Every year, there is a list of trends that pop up within the health and wellness space. One trend that will always be buzzworthy though is immune health. Today, more than ever, people seek to find ways to create, maintain and boost a healthy immune system. With that said, read on.
The immune system is a complex network of cells, organs, and structures that defend the body against bacteria, disease, and infection. Although our immune systems are naturally well equipped to defend and protect our bodies all on their own, there are a few things we can do every day to help strengthen and support our overall immune health.
You can make immune system health a central part of your daily routine with these five super simple tips to help strengthen and support your immune system all year long.
#1 Eat Nutrient Dense Food
Eating nutrient-dense foods and superfoods for the immune system is a delicious way to support overall immune health. Focus on foods like fermented foods, fibrous foods, fresh fruits, and vegetables as well as foods that are naturally high in Vitamin C. Fermented foods that contain probiotics can impact a person’s overall health, while prebiotic foods, like bananas and oats, can help strengthen the immune system.
#2 Focus on Gut Health
Over 70% of the immune system lies within the gut, which is why gut health is an important factor to consider when supporting our immune system. One of the best ways to support gut health, and thereby strengthening the immune system, is by focusing on digestion. This means mindfully eating by slowly chewing food with each and every bite and reducing sugar consumption, which can be inflammatory.
Another easy way to improve gut health, and potentially immune health, is by drinking and eating more sources of fiber. Dietary fiber is the part of plant-based food that mostly passes through our digestive system without breaking down or being digested. The USDA recommends daily fiber amounts for adults up to age 50 at 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men, while women and men older than 50 should have 21 and 30 daily grams respectively. Unfortunately, the average American only consumes about 10-15 grams of total fiber per day.
Incorporating more high-fiber foods into our daily diets and regular routines is a delicious way to support gut health and immune health.
Water helps keep our bodies hydrated, which in turn allows our body’s cells and systems to run optimally. Hydration is also key to maintaining a healthy body composition, which is why it is important to sip water throughout the day. Give your glass of good old H20 an immune boost with foods that are naturally high in vitamin C. Think of fruits like grapefruit, kiwi, orange, and strawberries. Not only is hydration important, but it is also important to focus on supplying the body with enough electrolytes.
Electrolytes are essential for our cells and organs to function properly. They balance the amount of water in our bodies and control our pH levels. In order to make sure we receive an adequate amount of daily electrolytes, focus on foods that are naturally high in electrolytes. Foods like bananas, coconut water, and yogurt are all great options. Plus, they pair perfectly with your favorite flavor of It’s NOLA to make an easy and delicious snack.
#4 Reduce Stress
Our immune systems are always hard at work defending our cells from foreign invaders, which is why it is important to help our bodies by reducing stress as much as possible. Whether it is immersing yourself in community with family and friends, meditation, or spending time in Mother Nature, downshifting is an important lifestyle factor to help protect immune health.
Need some ideas on how you can reduce stress? Here are some of our favorite self-care rituals to help maintain balance and overcome stress. (You’re welcome).
Sleep is incredibly important to proper health, including immune health. Make sure you clock 6-8 hours of quality sleep every night. If catching some quality zzz’s is challenging, consider adopting a nighttime routine to help you relax. Try one or all of these to help you unwind at the end of the day:
- Apply some essential oils
- Complete an easy and gentle yoga routine
- Curl up with a good book
- Do some light stretching
- Light a few candles
- Take a bubble bath
- Turn off all electronic devices 1-2 hours before bed
Immune Boosting Recipes:
Looking for some easy and delicious immune-boosting recipes to add to your weekly menu rotation? Here are some of our favorites to enjoy:
- Recipe #1 - Smoothie (single serve)
1/2 Cup almond milk (sweet or unsweetened or swap for another plant- based milk)
1 Cup spinach (wash thoroughly) (You can use kale instead or add both)
3/4 Cups frozen mango, pineapple, kiwi (or use fresh fruit - just be sure sure add 3 ice cubes before you blend)
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1/2 lemon juice
- Recipe #2 - Berry Salad with Cilantro (4-servings)
1 cup of strawberries
1 cup of blueberries
1 cup of blackberries
1 cup of raspberries
1/4 cup fresh cilantro (chopped)
Dressing: 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice, 1 tablespoon lime juice and a half tsp agave or another plant-based sweetener you love. Whisk and pour over mixed fruit. Eat with a dollop of plant-based yogurt.
- Recipe #3 - Veggie Soup (2-servings)
3 carrots (chopped)
3 celery stalks (chopped)
1 cup of baby spinach (wash thoroughly)
1 cup of mushrooms (cremini)
1 red bell pepper (chopped)
1 bay leaf
1 garlic clove (minced)
1/2 tsp ginger (minced)
32 oz vegetable stock (I also add powdered vegetarian stock 1tsp Seitenbacher is the brand.)
Slow cook the ingredients in the vegetable stock. Check to make sure you don't overcook them. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Stay Healthy and Happy
Need some new recipe ideas to help support your immune health? Check out @MBVeganShare or join our CEO live @itsnolasnack every other Sunday when she shares some delicious and nutritious vegan recipes. Don’t worry, even if you aren’t vegan, you will still enjoy these dishes.
Tag us @itsnolasnack so we can see how you enjoy supporting your immune health.