’s important for your body to fight infection. A key player in doing so are white blood cells. Eat colorful fruits and veggies high in vitamin C like red peppers, oranges, tangerines, grapefruits, kiwifruit, strawberries, kale and broccoli to help your body with white blood cell production.
Root Vegetables & Greens: Beta-Carotene
Once in the body, beta-carotene converts into vitamin A, an anti-inflammatory vitamin that helps antibodies respond to toxins. Beta-carotene can be found in carrots, apricots, spinach, kale, sweet potato, cantaloupe and squash. Remember, vitamin A is fat-soluble, meaning that your body will absorb it well by eating healthy fats. Some healthy fats you might already have at home are olive oil or avocado.
Nuts, Seeds & Greens: Vitamin E
Your mother knew what she was talking about when she told you to eat your greens. Vitamin E functions as an antioxidant and plays a role in anti-inflammatory processes. You can find it in dark, leafy greens like broccoli and spinach, as well as in nuts and seeds.
Sunshine, Fish & Eggs: Vitamin D
An essential component of immune function, vitamin D helps regulate your body’s immune response and may reduce viral infections like COVID-19. Fish like salmon, canned tuna and trout have high amounts of vitamin D. If you don’t eat fish, you can get your daily dose from egg yolks, mushrooms and supplements. While you can’t consume sunshine, your body does synthesize vitamin D from sun exposure. Make it a goal to get 15 minutes of sunshine three times a week!
Shellfish, Poultry & Beans: Zinc
Your immune system cells rely on zinc to function properly because it helps boost white blood cells. Our bodies don’t create or store the mineral naturally, which is why we need zinc-rich foods in our diet. Add shellfish (crab, mussels, lobster and clams) and poultry to your weekly meal plans. Beans, nuts and seeds are also good sources of zinc.
Herbs and Spices
Not only do herbs and spices make food taste delicious, but they also boost your immunity and can be flavorful natural health solutions. Many of your common household spices are full of anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, black pepper, garlic, elderberry and cloves can boost the immune system. Incorporate these herbs and spices in your meals for a sneaky way to reduce the amount of salt in your diet.
Probiotics & Digestive Enzymes
Probiotics and digestive enzymes are both important for gut health and immunity, but they’re often thought of as the same thing. What’s the difference? Digestive enzymes are naturally produced in your body while probiotics are live microorganisms (think: the good bacteria) that live in your digestive tract.
You can get both digestive enzymes and probiotics from food. Digestive enzymes are found in raw foods like papaya and honey but take note: enzymes can be destroyed when heated, so eating these foods raw will bring your body the most benefit. Probiotic bacteria are found in yogurt and different kinds of fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut and kombucha. A healthy diet can provide enough digestive enzymes and probiotics, but you may need dietary supplements if you are treating a specific condition or symptom.