Recommendations from Harvard Health, MD Anderson Cancer Center and the Cleveland Clinic to Boost our Immune System:
This is a stressful time for all of us not only nationwide but globally. I want to make sure we all feel empowered by the content I provide and that we’re able to use this information to help support ourselves and our loved ones. Here’s a post I’ve prepared using research from Harvard Health, MD Anderson Cancer Center and Cleveland Clinic, on how to support our immune system, fight off infections and STAY HEALTHY!
The immune system is an intricate entity in our bodies that requires daily upkeep if we expect it to fight infections and prevent illnesses. As we age, our immune health declines so it's important to continuously boost it, to prevent viral infections. There are many components that influence how well our immune system works like diet, exercise, age, and daily stress.
The first line of defense in strengthening our immune system is living a healthy lifestyle. This includes replenishing our bodies with essential vitamins and minerals like Vitamin C, B, and D as well as zinc that may be lost due to stress. These all help support a healthy immune system.
There are 3 Vitamins that are best for boosting our immune health:
1- VITAMIN C is probably the most popular vitamin when it comes to boosting immune health. Foods rich in vitamin C include all citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruit, strawberries, bell peppers, spinach, kale and broccoli. According to the Mayo Clinic, the recommended daily amount for vitamin C is 65-90mg per day and the upper limit is 2000mg per day.
2- VITAMIN B6 is an essential component to many functions in the body. We can find vitamin B6 in in plant based foods like chickpeas, potatoes, bananas and green vegetables. The Mayo Clinic says the recommended daily amount of vitamin B6 for adults is 1.3mg per day.
3- VITAMIN E is found in nuts, seeds and spinach and is a powerful antioxidant that helps the body fight off infection. The Mayo Clinic says the recommended amount of this vitamin for adults is 15mg per day.
HOW TO GROCERY SHOP TO BOOST IMMUNE HEALTH:
The number one rule is the more color variety the better! Try to eat a variety of foods and maybe even pick a color we've never eaten before like a purple sweet potato or tri-colored carrots! Generally, the more color variety, the more vitamins and minerals found in those foods! Here are 15 foods to shop for when prioritizing immune health:
Citrus Fruits: lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruit, clementines, high in vitamin C.
Red bell peppers: again for vitamin C as well as beta carotene.
Broccoli: packed with vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber.
Garlic: helps to fight infections and lowers blood pressure.
Ginger: helps to decrease inflammation and stomach aches.
Spinach: rich in Vitamin C and beta carotene to help fight infection.
Fermented vegetables - Kimchi and Sauerkraut with live active cultures, which are probiotics that support the immune system.
Almonds: high in vitamin E which is key for immune health.
Turmeric: good for anti-aging and fighting inflammation.
Green Tea: and black tea are loaded with antioxidants which fights free radicals.
Papaya: high in vitamin C, potassium, and anti-inflammatory properties.
Kiwi: naturally full of essential nutrients like folate, potassium, vitamin K and C.
Chickpeas: high in vitamin B6 which is a crucial vitamin for many chemical reactions in the body and for the formation of new blood cells.
Sunflower Seeds: packed with magnesium, vitamin E and B6.
Kale: rich in vitamin K
You may be thinking, “Can’t I just take a supplement instead of eating these foods?” While a supplement can help fill the gaps in our diet, whole foods provide a more available source of the nutrients for our body. When eating a whole food, we’re not only getting specific micro-nutrients (vitamin and minerals), but also phytonutrients that have strong anti-inflammatory benefits. Just consuming supplements without a healthy whole food plant-strong lifestyle is like trying to fit a window on a wall where the bricks are crumbling down.
It's important to adopt healthy habits as a lifestyle. Maintaining a healthy immune system comes down to the healthy choices we make every time. It's like building a house, one brick won’t do the trick, we need several bricks to build a strong support system for our home! That's exactly what we need to do for our body! Create sustainable healthful habits, one brick at a time, and remember that it's never too late to start!!