In the midst of COVID-19, a common question is “how can I build my immune system?” The type of nutrition you choose determines the fuel that will keep your immunity strong. Here are some immune-boosting foods from Mai Trinh to give your body the nutrients it needs.
Did you know certain foods can increase your immunity power against viruses to help prevent getting sick? Learn how to help your body become a virus-fighting machine by giving it the nutrition it needs.
How Your Gut Health Helps Keep Infection Away
In fact, research shows that the biggest part of your immune system resides in your digestive tract in the form of bacteria. Your gut health affects your whole body and is referred to as the microbiome. Your body’s gut bacteria boosts your immune system so it can activate key enzyme production and help balance your hormones. The microbiome breaks down toxic food compounds as well so it can protect your body from invaders. As a result, your gut bacteria helps with converting vitamin-rich food into things your body can use to help fight infection. An instant way to boost your health today is by feeding your microbiome foods that make good bacteria flourish in your body!
Focus on Plant-Based Immune-Boosting Foods to Jump-Start Your Health
Eating smart can help you fight off viruses! The rule of thumb for immune-boosting foods and nutrition is to load up on high-fiber fresh vegetables and fruit. Dietary fiber is essential for improving your gut health because it helps rid your body of toxins. Research shows that dietary unprocessed fiber found in fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain helps lower your risk of chronic disease, heart disease, diabetes, different types of cancer. You can maintain a healthy weight by focusing more on green leafy vegetables and low-sugar fruits like raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries. Adding colorful vegetables and a rainbow of color into your diet like red bell peppers, carrots, cucumbers, and broccoli will rev up your gut health.
Aside from focusing on low-sugar fruits and vegetables, whole grains keep your bowels moving. They’ll also help keep heart disease at bay. Focus on whole grain foods like steel-cut oatmeal, wheat germ, brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat bread, and barley that are high in fiber and nutrient-dense. Look for fermented foods like sauerkraut, Greek yogurt, and pickles to help feed the good bacteria in your digestive tract.
Immune-Boosting Foods to Fight Disease
Focusing on anti-inflammatory foods that strengthen your immune system is key to avoiding infections. Importantly, these specific foods reduce inflammation in your body. Chronic inflammation in the body weakens your immune system and causes damage to your bodily tissues. Certain foods can increase inflammation and cause your body to not be strong enough to fight off viruses and infections. These include fast food, soda, refined white sugar, alcohol, highly processed flour, and saturated fat.
You can load up on healthy monounsaturated fats like olive oil, nuts, and avocados that are great for your heart! Remember to eat your fat-soluble vitamin-rich foods like sweet potato, kale, and cantaloupe to keep your body in balance.
Fortunately, other types of foods can reduce the inflammatory response in your body. Be sure to add garlic, onions, turmeric, fresh lemon and are all anti-microbial foods that boost your immunity. Add these foods to your cooking daily. You can start your morning with a mug of warm water and lemon juice. Be sure to throw in diced garlic and onions to your chicken and soup dishes. If you want to add turmeric to your savory dishes to add color, this is a superstar herb used in India that has powerful medicinal compounds. Eating turmeric can help decrease oxidative damage in your body caused by environmental factors.
Zinc-Rich Foods Protect You Against Colds
Another mineral to boost your health is zinc. Zinc helps your immune system stay strong and balances the body’s immune function. It is an important mineral that is necessary for wound healing. Zinc even protects your sense of taste and smell. It’s important to note that one of the symptoms that COVID-19 patients have reported is a loss of taste and smell. Getting a lot of colds can mean that you are low in zinc.
Eating plenty of zinc-rich foods now is important for your immunity. Healthy foods that are high in zinc include lean meats, shellfish, legumes, nuts and seeds, eggs, and whole grains. Good news for chocolate lovers: dark chocolate with at least 70% cacao is also rich in zinc and great for your health.
Low-Sugar Immune-Boosting Foods for Your Body
One easy tip that you can incorporate right now to increase your chances of robust health and longevity is lowering your sugar intake. Refined white sugar does not have vitamins and nutrients to help your immunity. Instead, sugar breaks down your immune system and can lead to Type-2 Diabetes.
Sugar is lacking in nutrients and causes weight gain, tooth decay, and makes your blood sugar levels unstable. Focusing on a low-glycemic lifestyle that is low in sugar will keep your insulin levels stable, and can lead to better health outcomes for your whole life. A low sugar lifestyle can also help with maintaining a healthy weight.
- 1 blender
- 1 frozen banana
- 1 cup frozen pineapple
- 2-3 cups organic spinach
- 2 tsp fresh, grated ginger or 2 Tbsp pure, organic ginger juice
- 1 tsp fresh, grated turmeric root
- 1/2 Tbsp raw honey
- 1/2 cup almond milk
- In a large blender, add in all ingredients and blend on high for 1-2 minutes (or until all ingredients are combined). If it's too thick, add in more almond milk to thin out the consistency.
Probiotic-Rich Foods Keep You in Balance
Probiotics are active bacteria and yeast that keep your gut in balance. A key to keeping your immunity healthy is eating probiotic-rich foods that feed the good bacteria in your digestive tract. Top probiotic-rich foods that help digestion include Greek yogurt, sauerkraut, miso soup, soft fermented cheeses like Gouda, fresh sourdough bread, Tempeh, and pickled vegetables.
You can also choose to take live probiotics in the form of supplements, but this is not a substitute for probiotic-rich food. Be intentional about how you feed your gut bacteria and feel good about adding an extra helping of sauerkraut and pickles at your next meal.
Infection-Fighting Steps to Take Today
When it comes to fueling your body with immunity-boosting foods, there is a lot in your control. Consider having a plant-based dinner theme night where you load up on your vegetables and fruit. Powerful anti-inflammatory foods include garlic, ginger, onions, lemons, and turmeric, so think about adding those to your daily cooking.
One of the most important steps to take to fight off sickness is to pause on the sugar and instead say yes to leafy greens and high-fiber unprocessed meals. Toss that green salad and add your red peppers and colorful veggies so you can eat for great health! Taking charge of the fuel going into your body will not only help you live longer and fight off disease but make you feel better each day!