Nutritionally, we can do a lot to boost our immune systems. But are we willing?
Considering that the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases estimates that Americans suffer one billion colds and battle three-to-six million cases of the flu annually, it may seem challenging to beat the odds. But the best way to protect and boost your immune system is what you put on your plate. So during the winter months, which unless you live in a warm weather climate, are the hardest months of the year, beef up on healthier options even when the homemade macaroni and cheese is singing your name.
Look to your mother for her chicken soup recipe but look to Mother Nature for the rest of the nutrients you need. It’s a fact that when you skimp on plant foods, you compromise your immune system. Let’s review said facts:
- Phytonutrients from plants are key to keeping your immune system running and your energy revved. Deeply or intensely colored fruits and vegetables tend to have the highest levels of antioxidants and nutrients to protect healthy cells and increase those cells that help fight infection and inflammation. Eat from the rainbow, three or more colors on your plate and include a fruit and/or vegetable at every meal.
- Eat lean protein. Poultry and beans, and even yogurt have been associated with enhanced immunity. Each provides a good source of zinc and other nutrients important to effective immune response. Lean protein sources help preserve muscle tissue, form enzymes, and hormones, and support the formation of cells essential to a healthy immune system.
- Drink fluids. Staying hydrated is vital to keeping your immune system at its best. The role of hydration in reducing chronic disease risk has gained increasing attention in the last decade. Water helps transport the nutrients to our cells for energy, growth, and proper functioning, and it moves the metabolic waste and harmful substances out. Drink plenty of water, at minimum six cups, flat, bubbly, and in teas to maximize hydration and protection from illness.