Cold and flu season is right around the corner, and it’s never too early to begin focusing on your immune system. Not to mention, this year has made a great case for the importance of a strong immune system.
It's easy to think of your immune system as something static and unchanging, but the truth is there's plenty you do to impact your immunity. In fact, the food you eat has a tremendous impact on your immunity.
Don’t wait until it’s too late to start taking your immune system seriously. Annie, our certified holistic nutritionist, has created a list of 16+ foods, ingredients, and recipes that you can use to take control of your immunity.
With diet and immunity having such a close connection, it's easy for things to get out of whack. Luckily, we have some tips for ensuring your diet isn't hurting your immune system.
One of the very first dietary recommendations we can make is to remove sugar during times of immune compromise. Consuming sugar significantly slows your body's healing process because it floods your bloodstream with glucose instead of vitamins and antioxidants that boost your immunity.
With so much glucose in your blood, your body will have trouble absorbing the important nutrients necessary during a time of immune defense. Additionally, glucose is known to negatively affect the white blood cells' ability to fight infections.
In fact, studies show that a blood sugar level of 120 can reduce the body's ability to absorb and destroy viruses and bacteria by 75% for up to six hours. So, if you're trying to make a positive change for your immunity, cutting out processed sugars and refined grains from your diet should be the first step.
There's nothing more valuable for your immune health than constructing a diet based on whole foods, fruits, and vegetables. Although you can get many important nutrients by taking certain vitamins or pills, studies show that it's better to get them in your normal diet.
This is because the phytonutrients and naturally-occurring vitamins, minerals, and enzymes in whole foods are absorbed by the body much more easily than when in pill form.
Our immune system is largely contained in our gastrointestinal system, which is why it's important to feed your gut microbiome foods that help with immunity.
So, which foods jive with your gut microbiome and help boost immunity? Consider foods rich in fiber, like beans, grains, vegetables, sprouts, and seeds. When in doubt, also seek out brightly-colored vegetables and fruits which are filled with antioxidants and phytonutrients that ease inflammation and modulate your immune system.
These types of foods boost levels of natural killer cells, a type of white blood cells that is essential to your immune system's response to infected cells.
Here are our favorite foods and ingredients to help build up your immune system:
Portions are also an important part of building a stronger immune system through your diet. When preparing meals, we recommend making sure your meal is about 50% leafy green vegetables, 25% lean proteins, and 25% whole grains or additional vegetables. If you opt for additional veggies, green beans, squash, and sweet potatoes are great options.
Annie, our certified holistic nutritionist, also recommends having a side of soup or broth to go with your meal. Soups and broths that are rich in garlic and onion are particularly beneficial since their immunoprotective phytonutrients don't degrade when heated.
If you’re interested in some tasty immune-boosting recipes, don’t miss our on our exclusive deal: When you purchase our Immunity Wellness, you’ll get our exclusive e-book “The SMART Guide to Immune Health.” This e-book features valuable advice from Infectious Diseases Doctor Melissa King, MD, and a series of great immune-boosting recipes that you don’t want to miss!
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Sometimes, a smoothie is the easiest way to get all the immune-boosting superfoods your body needs. Your life is busy enough as it is, and crafting a complete meal that caters to your immune system isn't always an option.
If you're constantly on-the-go, you'll love these smoothie recipes: