Boost your immune system this fall
Now is an important time to strengthen our immune systems as we move further into fall and toward winter. This process doesn’t happen overnight; it requires lifestyle changes and consistency. Our bodies are built with strong defenses, but we can improve (or hinder) its ability to do its job.
Studies show that various micronutrient deficiencies alter immune response. Eating a variety of different fruits and vegetables is one way to protect against these deficiencies.
· Add a side salad to your meal
· Add finely chopped sautéed vegetables to your marinara sauce
· Swap fresh fruit instead of sugary desserts
· Try vegetable soup as a nourishing appetizer
· If there’s a vegetable you enjoy opt for a double portion
· Try a smoothie with added greens
· Take a multivitamin supplement (even though this is not as powerful as getting these nutrients from real food)
Numerous studies have shown immune effects from various specific foods. Try adding some into your daily eating routine.
· Citrus fruits. These fruits are rich in vitamin C, which is in high demand when your immune system is stimulated, and also increases production of white blood cells which help fight infection. Citrus fruits include grapefruit, oranges, tangerines, lemons, limes, clementines. Try adding a wedge to your water, having a side with lunch, or as dessert with dinner.
· Beta-carotene foods. This phytonutrient has powerful antioxidant activity, reduces inflammation, and fights oxidative stress. The richest sources are orange, red, yellow, and also green fruits and vegetables.
· Broccoli. Broccoli is loaded with vitamins and minerals including vitamins A, C, E. Try to not overcook it to retain as many nutrients as possible.
· Garlic. Garlic is heavily concentrated in sulfur-containing compounds which have immune boosting properties. Sautéed broccoli and garlic make a wonderful immune boosting combination.
· Ginger. Ginger decreases inflammation and boosts immunity. Try it in a juice or a smoothie, or cooked in soup.
· Spinach. Spinach is rich in vitamin C, antioxidants, beta carotene, and infection fighting properties. Enjoy sautéed spinach, add to a juice or a smoothie, or add a handful into a bowl of soup. It’s also good in omelets.
· Green tea. Green tea is packed with flavonoids and powerful antioxidants. It also contains an amino acid called L-theanine which aids in powering your immune system.
· Fresh herbs. Herbs like oregano, rosemary, thyme are all powerful antimicrobials and contain immune boosting compounds and antioxidants.
· Blueberries. Blueberries and wild blueberries are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and have powerful health benefits. Wild blueberries have a slightly different composition and are a great variation to your diet.
· Probiotics. These good bacteria help you digest nutrients that boost your immune system. You can get these in fermented foods like raw sauerkraut and yogurt, or by taking a supplement.