Nutrition Manifesto to Immune Health with a DietitianSeptember, 2018
Our immune system is responsible for defending us against illness, but if we don’t prepare it to fight the aggressors it encounters, we can get sick more often.
Some things that can compromise our immune systems are lack of sleep, lack of nutrition, exposure to germs, colds and flu. If you’re as busy as I am, you know what it feels like to get run down from being too busy and neglecting your health! Our body has the natural capacity to defend itself, but sometimes it needs some help. Being proactive is your best bet!
I think one of the most common misconceptions about our immune system is that diet doesn’t play much of a role in keeping us healthy. People tend to focus more on reactive measures like avoiding sick people who sneeze around them. But along with sleep and exercise, diet plays a huge role in keeping us healthy overall. What we eat directly affects our immune system! Think of what you eat as just another opportunity to avoid all the nasties going around.
I’ve developed this immunity diet manifesto with simple tips to help keep your immune system in optimal shape:
Don’t skip meals and snacks
Think of each meal as an opportunity to build your immune system with healthy foods. Plenty of brightly coloured fruits and vegetables, fatty fish and whole grains are immune-builders. I always recommend 5-8 servings of vegetables and 1-3 servings of fruit a day to ensure we get the vitamins, antioxidants and fiber we need. At two meals a day, try to fill half your plate with vegetables – that way, you’ll knock off at least four of those veggie servings.
Eat on a regular schedule
Letting yourself get too hungry – like when you eat nothing between lunch and supper and then grab whatever is in your path when you arrive home – increases your risk of eating whatever food you see first. In many cases, that food isn’t your healthiest choice. Prepare for that situation in advance by bringing some healthy snacks with you to work, and make sure your fridge is stocked with prepped meals. The more organized you are, the easier you’ll find it to eat healthier.
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Probiotics are important
Gut health appears to play a large role in our immunity, so it’s important to make sure we have good bugs in our gut, and that we keep them happy! Fermented foods like kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, and kombucha, a sparkling drink that’s sold in many supermarkets, contain healthy bacteria that can help our microbiome.
Cut your fast food habit
In a recent study, rats that ate a fast food diet high in calories and fat had immune system reactions that mimicked bacterial infections.
Eat more chickpeas!
We need zinc for a healthy immune system, so if you’re low in this mineral, you might find yourself getting sick more often. Some other foods that contain zinc are whole grains, dairy products and oysters.
Crunch some almonds for vitamin E
Studies suggest that vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that helps keep our immune system in good shape. Almonds are also a source of zinc, so they’re a great choice for immune-boosting snacks or as an addition to meals.
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