Nutrition should always be a priority to everyone day in and day out, but I don’t believe there has ever been a time as important as right now. Food is what gives us the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to keep our immune system strong and be able to fight off viruses. This is the time to really look at our diets and focus on getting as many whole foods rich in nutrients into our diets. Many of us are isolating at home so it means we now have the time to prepare healthy meals and snacks. So often we are on the go and grabbing food as we run out the door or grabbing take out because we stayed late at work and don’t want to cook when we get home.
There are so many posts on the internet about how to stay healthy; get 7-9 hours of sleep, exercise daily, drink plenty of water, lower stress levels AND eat healthy!
What does an immune-boosting diet look like?
It’s rich in fruits and veggies.
These foods are full of vitamins and antioxidants. Vitamin C is proven to help boost the immune system. Foods highest in vitamin C include red bell peppers, broccoli, cantaloupe, brussels sprouts, papayas, kale, strawberries, oranges, tomatoes, sweet potatoes just to name a few.
Try to include a source of vitamin C at each meal and snack. Fruits and veggies can be bought fresh or frozen. This is a great time to stockpile on frozen fruits and vegetables. This ensures they will not go bad and will limit the times that you need to venture out to the stores.
Fiber and probiotic-rich foods are the keys to immune health.
Over 70% our immune system is in our gut. Fiber and good bacteria help keep our gut healthy. Once again, Fruits and veggies come in for an excellent fiber source. Other sources include beans, whole grains, and nuts. Many people have stockpiled beans so this is the time to try some new recipes for meatless meals. Our diets should have a minimum of 25 grams of fiber per day.
It’s also important to include good bacteria through probiotic-rich foods. These include fermented foods such as kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, yogurt, tempeh, and miso. A goal would be to include one of these foods daily into your diet.
Try herbs and spices in your cooking.
Turmeric, garlic, ginger, cayenne pepper, and cinnamon all have the ability to boost an immune system. Turmeric helps bring down inflammation, garlic has been used for medicinal purposes since ancient times.
Healthy proteins and fats.
Healthy fats help decrease inflammation in our bodies which is key for our body to be able to fight off unwanted invaders. Every meal should include one healthy fat such as olive oil, nuts, seeds, avocados, fatty fish, such as salmon, sardines or anchovies. Fatty fish can also count as a good protein source. Our body needs protein to keep tissues healthy and to aid in daily repair. Good sources include lean chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, beans, nuts, seeds, and occasional grass-fed beef or pork.
Aim for ½ your body weight in ounces of water daily. This is even more important if you do start to run a fever. A fever will quickly dehydrate us leaving us depleted. So, it is best to stay well hydrated so your body is functioning at its optimal level. Realize that when a body is dehydrated it will slow every function in our body, including our immune system and healing.
In closing, I urge everyone to take this time and take care of their bodies. If anything, this time spent at home can be a time for us to reset. Allow ourselves to rest, get adequate sleep and eat healthy.