It’s cold and flu season again which means the dreaded coughs, colds, runny noses, and sleepless nights. As parents we can only do so much in preventing illness in our children, right? We carry our hand sanitizer for public outings and make sure to douse our little’s ones hands immediately after leaving the playground, school, or grocery store. While most people are aware that personal hygiene and hand washing, adequate sleep, and low stress are important for their overall health, most people fail to recognize the power of nutrition in preventing sickness. Poor eating habits may lead to inadequate intake of essential macronutrients and micronutrients and suppress the immune system.
By eating a healthy diet, packed with immune boosting foods, we can not only prevent illness but also shorten duration of sickness. Vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants are linked with boosting immunity including vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, selenium, B vitamins, and iron. In addition, healthy fats, protein, and probiotics are also believed to be immune boosting. Eating a full spectrum diet, including a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables is simple way to make sure you and your family are getting the proper nutrients. This winter season try to incorporate extra servings of the following foods into you and your family’s meals and snacks.
sweet potatoes, yams, carrots, leafy green vegetables, squash, spinach, kale, apricots, cantaloupe, red peppers, mango.
red and yellow peppers, dark leafy greens, kiwi, broccoli, berries, citrus, cooked tomatoes.
eggs, fish, butter, fortified foods. Also 15 minutes of sun exposure daily, no sunscreen.
sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, peanut butter, spinach, sunflower oil, safflower oil.
shellfish, beef, lamb, wheat germ, spinach, pumpkin and squash seeds, sesame seeds, cashews, beans, lentils, cocoa, chocolate, mushrooms.
In addition to adding these immune boosting foods, maintaining a healthy gut is essential for absorption of these nutrients. The gastrointestinal tract is filled with both good and bad bacteria which are influenced by the foods we eat. The beneficial bacteria, called probiotics facilitate good health, digestion and immunity and can be found in yogurt, kefir, kombucha, tempeh, miso, and sauerkraut.
Sugar, sugar substitutes, processed foods, juice, soda, artificial ingredients, and pesticides are thought to suppress the immune system and make us more susceptible to sickness.