As the weather becomes colder and we stay indoors, people often catch colds or other viruses. The cold and flu season can begin as early as October and usually ends sometime in April. While there is no way to cure the common cold or the flu, having a healthy immune system is one of your best defenses against those nasty viruses. In fact, many health-and-wellness professionals believe that your immune system is the key to good health and long life. When it’s in good shape, you’re better protected against illness; when it’s not, you’re more likely to get sick. While a healthy lifestyle in general is important, studies have shown that diet plays a special role in keeping the immune system strong.
For a healthy immune system, be sure to regularly include these foods in your diet.
Fill your plate with fruits and vegetables
Load up on vegetables to support your immune system. Dark leafy greens, such as kale and spinach and yellow or orange vegetables like carrots, winter squash and sweet potatoes supply a healthy dose of disease-fighting antioxidants. The vitamins (especially A and C) and the phytochemicals that lend fruits and vegetables their colors serve as antioxidants that promote immune function. Try to eat five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables per day and to maximize the variety of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, aim to consume two different colors of vegetables and fruits with each meal.
Choose lean protein sources
Protein is important for building, repairing and maintaining all of the body’s cells, tissues and organs which help to sustain the immune system and energy levels. The amino acids that are found in protein form the building blocks of all the body’s cells — including the cells that power your immune system. If you don’t consume enough protein, you’ll manufacture fewer white blood cells to combat antigens. You should consume 0.8 to 1 gram of protein per kilogram (kg) of your body weight. That means if you weigh 130 pounds, which equals about 59kg, consume at least 47 grams of protein per day. To avoid saturated fat, choose three- to four-ounce portions of lean protein such as fish, seafood, poultry (without the skin), eggs, lentils, beans, and soy products.
Drink green tea
Tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world, after water. Green tea is rich in polyphenols plant antioxidants as well as a number of other chemicals that can help protect the body against cold or flu. Trade at least one cup of coffee each day for green tea. To derive the optimal amounts of catechins from your tea, let the bag steep for at least three minutes in hot water.
Consume yogurt everyday
Yogurt provides a healthy dose of good bacteria that can protect the body against harmful bacteria and infections. The good bacteria are called probiotics, and studies have shown eating yogurts rich in them can lead to an improved immune response by increasing the body’s white blood cell count. Be sure to look for yogurt or kefir that contains “live active cultures,” indicating helpful bacteria.
There’s no question the immune system fundamentally is influenced by overall health — and nutrition plays an important part in maintaining immune function. Adequately feeding your immune system by choosing the right foods and eating them on a daily basis can help boost its fighting power.
There are also excellent supplements available that can support your immune system. Our Healthy Choice Naturals Immune Essentials is fortified with 20 powerful vitamins and herbs that provide your body with the extra nutritional support it needs during colds and flu season. Order today!