EATING FOR STRONG IMMUNITY
1 Snack smarter by focusing on nutrient- dense foods: Research shows that regularly munching on healthy foods can help enhance immune function and may even contribute to a longer life, while less healthy fare can compromise your defenses. A few options: 2 Focus on fats— specifi cally monounsaturated and omega- 3 fats, both of which help to tame systemic infl ammation and free your immune system to defend against pathogens. Scientists have known for some time that diets high in unhealthy fats impair immunity by decreasing the function of T- cells. What’s more, good- for- you fats help your body absorb fat- soluble nutrients such as vitamins A, D, and E.
Enjoy more almonds, avocados, and olive oil ( rich in monounsaturated fats), as well as salmon, halibut, sardines, and other cold- water fi sh ( high in omega- 3 fats). In general, healthy fats should make up roughly 30 percent of your daily caloric intake. 3 Add a side of leafy greens. Newer research in the journal Nature Immunology shows that leafy greens ( e. g., spinach, collard greens, and Swiss chard) help the body produce innate lymphoid cells ( ILCs), digestive immune cells that play an important role in protecting the body from infection. Need “green” recipe ideas? Visit Jessica Nadel’s popular blog, Cupcakes and Kale at cupcakesandkale. ca. 4 Make sure that you’re getting enough protein. The amino acids in protein form the building blocks of all the body’s cells, including your immune cells. If you don’t eat enough protein, you’ll manufacture fewer white blood cells to combat antigens. How much is enough? The general rule of thumb is to consume 0.8– 1 gram of protein per kilogram ( kg) of body weight. 5 Think oats for your heart— and your immune system. The fi ber in oats activates NK cells, thanks to their high beta- glucan content. Oats are also a great source of vitamin E and B vitamins. Steel- cut oats boast twice the beta- glucan as rolled oats. 6 Eat more shiitake mushrooms. Beta- glucans in shiitakes help guard against everyday ailments, but the mushrooms have also shown marked anticarcinogenic activity, according to research presented in the journal Nutrition Reviews. 7 Enjoy Brazil nuts. These high- fat, satisfying nuts are one of the best food sources of selenium, a mineral that plays a key role in immune health, including fl u prevention and reduced cancer risk. They are best stored in the fridge. 8 Start juicing. Carly de Castro, one of the founders of the Los Angeles- based chain Pressed Juicery, transformed her health simply by adding a green juice to her daily regimen. De Castro, along with Hedi Gores and Hayden Slater, shares her full story, juicing tips, and collection of recipes in the new book Juice. Their Immunity Elixir is just what the doctor ordered for cold and fl u prevention:
9 Consider going Paleo. “Humans should mimic the diet followed by people during the Paleolithic era,” says Mariel Lewis, in her book Paleo Smoothies. “During this time the human diet focused on eating high- protein foods ( a low- glycemic diet), fruits and vegetables ( containing healthy phytochemicals, vitamins, and minerals, which tend to promote proper immune function and make you healthier), and long- chain omega- 3 fatty acids ( which calm down infl ammation).” Here’s a creamy treat from Lewis’ book to get you started— you won’t miss the sugar or dairy. 10 Have a cuppa the leafy stuff . In a Harvard study, people who drank 5 cups of black tea per day for two weeks had 10 times more virus- fi ghting interferon in the blood than others who drank a placebo hot beverage. 11 Use 100% whey protein powder. Whey protein can help fi ght off colds and fl u because it boasts beta- glucans and immunoglobulins— two building blocks that protect your immune system. Try: Bluebonnet Nutrition Whey Protein Isolate in Natural French Vanilla Flavor. 12 Feast on pomegranate. The seeds and the juice contain high levels of antioxidant compounds that have been shown to deter the growth of certain cancer cells. The juice, in particular, provides the most concentrated source of antioxidants. Visit betternutrition. com to download three pomegranate recipes created by world- renowned chefs, including Marinated Fennel and Pomegranate Salad with Ricotta, Walnuts, and Fennel Pollen. 13 Bolster immune- boosting bacteria in your gut. Fermented foods such as kefi r, sauerkraut, and kimchi can help reduce gastrointestinal woes and boost resistance to respiratory bugs, say Polish researchers. 14 Season fi sh and poultry dishes with citrus zest. Citrus boasts antimicrobial properties and adds a nutritional punch of vitamin C and fl avonoids with anti- infl ammatory capabilities. 15 Drink up! Staying hydrated helps immune cells function properly. Opt for half your body weight in ounces of pure water every day. 16 Sip some soup, especially chicken soup, if you’re sick. It’s not just an old wives’ tale: A study in the journal Chest shows that even store- bought chicken soup helps block infl ammatory cells and thin mucus. 17 Tune in to some soothing tunes. Research shows that listening to nature- based music for just 30 minutes increases the immune system’s production of illness- fi ghting immunoglobulin A ( IgA). 18 Sleep well. During a trial at the University of Chicago, students who were limited to just four hours of sleep per night for six nights made only half of the normal number of antibodies after receiving a seasonal fl u shot. If you’re having trouble getting enough zzzs, try melatonin— it’s a powerful antioxidant that helps enhance the response of the immune system’s T- helper cells and also regulates infl ammation. 19 Avoid smoky environments, whenever possible. Not only does tobacco smoke trigger infl ammation, but it also raises the risk of upper respiratory infections. 20 Take a walk. Starting your day with a brisk, 30- minute walk can get you energized and jump- start your immune system. 21 Make your own household sanitizer. Mix 8 oz. of water and 30 drops of rosemary or tea tree essential oil. Pour in a spray bottle and use on doorknobs, phones, cutting boards, or any place viruses are likely to linger. 22 LOL. Researchers at Indiana State University in Terre Haute have found that a good belly laugh boosts natural killer cell activity and increases overall immune function. To get these benefi ts, watch a funny TV show or movie. According to the American Film Institute, Some Like It Hot, Tootsie, Dr. Strangelove, Annie Hall, and Duck Soup are the fi ve funniest movies of all time.