As the days grow shorter and the temperature drops, the arrival of the cold and flu season is a harsh reality we all must face. Poor sleep, stress and overindulging in alcohol and sugary foods, weaken your ability to fight off winter ills and prevent you from continuing through the season in best health. While there's no guaranteed way to avoid getting sick, you can take steps to strengthen your immune system and reduce your risk of falling victim to those seasonal bugs
There is no single food or diet that has been shown to cure or prevent disease, but malnutrition can impair your ability to fight off illness and infection. By malnutrition, we are referring to a lack of vitamins, minerals, and micro-nutrients. It may thus come as no surprise that the same nutrient sense, low inflammatory foods that you enjoy on your real-food-based diet that help you lose weight, feel healthy, and look great, are the ones that will help your body against potentially dangerous pathogens.
The best thing you can do to boost your immune system is to regularly consume seasonal, local, humanely raised, pesticide free real food. These foods benefit the immune system by providing important vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, antioxidants, and other nutrients Adding bone broth can help detoxify the body and cleanse the liver. It helps to keep your gut healthy, and can also reduce inflammation and fight respiratory infections in the body.
Tips To Support Your Immune System
Although diet and lifestyle will guarantee you won’t get ill, they can play a role supporting your and your immune system and/or perhaps reducing the severity of symptoms and outcomes. Some tips to boost the strength and resilience of your immune system include:
Load Up on Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a well-known immune booster. It can help your body fight off infections and reduce the severity and duration of cold and flu symptoms. Some of the best sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruits, and lemons. However, you can also get your daily dose from strawberries, kiwi, and bell peppers.
These foods are not only rich in vitamin C but also contain flavonoids, which can help ease symptoms and speed up recovery.
Embrace the Power of Probiotics
A healthy gut is essential for a strong immune system. Probiotics, often found in fermented foods, can help maintain the balance of good bacteria in your digestive system. Incorporate foods like sauerkraut, kimchi and naturally fermented vegetables into your diet to support a robust gut microbiome.
Include Zinc-Rich Foods
Zinc is a mineral that plays a vital role in the function of your immune system and can reduce the severity and duration of colds caused by viruses.
The richest food sources of zinc include meat, fish, and seafood along with pastured eggs and grass-fed dairy (if consuming). If you're a vegetarian or vegan, consider taking zinc supplements after consulting with a healthcare professional.
Alliums: Nature's Antibiotic
Garlic, onions, scallions, chives, leeks and shallots have been used for thousands of years, not only for their flavor and gut-supportive fiber, but also for their powerful anti-viral, antibacterial and antifungal effects. Crush or chop and allow to sit for a few minutes before consuming for maximum effect.
Spice It Up with Turmeric
Turmeric contains curcumin, a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compound. Adding turmeric to your meals or enjoying a warm cup of turmeric tea can help reduce inflammation and bolster your
Keep It Colourful
A colorful plate usually indicates a diverse range of nutrients. Fruits and vegetables with vibrant colors often contain various vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can enhance your immune system. Be sure to fill your plate with a rainbow of produce, from red peppers to blueberries.
Leafy greens like spinach, kale, and Swiss chard are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They are particularly high in vitamin C and vitamin A, both of which play crucial roles in immune function. Incorporate these greens into your salads, smoothies, or sautéed dishes.
Don't Forget Your Nuts & Seeds
Nuts and seeds, such as almonds, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds, are packed with nutrients like vitamin E and selenium. These compounds help support immune function and keep your body resilient against infections.
Staying well-hydrated is essential for your immune system to function optimally. Good old H2O is often overlooked, but staying properly hydrated is one of the simplest and most effective ways to support your immune system. Water helps your body flush out toxins and transport nutrients, ensuring your immune cells can function optimally.
Herbal teas, like chamomile, ginger, and echinacea, not only keep you hydrated but also provide additional immune-boosting benefits. The warmth of the tea can soothe a sore throat or alleviate congestion.
Read on here for more tips on how to hydrate.
Sip On Some Bone Broth
Bone broth is rich in amino acids, which the immune system is dependent on to function properly. Amino acids regulate the immune system and are needed to produce antibodies that fight infection. Bone broth is rich in amino acids, which the immune system is dependent on to function properly
Some amino acids, such as proline, have antiviral properties. Proline is especially abundant in bone broth and can stimulate the immune system to produce white blood cells and natural killer cells to fight infection. At the same time, proline can reduce inflammation, protect the brain and nerves, and repair damaged tissues.
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Get Your Daily Dose of Vitamin D
Vitamin D is essential for immune function. While it can be challenging to get enough vitamin D solely from food sources, include vitamin D-rich foods like fatty fish, eggs, and full fat dairy products (if you choose to consume those) in your diet. Spending time outdoors and exposing your skin to sunlight is another natural way to boost your vitamin D levels.
Get more information on Vitamin D here
Limit Sugar Intake
Excessive sugar consumption can suppress the immune system and make you more susceptible to infections. Choose for real-food, unprocessed sweeteners like honey or maple syrup and reduce your intake of sugary snacks and beverages.
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Prioritize Rest and Sleep
No amount of healthy eating can replace the benefits of a good night's sleep.
Sleep deprivation has a detrimental effect on the immune system. Our modern lifestyle has led to a decrease in quality sleep time, and it has been taking its toll on society. The exact mechanisms are an area of active investigation. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night to allow your body to rest, recover, and recharge your immune system. By simply optimizing your sleep, both in quantity and quality, your body will be better prepared to handle whatever is thrown at it on a daily basis.
For tips on how to get better sleep, read on here
Avoid Alcohol & Smoking
Lastly, alcohol may have a place in your diet as an occasional indulgence. However, consumption of alcohol reduces the bioavailability of certain nutrients. Alcohol disrupts immune pathways thus impairing the body’s ability to defend against infection.
Smoking slowly kills your lungs. No extra detail needed!!
Staying healthy during the cold and flu season doesn't have to be a daunting task. By making smart choices when it comes to your diet and lifestyle, you can naturally boost your immune system and increase your chances of staying well. Incorporate a variety of these real food-based tips into your daily routine, and you'll be well-prepared to face the challenges of the season with a robust and resilient immune system. Remember, a balanced diet, combined with other healthy habits, is your best defense against colds and the flu.