Psssst…. Did you hear? Word on the street is that pineapple juice is a cure for the COVID-19 virus!
Is that true? Can you reduce your risk of getting sick by choosing specific foods? Well, there is no such thing as a free lunch, and if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. That is the case with our bodies and how they fight illness.
You have heard that the best defense is a good offense and it is never more true than with our immune system. If we keep our bodies well fed, they are better able to fight off infections more effectively and efficiently.
The key is to build a healthy immune system. How can we do that? Well, there is no magic potion, but there is a surprisingly simple start: a healthy, well-balanced diet is your way to a healthy immune system.
Every time you sit down to eat a meal, half your plate should be fruits and vegetables. Every. Single. Time. Throw in a palm-sized serving of lean protein, some whole grains and dairy, and you’ve got it!
These foods and nutrients promote a healthy immune system:
- Citrus Fruits, Red Bell Peppers: Vitamin C is thought to increase the production of white blood cells which fight off infection
- Ginger, Garlic, Turmeric: anti-inflammatory
- Broccoli, Spinach: Vitamins A, C, and E, and antioxidants (most effective when it is less cooked)
- Yogurt, Kefir, Kombucha, Sauerkraut, and Kimchi: fermented foods keep your intestines healthy (About 70% of the cells and tissue of the immune system are in the intestinal tract)
- Dairy: Vitamin D aids in building a healthy immune system
- Green and Black Tea: flavonoids, a type of antioxidant
- Animal Protein: Zinc, iron, and selenium, Vitamin B6-- immune boosting nutrients
- Sunflower Seeds, Nuts: phosphorous, magnesium, Vitamin B-6, and Vitamin E
- Papaya: 224 percent of the daily-recommended amount of Vitamin C in a single papaya (papayas also have a digestive enzyme called papain that has anti-inflammatory properties)
- Kiwi: folate, potassium, Vitamin K and Vitamin C
Along with a healthy diet, remember:
- Don't smoke
- Exercise regularly
- Drink only in moderation
- Get adequate sleep
- Reduce and manage chronic stress in your life
- Wash your hands
So, there you have it. No surprise. No secret potion. It’s really quite simple; and Grandma knew it all along. EAT your VEGGIES!
Grenci, Sandra MS, RD, LDN, CDEF. 7 Common Sense Tips for Optimizing Your Immune System, Cooperative Extension of Hunterdon County; firstname.lastname@example.org
Rafie, Carlin .Staying Healthy Through the Foods You Eat: Foods for a Healthy Immune System, Virginia Tech