Eat This To Boost Your Immune System

One of the easiest ways to have a healthy immune system is by living a healthy lifestyle. A healthy lifestyle includes eating healthy. Food is medicine! When we eat clean, whole foods that are not processed and do not contain chemicals or pesticides, our body can extract the nutrients it needs to stay healthy. Let's face it, if you eat crappy food it will translate into crappy health!

Eating clean, whole foods to keep your immune system healthy doesn't mean you have to eat boring meals or a lot of oranges. There is a wide variety of nutrients that help the immune system stay strong. This translates into a lot of different ingredients to create tasty meals.


WHY GUT HEALTH IS IMPORTANT FOR A HEALTHY IMMUNE SYSTEM


Did you know that to keep the immune system healthy, we also need to keep the digestive system healthy? 70% of our immune system is found in the gut. If the gut is unhealthy, so is the rest of our body. Clean, whole foods will keep the gut healthy by providing a lot of fiber and will keep the immune system healthy with vital nutrients processed and absorbed by the gut.


How do you know if your gut is unhealthy? Our body is so smart, it tells us when our gut is unhealthy by giving us a bunch of symptoms, we just have to listen. Symptoms such as migraines, headaches, diarrhea, constipation, bloating, gas, being tired all the time, memory problems, rashes, acne, frequent colds, sleeping poorly and abdominal pain are just a few of the ways your gut knows it is unhealthy.


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IMMUNE SYSTEM NUTRIENTS


Below is a list of the key nutrients needed by your immune system, why they are needed and the foods they are found in.

VITAMIN C


WHY? Vitamin C is a major nutrient that is needed not only by the immune system but most of the systems in the body. It is anti-viral which is why it is so well known for keeping your immune system healthy. There have been several studies on Vitamin C showing that by taking Vitamin C daily, your chances of developing a cold are reduced by 50%. (Source: Research Gate)


FOODS: Citrus fruits, bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, kiwi, celery, romaine lettuce and tomatoes.


VITAMIN A


WHY? Vitamin A helps to support the respiratory system and may stimulate the immune system. Vitamin A is needed by the gut to form immune tolerance. If we become immune intolerant, that means the gut cannot protect us against a wide range of illnesses. (Source: Clinical Education)


FOODS: Carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, kale, winter squash, parsley and asparagus

VITAMIN D


WHY? Vitamin D can reduce the frequency of upper respiratory infections and protect against viral and bacterial respiratory infections. When we are deficient in vitamin D, it leads to increased susceptibility to infections. (Source: NIH)


FOODS: Vitamin D is only found in shrimp, sardines, cod, milk, and eggs. Regardless of what type of the type of foods you eat, supplementation is necessary to support the immune system. I recommend a daily dose of 400 IU of Vitamin D to help your body get the nutrient it needs.

VITAMIN E


WHY? Vitamin E helps the immune cells fight infection when it exists in the body.


FOODS: Sunflower seeds, almonds, spinach, kale, olives, blueberries and kiwi.

B VITAMINS


WHY? B Vitamins are necessary for ensuring the right amount of antibodies are produced. Most of us are deficient in B vitamins especially as we get older. If you eat a lot of protein, drink alcohol or use oral contraceptives, you are B vitamin deficient. Not having enough B vitamins means our bodies have reduced responses to antibodies.


FOODS: B Vitamins are difficult to get in large quantities through food. Take a B Complex supplement every day.

SELENIUM


WHY? Selenium affects all parts of the immune system. Lack of selenium results in a depressed immune system. This nutrient is difficult to get from a wide variety of foods. As far as plant based foods go, Brazil Nuts have the highest levels of selenium. I recommend taking a supplement of 200 mcg daily to ensure you are supporting your immune system.


ZINC

WHY? Zinc deficiencies were only discovered in the 1960's and it is considered very common. Unfortunately, there is not a reliable test that can tell if a person is zinc deficient. Zinc is needed during infection to help stop inflammation in the body that can be damaging. (Source: Science Daily)


FOODS: Meat, shellfish, legumes, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, hemp seeds, cashews, quinoa, rice and oats.

EATING FOR IMMUNE HEALTH


I recommend eating an immune boosting meal at least once a day during peak times of cough/cold season, flu season and allergy season. This is the minimum, it is better if you can weave these meals into your routine at least twice a day. Allergy season is often overlooked for immune system support. Allergies can turn into nasty infections so a strong immune system is necessary.

RECIPES


SMOOTHIES: Smoothies are a great option to start your day with an immune boost. I make them as economical as possible by relying on frozen fruits and veggies. Here are some delicious recipes to try.

Immune Booster Sweet Green Smoothie from Foodie Crush.

Immunity Boosting Smoothie from Fountain Avenue Kitchen.

Loaded Vitamin C Immune Booster Smoothie from Easy Cooking with Molly.

Immune Boosting Green Smoothie from Feed Me Phoebe.

Immune Boosting Smoothie from The Wholesome Fork.

SALADS: While you may not think salad when you think of the immune system, it is easy to create one with the key nutrients listed above. A lot of vegetables that support the immune system lend themselves well to salads. Vegetables like spinach, carrots, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, cauliflower, brussels sprouts and mushrooms just to name a few. Try some of the below for lunch!

Super Immunity Power Salad from The Garden Grazer.

Broccoli Kale Spinach Salad from the Reluctant Entertainer.

Raw Chopped Veggie Salad from Veggie Inspired.

Mediterranean Salmon Salad from Eating Bird Food.

Shrimp Cauliflower Salad from I Breathe I'm Hungry.

MAIN DISHES: Dinner may be the easiest to plan for immune boosting meals. A little planning, meal-prepping and even cooking dishes ahead of time so all you have to do is reheat results in healthy and delicious dinners. Some of the recipes will even have left-overs for lunch. If you feel the recipe is a little light for dinner, add an immune boosting side salad made with spinach, romaine lettuce, tomatoes and mushrooms.

Vegetarian Black Bean Chili Stuffed Sweet Potatoes by Ambitious Kitchen.

Turkey Stuffed Peppers from Skinny Taste.

Kale Roasted Vegetable Quinoa Casserole from Becky's Best Bites.


Easy Chicken Soup with Greens from The Lemon Bowl.


SUMMARY


I hope you enjoyed learning about the nutrients and foods needed to keep the immune system healthy. Not only will eating clean, whole foods provide critical nutrients to the immune system, they will also provide much needed fiber to the digestive system to keep the gut healthy. After all, 70% of our immune system is in our gut.


Do you think you will try any of the recipes above? Let me know by leaving a comment.


#vegetarianrecipes #recipe #healthycooking #cooking #mealplanning #plantbased #guthealth #immunesystem

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