Healthcare experts are warning us that COVID-19 isn’t the only virus that will challenge our immune system this year. We will likely be hit with a "tripledemic" that includes a severe cold and flu season, as well as COVID-19. On top of this trio, we have an uptick of RSV that is threatening our children with respiratory illness.
While getting vaccinated is one of the ways to prepare yourself for the triple whammy, stoking your immune system with disease-fighting foods is another way to stave off disease.
“If you are looking to keep your immune system strong against colds, germs, and other illnesses, fill up on whole foods like colorful produce, lean protein, low-fat dairy, and whole grains.” Amy Goodson, a registered dietitian, tells Eat This, Not That!.
Here are some suggestions on what to eat to prepare your body:
• Antioxidants. Eat plenty of foods rich in flavonoids, anthocyanins, and carotenoids that help fight free radicals that potentially cause damage to your cells, says Goodson. Flavonoids are found in berries, kale, cabbage, dark chocolate, tea, and soybeans. Colorful berries, grapes, pomegranates, and even red wine contain anthocyanins. Carotenoids are found in orange, yellow and red produce like summer squash, pumpkin, mango, and apricots.
• Vitamin C. This superpower helps build up your immune system which is why many healthcare providers recommend taking vitamin C at the first sign of a cough, cold or flu. Vitamin C is helpful in the production of white blood cells, which is the body’s major defense against disease. Red bell peppers, citrus fruit and strawberries are good sources.
• Zinc. Besides vitamin C, zinc is another top immune-boosting nutrient. Foods that are high in zinc include red meat and shellfish, like oysters, crab, mussels, and shrimp. For vegans, the best food sources include legumes, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds or sesame seeds. Luckily, dark chocolate is another good source of zinc. You can also take a supplement like Reset Immunity Shot that contains zinc, vitamin C, vitamin D3, and magnesium to ward off the tripledemic.
• Nuts and seeds. Trista Best, a registered dietitian and consultant with Balance One Supplements says that adding immune-boosting snacks along with your meals is an “excellent way to integrate nutrients that protect against illness.” Trade out your chips and popcorn for nuts and seeds like almonds, walnuts, pumpkin and sunflower seeds. These foods contain many vitamins that help regulate and support the immune system such as magnesium, selenium, B6, and phosphorus.
• Fermented foods. Best says that eating fermented foods, such as yogurt with live active cultures, kefir, sauerkraut, pickles, apple cider vinegar, miso and kimchi provides probiotics that support immune function.
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