Lori Middleton, RD, IBCLC
We live in a society where people are constantly searching for a quick fix to their health concerns. Whether it be a supplement that helps them lose weight, a drug that prevents or treats their health condition, or another person that will give them the magic answer to their eating habits. While all of this sounds nice and there are things out there that can help, if a person truly wants to see a result in their health, they will have to put in some hard work and take some accountability.
I want to bring you some tools that will help you feel empowered this cold and flu season when it comes to boosting your immune system. Why not try to prevent illness before it occurs? And if you do end up getting sick, give your body a head-start on kicking whatever you end up catching!
Let’s start simple by drinking plenty of water! Start your day with 16 ounces of water while you get ready in the morning and see if you notice a difference in your energy levels. Your goal should be to consume half of your body weight in ounces of water per day. For example, a 150 pound person should drink 75 ounces of water daily.
Now how about those fruits and vegetables! Is there anyone out there who truly eats the recommended number of fruits and vegetables every day? It can be challenging to fit in 5 to 9 servings per day! But produce rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin E and beta-carotene can boost your immune system. Some of my favorites to add during cold and flu season are oranges, lemons, kiwi, strawberries, blueberries, bell peppers, broccoli, green leafy veggies, carrots, and sweet potatoes.
Zinc is also a super important mineral right now and has been shown to also help those with COVIID-19. It can be found in nuts, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, beans, and lentils. I would recommend trying to include it naturally in your diet before taking a supplement, as some supplements can be a little hard on the stomach.
Don't forget about Vitamin D and Magnesium for immune health! Get your Vitamin D by going outside daily and consuming foods such as wild caught fish, egg yolks and red meats. Magnesium can be found in pumpkin seeds, cashews, almonds, and spinach.
Now for a little gut check! Do you all know how important your gut health is when it comes to your immune system? Well, your gut microbiota helps regulate your immune system, so very important! Help keep your gut healthy with the good bacteria found in probiotics such as unflavored Greek yogurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, apple cider vinegar, and kimchi. There are many others as well, but this would be a good place to start! If none of these options sound tasty, I can help you find a supplement right for you!
I know this can be hard for many, but really taking a look at your sugar intake and decreasing it or even eliminating it completely can help boost your immune system a lot! Start by eliminating any sugar sweetened beverages and sugary snacks and treats!
These are great places to start when it comes to your diet, but I wanted to cover one more thing that can affect your immune system. Stress. Experiencing stress for any duration of time has been proven to decrease your immune system, especially chronic stress. I don’t know about you, but since March 2020 until now, I haven’t been the calmest version of myself and I’m sure many of you can relate. Let’s change that by trying to be mindful about our mental health. Prayer, meditation, yoga, stretching, essential oils, exercising, controlling what you can and leaning on each other are great ways to combat stress.
I hope you feel more empowered to take on the months ahead! If you have any other questions on how to keep you and your family’s health in top shape, I’m happy to help out!