You know your gut helps you absorb nutrients from your food. But did you know it also plays an important role in your immune system? Eating a nutritionally balanced diet helps keep your immune system in its best shape. There is even chatter in the scientific world that the gut microbiome (the normal bacteria living in your gut to help you digest your food) may play its own role in immunity, though exactly what that role is and how it works remains a mystery.
With COVID an unwelcome edition to our world, a healthy immune system is more important than ever.
Here are some foods which may boost your immune system:
- Bell peppers
- Tea (green, black, various herbal types)
- Citrus fruits, such as oranges, clementines, grapefruit, or tangerines
- Dark chocolate
- Sweet potatoes
What do these foods have in common? Almost all are plant-based and can be classified as a fruit or vegetable.
You’ve heard “eat your fruit and veggies” since you were a child. In fact, you’ve probably heard it so many times, you want to tune out right now. Don’t.
Let’s take a whole new look at eating fruits and veggies in a sustainable, easy way, understanding that putting good nutrition into your body is vitally important right now.
Salads aren’t just rabbit food.
Salads are a great way to get a variety of different vegetables in your diet as either a side dish or the main meal. Think outside the lettuce-tomato-cucumber-carrot salad box and get creative. Is now the time to make half of your greens spinach instead of iceberg lettuce? Or sneak some kale in there? How about chopping broccoli into bite-size florets, or tossing in diced red bell pepper? You could add cooked black beans, a handful of almonds, or freshly grated cheese to the top, or maybe vary the flavors by incorporating Greek or Middle Eastern spices. The sky is the limit. Be creative.
Veggies beyond salads…
Sometimes it can seem like the only way to eat vegetables is a salad. Nothing could be further from the truth. Try adding chopped or sliced veggies to stir fry, pasta, or casserole. Or perhaps a mixture of sautéed vegetables is the side dish you need for dinner tonight.
Aim for at least one serving of fruit or vegetables with every meal.
To achieve the variety of foods we need to keep us optimally healthy, there really shouldn’t ever be a meal without at least one serving of fruit and/or vegetables.
Sneak fruit into your diet.
Chopping fruit to toss into your breakfast cereal or oatmeal is a great way to get a serving of fruit in without even realizing it. Eating some fruit with a little bit of dark chocolate makes for a tasty after-dinner treat. And don’t forget avocado is technically a fruit – avocado goes well on salads, sandwiches, as garnish, or as a snack on its own. Try substituting fruit for dessert – it can help cut sugar cravings with natural sugars and its high fiber content helps you feel and stay full. Want to go on a culinary adventure without leaving your local area? Go to a specialty grocery store and pick out a new fruit to try. You might find your new favorite food!
Consider going vegetarian or vegan one meal a day.
This is a great way to try new recipes and explore new ways to eat fruits and vegetables. You might be surprised how filling and tasty a plant-based meal can be.
Soups are your friend, even on warm days.
If you’re choosing a pre-made soup, look for something that is chock full of vegetables. If you’re making your own soup, throw in those veggies! And don’t underestimate the appeal of cold soup on hot summer days.
In these stressful times, a lot of us aren’t really at our best. We have a lot on our minds, which can make it easy to snap at others unintentionally. Stress weakens our immune systems and adding conflict to the mix isn’t helpful. Let’s decide together that what comes out of our mouths will be words of gratitude, joy, and kindness in spite of COVID turning our lives upside down. Let’s decrease our own stress while also helping someone else decrease theirs. Win-win!