The COVID-19 pandemic has brought new-found awareness of the importance of our health and many people are asking what they can do to “boost” their immune function. In truth, you want an optimally functioning immune system – not one that is overactive or under active, and achieving that goes back to the pillars of health.There are some steps you can take to help your immune system in top shape, and if taking care of yourself has been back burnered for a while, now is the time to refocus.
Taking action goes a LONG way toward moving you from overwhelmed to empowered.
Below is a list of healthy immune-boosting actions you can take to get back that sense of control.
NOTE: Remember, it is still super important to follow prevention guidelines for hand washing, wearing a mask and maintaining social distance from all people, even if you follow these steps!
Top things you can do to improve your health.
- Get enough sleep. This can help improve your body’s natural immune function. Aim for 7-8 hours a night.
- Keep up with your fitness routine. Moderate to intense workouts lasting under an hour help boost your immune system both immediately and in the long run.
- Cut back on your stress with scheduled downtime and breathing exercises. Chronic stress appears to wear down your immune system, which can make you more vulnerable to illness.
- Eat a healthy & balanced diet that’s low in sugar. A balanced diet that contains veggies, fruits, and healthy fats is rich in antioxidants and micronutrients that support your immune system.
- Stay hydrated. Drinking enough water makes it easier for your cells to do their job – plus allows your body to more easily process food and eliminate waste. Shoot for at least 64 ounces (240 ml) glasses a day.
Eating a healthy diet obviously takes education and effort. We’ve made it easy for you, buy pulling together some of our favorite immunity-friendly recipes. While no single food or nutrient can prevent or cure viral infections, consistently meeting requirements of certain key nutrients will support your immune system and reduce the risk of health complications.
This recipe collection contains recipes high in nutrients known to support the immune system including:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
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Here is a little more context so you know what to look for when you’re grocery shopping as well!
Vitamin A is a powerful anti-oxidant with a critical role in enhancing immune function. This micronutrient is involved in cellular immune response and provides enhanced defense against multiple infectious diseases. Vitamin A is found in bright orange and yellow foods like sweet potato, mango, carrots, and bell peppers, and dark leafy greens like kale, spinach, and broccoli.
Vitamin C is probably the most well-known anti-oxidant, and thousands of people take high-dose supplements with hopes of “boosting” their immune system. However, research shows that vitamin C from food at a dose of 100 mg to 200 mg per day is effective at preventing respiratory infections. Natural sources of Vitamin C include strawberries, cauliflower, red bell peppers, mango, and grapefruit.
Vitamin E plays an important role in immune function and supplementation has even been shown to reduce respiratory infection in the elderly. Rather than relying on supplements, deficiency can be prevented through adequate dietary intake of foods like nuts, seeds, leafy greens, and plant-based oils as a way to keep the immune system functioning optimally.
Selenium is an essential mineral that acts as a powerful anti-oxidant. Adequate dietary selenium is required for the function of almost every arm of the immune system, so falling short can have serious consequences when it comes to fighting infections. Brazil nuts are extremely high in selenium, but can easily exceed the daily upper limit and cause toxicity if eaten frequently. Sardines are an excellent source of selenium that can be eaten more frequently and provide anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats which also have beneficial effects on the immune system. Other foods high in selenium include eggs, beef, and oats.
Zinc is an essential mineral critical for immune function. Even mild to moderate zinc deficiency can impair immune function and increase risk of respiratory infections, so adequate dietary zinc should be emphasized for anyone looking to protect their immune system. Zinc is found in whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, and meat so eating a diet high in whole foods is key to getting enough zinc.
Keep taking care of you!