The immune system is our body’s defense against germs, viruses, and other diseases. In many ways it functions much like our military. When a threat is identified, the troops are sent out to fight. It’s a complicated system with many parts that require several resources to keep it strong. Nutrition plays an important role in keeping the immune system strong and ready to fight. Here are five foods and a select list of healthy habits that have been shown to play an important part in our immune system.
1) Gobble Up Garlic
Studies show that garlic has protective properties that can assist the body in fighting off bacteria and viruses. Add plenty of garlic to your dishes to enhance flavor and boost immunity. Don't be shy in adding garlic to soups, stews, sauces, hummus and roasted vegetables!
2) Get Quality Sleep
If you aren't getting enough shut eye, this can negatively impact your immune system. The immune system undergoes necessary restoration and repair while you are sleeping. The optimal amount of sleep for an adult is seven to nine hours per night.
3) Move Your Body
Exercise is good for every cell, organ and system in your body, including the immune system. It is also an effective way to manage stress. When you exercise you release stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol and replace them with feel good hormones. Get outside and walk, run or go for a bike ride. Fresh air is also good for your mental and physical well being!
4) Stay Hydrated
Be sure to drink plenty of fluids to ensure you are well hydrated. Adequate hydration is essential to keep all of your organ systems working smoothly and effectively. Drink plenty of water and eat lots of fruits and vegetables these foods are mostly water so in addition to providing essential nutrients, they help keep you hydrated, too!
5) Limit Alcohol & Processed Foods
This should come as no surprise since alcohol and processed foods can displace healthy and important foods and nutrients. Alcohol can interfere with important immune system functions and negatively affect sleep quality.
Note: Eating right can strengthen your health and immunity from within, but that's not the primary way to protect yourself from COVID-19. The CDC recommends frequent hand washing, not touching your face, sanitizing common objects and practicing social distancing. Taking care of yourself through good nutrition is important so that you are best equipped to fight this or any infection.
The Power Of Nutrients
Knowledge is power. The same is true for knowledge about nutrients. Once you understand how different types of nutrients contribute to your health, you’ll be eager to incorporate these into your diet. Here are 7 nutrients you should aim towards incorporating every day through whole foods and/or vitamin supplements.
Key Functions: cell formation, promotes and supports healing and recovery Sources: lean meats, seafood, poultry, eggs, beans, nuts, seeds
Key Functions: tissue repair, fights infection Sources: sweet potatoes, carrots, peppers, apricots, broccoli, spinach, eggs
Key Functions: antioxidant, formation of antibodies, white blood cell production Sources: oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, papaya, berries, peppers, broccoli
Functions: antioxidant, protects against cell damage, fights infection Sources: sunflower seeds, almonds, peanut butter, wheat germ, broccoli, spinach, fortified cereals
Functions: cell communication, key player in important cell reactions Sources: chickpeas, fish, poultry, potatoes, bananas
Functions: white blood cell production Sources: fish, poultry, beef, eggs, milk, fortified cereals, fortified plant based milks
Functions: activates the white blood cells that attack targeted invaders, fights infection, promotes and supports healing Sources: oysters, lean meats, poultry, seafood, milk, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds