Boost your immune system naturally with these foods, recipes, and tips.
A big part of staying well is being prepared for obstacles. How many times have you been going strong then get knocked off your game with a cold? Getting sick is a quick way to derail a healthy lifestyle.
So, today I’m sharing a few ways to ward off bad bugs and keep your immune system in tiptop shape.
- Get enough sleep. Most adults need 7-8 hours of sleep a day. Sure you can get away with less but research shows that over time, poor sleep habits can weaken the immune system. And there’s more, your body uses sleep to heal and repair your heart and blood vessels. Regularly skimping on shut-eye may increase your risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and more.
- Eat well. Add these immune boosting foods to your plate regularly.
- Fruits and vegetables. Foods like cherries, blueberries, greens, onions, and green tea are chock full of polyphenols – these tiny but powerful compounds help fight off disease. Fill at least half your plate or bowl with a variety of fruits and vegetables (except French fries… those don’t count!)
- Garlic. At least one study found that garlic (supplements) may boost immune cell function and help reduce the severity of colds. You can take a garlic supplement or embrace the garlic breath and enjoy raw garlic in your meals. Add it to salads, salad dressing, hummus and cooked dishes like soups near the end of cooking.
- Vitamin D. Because we spend more time indoors and get less sun exposure, we generally make less Vitamin D in the winter. This nutrient plays a major role in immune cell function. To boost your intake, try salmon, tuna, sardines, some mushrooms and fortified foods like yogurt, non-dairy and regular milk which are good sources.
- Manage stress. There’s fascinating new research on how meditation and mindfulness may help strengthen the body’s natural defenses. Stress can wreak havoc on the body. And sometimes you can’t escape the stress from work or home life. Believe me, I get it. However, you can control how you respond to it. Take a walk outside or pause for 5-10 minutes for a little deep breathing. You might also use an app like Headspace or Pacifica to help you meditate and take mental breaks throughout the day.
Get Started: Add at least one of the foods I mentioned to your weekly shopping list. Go to bed 30 minutes earlier tonight. Identify one source of stress (if you have it) and commit to one way to reduce it.
Here are some recipes to help you get started on the eating well part:
Salmon Bowl with Creamy Garlic Dressing
Gingered Vegetable Stir-Fry with Cashews
Chicken & White Bean Soup with Greens