Healthy Choices for a Stronger Immune System

Fresh fruits and vegetables are loaded with nutrients that are essential to our well-being. We all know that our eating habits have a strong impact on our health and a person's ability to fight off sickness. During Flu season you may wonder why some people end up stuck at home for days, working to nurse themselves back to good health while others appear to stand tall in the face of Flu season, seemingly invincible to the common cold and Flu alike. For so many of us, It’s all about the body’s immune system. The immune system is our first line of defense of against a virus or infectious organism entering the body. The stronger your immune system is at defending against these organisms, the lower your chances of you falling ill. While a strong immune system won’t actually make you invincible to illness, it can certainly stop potential sicknesses from taking hold and keeping you under house arrest.


An Apple A Day Keeps the Doctor Away

The saying, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” can actually hold truths as the consumption of vitamins can boost your immune system. Vitamin A, B6, C, D and E can help increase the strength of the immune system with vitamin C being the biggest booster of all. You can get Vitamin C from citrus fruits like Orange, Grapefruit, Spinach and Strawberries. You can take multivitamin supplements from your doctor, however, natural intake through food is the best way. Most people turn to vitamin C after they've caught a cold because it helps build up your immune system. But because Vitamin C helps to increase the production of white blood cells, it's important to give your system this boost proactiveley, rather than in response to getting sick. Consider including these popular citrus fruits in your diet regularly to keep Vitamin C levels high:

  •     grapefruit
  •     oranges
  •     tangerines
  •     lemons
  •     limes
  •     clementines

Because your body doesn't produce or store it, you need daily vitamin C for continued health. Almost all citrus fruits are high in vitamin C. With such a variety to choose from, it's easy to add a squeeze of this vitamin to any meal.

Papaya is another fruit loaded with vitamin C. You can find 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 effects. Papayas are also a good source of potassium, B vitamins, and folate, all of which are beneficial to your overall health. Like papayas, kiwis are naturally full of a ton of essential nutrients, including folate, potassium, vitamin K, and vitamin C. With all of these great fruit options available to boost the body's immune system, it should be no challenge to find something healthy that everyone in the family can enjoy!


Eat More Vegetables

Vegetables, fruits, seeds and nuts are loaded with nutrients that are essential for our immune system. Vegetables like Kale, Broccoli and Cabbage should be included in everyone's daily diet for a healthy liver, which works to ensure the body’s’ natural detoxification process work to its full potential. If you're thinking the above listed citrus fruits have the most vitamin C of any fruit or vegetable, think again. Ounce for ounce, red bell peppers contain twice as much vitamin C as citrus and are also a rich source of beta carotene which helps keep your eyes and skin healthy. Consider adding more red peppers to your meal planning and take look at the following nutrient rich veggies, too!

Broccoli is supercharged with vitamins and minerals! Packed with vitamins A, C, and E, as well as many other antioxidants and fiber, broccoli is one of the healthiest vegetables you can put on your table. The key to keeping its power intact is to cook it as little as possible — or better yet, not at all.

Ginger is another ingredient many turn to after getting sick. Ginger may help decrease inflammation, which can help reduce a sore throat and other inflammatory illnesses. Ginger may also help decrease nausea. While it's used in many sweet desserts, ginger packs some heat in the form of gingerol, a relative of capsaicin.

Spinach is not only rich in vitamin C, but also packed with numerous antioxidants and beta carotene which may increase the infection-fighting ability of our immune systems. Like broccoli, spinach is healthiest when it’s cooked as little as possible so that it retains its nutrients. However, light cooking enhances its vitamin A and allows other nutrients to be released from oxalic acid.

Mushrooms are nature’s way of breaking down organic matters to convert it into fertile soil. One of the healthiest foods on the planet, mushrooms are rich in essential nutrients and minerals. Throughout history, mushrooms have been used medicinally to fight infections and reduce disease. Modern research has shown that medical mushrooms provide a rich source of nutrients and bioactive compounds that are associated with several health effects, including supporting the immune system. Some of the mushrooms that are good for immune systems are — A Turkey tail mushroom, Maitake and Shiitake Mushrooms, Tremella Mushrooms.


Take Care of You, Don't Forget The Exercise!

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Working out on a regular basis has been scientifically proven to boost the immune system. Regular exercise mobilizes the T-cells, a type of white blood cell which guards the body against infection. There are many types of physical activity that can help boost the immune system such as swimming, running, dancing and walking. Many of these activities will also help get you moving outside, which is great for mental health too! Finding something you enjoy is helpful when building a routine - nobody wants to participate in activities they can't stand! While running may be great for some, others are more like a fish to water and find swimming to be best for their physical and mental health. The important thing to remember is that staying healthy doesn't require a gym membership - you can get your fitness needs fulfilled at home or outdoors in your community. Regular exercise has been shown reduce stress and anxiety, effectively boosting a person's mood and leading to a more positive sense of being. While energy levels and overall health are certainly boosted through effective exercise, continuous rigorous workouts when overdone can weaken the immune system, leaving you prone to flu and viral infections. The lesson to be learned here is the same as it is elsewhere – all good things in moderation.


Get Sufficient Sleep

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Lack of sleep can cause the inflammatory immune response to activate, reducing the activity of T cells in the body. This can weaken your immune system and your bodies response to vaccines. Regularly getting a good night's sleep is essential for heart health, too, along with weight control and even positive mental health. Try to sleep for 7–8 hours and avoid having an all-nighter. 

It's not always easy to keep up with positive habits but doing our best to maintain an awareness while working towards a healthy lifestyle may just be the best way to keep the common cold away. The next time you're shopping your local store, or produce department in particular, remember these suggestions and consider adding a number of healthy fruits and vegetables to your basket. Be healthy, stay healthy and inspire others towards positive health choices!