Strong and healthy Immune Systems. A reoccurring topic on the minds of many, given current world events. With all the uncertainty going on, it ultimately makes sense that people want to know how to improve their nutrition and strengthen their immune system. The practicality of it can be quite simple; the mental aspect might be a little more challenging; it becomes a mind-over-matter way of life! During stressful times, while working from home, or with the hot summer weather, we often reach for and enjoy processed treats. This may seem harmless, but in the long run, this can weaken our immunity. Are you looking to make minor changes to impact your immune system positively? Okay, let us dig in!
SUGAR! Yes, processed sugar, I said it… You all knew it was coming. Did you close your eyes, did you silently wish that it would not show up on the list? Unfortunately, sugar does not strengthen our immune system. Anything processed can hinder immunity, and ideally, should be eliminated. When overly processed foods and sugars are avoided, our goal to build strong immunity is achievable. I can imagine giving up your favorite foods can be a hard pill to swallow, especially right now, but do your best! Any step in upping your nutritional game is a positive step forward. With that said, let us talk about all the excellent foods we can incorporate into our diet to help us achieve our health goals. Swap out your ordinary fruits and vegetables for dark-colored foods. Think deep oranges, dark purples, bright reds, dark greens, and vibrant yellows!
Deep Orange: Yams, sweet potato, squash, carrots, mango, blood red oranges
Dark Purple: Black & purple grapes, eggplant, beets, blueberries, red cabbage, blackberries, dark plums
Deep Red: Raspberries, cherries, strawberries, red bell peppers, red cabbage, tomatoes, red onion, radishes
Dark Green: Broccoli, spinach, kale, avocado, brussel sprouts, asparagus, zucchini, dark leaf lettuce, kiwi, dandelion green, beet greens.
Vibrant Yellow & Green: Lemons, limes, golden beets, yellow bell peppers, granny smith apples, yellow tomatoes, regular oranges
Have fun incorporating fresh, clean herbs and spices such as parsley, basil, mint, garlic, ginger & cilantro. Vitamin C foods are a super tasty and helpful tool to keep cold and flu away. The vitamin B family gets used up in high amounts by our body during stressful times. B vitamins help balance our nervous system and are water-soluble, which means we excrete them daily through our urine. With that in mind, it does help to replenish these vitamins daily! Some tasty foods in this category are salmon: eggs, nutritional yeast, nuts, seeds, and good quality grains. Then we have the zinc component. There are some tasty options here, and many of the foods mentioned above overlap in the zinc family. Some zinc foods not previously mentioned include pumpkin and hemp seeds, along with lentils and oysters. These are all a great option to help add some zinc to your daily diet.
The last few essential lifestyle tips I want to touch on are, staying hydrated, sleep routine, and regular exercise! Sufficient daily water intake is vital for good health. Water helps keep your system clean, and it also helps flush out toxins. Love your coffee? No worries! Just make sure for every cup of caffeinated beverage you drink (favor teas and coffee – avoid soda) make sure you add two extra cups of water to your day. Caffeine is a diuretic and adds to dehydration, so the additional water intake helps balance out the caffeine intake. Now more than ever, getting a night of good restful sleep is essential. Sleep is when our body has time to regenerate and recharge. Aim for a minimum of seven hours of uninterrupted sound sleep per night. As for exercise, I know it can be a little hard right now, but did you know exercise is a great stress reliever? It calms the mind and triggers high endorphins that can help relax our mind, body, and soul. If you find it hard to get out and move around comfortably, that’s okay; dance around your basement, garage, or heck the living room for that matter! Do some wall push-ups, go on to YouTube, and watch a free workout; you can even walk on a spot raising your knees high! You will be surprised how fast your cardio kicks in!
Finally, let us not forget your sweet tooth! Yes, I know, no sugar allowed, but a good quality dark chocolate with 80% or higher cocoa should do the trick! Have a small piece, and keep the nighttime cravings away! Overall, the cleaner you eat, the stronger your immune system! Whatever you decide to do, any steps taken toward a cleaner diet is a step toward stronger immunity and good health.
In Health and Happiness
Lisa Poloniato CHN NNCP
Certified Holistic Nutritionist