Numerous studies and research have shown that maintaining a healthy diet is a key component to maintaining your overall health. However, when people look to strengthen their immune system (especially during a pandemic), many first turn to nutritional supplements before considering whole foods and alternate diet choices. Boosting your immune system and increasing your intake of vital micronutrients such as vitamin C, calcium, vitamin B, magnesium, zinc and selenium can easily be accomplished by making a few changes to your diet. Per Harvard Health Letter, published by Harvard Medical School, while supplements can provide some benefits to bridge small gaps in nutrient intake or for those with nutrient deficiencies, “nutrients are most potent when they come from food” and have the added benefit of additional minerals and antioxidants not found in a pill.
So, what food should you be eating to help boost the immune system? A whole foods diet approach, like the one we take at NutriFit, is a good start. Begin by cutting out highly processed food, refined sugar and limiting red meat in your diet. Your meals should feature plenty of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean protein, legumes and healthy fats from nuts, seeds, soybeans and olives. Make sure to keep hydrated and drink plenty of water throughout the day as well. Sleep and stress, while not always controllable, are also important factors in regulating immune responses.(4) Be sure to manage your sodium intake as well. A combination Mediterranean and DASH diet have been shown to potentially reduce the risk for multiple disease including colorectal cancer, hypertension, and heart disease. (2) (3) The recommendations outlined above are also important components of an anti-inflammatory diet. Reducing inflammation
From our own experience – balance is key in maintaining a healthy diet long term. Make manageable changes over a longer period of time if need be. Begin by cutting out processed food, then swapping unhealthy snacks for fruits, vegetables or nuts. Find healthy foods and recipes that you like and substitute for clear unfavorites. Following a healthy diet not only helps with building a stronger immune system but also reducing your risk for other health problems.
Feel like you need some help? At NutriFit, we design our meals to be nutritionally balanced and follow the Mediterranean and DASH diets. Additionally, we regularly prepare meals for immuno-compromised patients and those with specific health conditions including anti-inflammatory plans for those with arthritis, diabetics and renal patients.