Are you trying to boost your immune system?
Since the beginning of the global pandemic, there has been an urgent curiosity surrounding health and wellness. There is nothing like a bit of fear to get us motivated to take personal responsibility for our health. What can I do to boost my immune system and be better prepared?
Below, I have provided a few vital immunity-boosting ingredients you may want to consider for your arsenal.
But first, keep in mind that your immune system is just that; A system that requires balance and harmony to function optimally. What strategies are you implementing to bolster your systems concordance? Because a healthy lifestyle is your number one line of defense. It's no surprise that nutrition and exercise are top of mind when staying healthy. Are you getting enough sleep, minimizing alcohol consumption, avoiding smoking, and finding ways to reduce stress? Are you finding time to play?
Five Notable Immunity Boosters
Contrary to its name, Vitamin D is a hormone and an integral part of immune system strength. 42% of the US population is deficient in this powerhouse vitamin. Vitamin D is known to ward off colds and flu, lessen fatigue and prevent loss of bone mass, and adequate levels can help boost your mood, not just your immune system. I recommend testing your levels if possible. A few foods that contain Vitamin D are salmon, tuna, sardines, cereal, and orange juice.
This anti-viral mineral is crucial for the normal development and function of cells. It helps the immune system combat invading bacteria and viruses by preventing cell replication. Zinc cannot be stored and thus should be consumed daily (may cause upset stomach so take at night). Note that zinc deficiency affects nearly two billion people worldwide. Many foods contain Zinc, but here are a few possibilities; oysters, crab, beans, pumpkin seeds, oatmeal, and yogurt.
3. Turmeric (Curcumin)
Turmeric is part of the ginger family and gives curry its golden color. The active compound is curcumin, a powerful antioxidant and thus a potent anti-inflammatory. It helps fight foreign invaders and helps to repair both the body and the brain. Curcumin also helps the body to absorb Zinc. Considering the root of all diseases is inflammation, curcumin is part of my daily health regime. To increase bioavailability, make sure your supplement contains black pepper, which helps with absorption. If you don't want to take a supplement, I say order some Indian food. Yum!
Glutamine is the primary fuel source for the body's lymphocytes, white blood cells that fight infection and disease. Not only does it help detoxify the liver of foreign substances, but it also helps with muscle recovery time. Since the gut is considered the largest organ in the immune system, Glutamine's ability to protect gut function supports overall immunity. Our bodies make Glutamine, but in times of stress, the body needs more. Seawater fish contain more Glutamine than freshwater but can also be found in plenty of non-seafood options. Additional sources are Grass-fed meat, red cabbage, eggs, yogurt, nuts, beans, and parsley, to name a few.
5. Vitamin C
Vitamin C may prevent and treat respiratory and systemic infections and is an absolute immunity superpower. It is an essential micronutrient and potent antioxidant. It also contributes to immune defense by supporting cellular function. Vitamin C has demonstrated reducing the severity and preventing infection upon onset. What comes to mind when thinking about how to ingest more vitamin C is by way of citrus, but many foods contain this valuable source of immune defense. Try dark leafy greens like spinach, bell peppers, strawberries, broccoli, kiwi, tomatoes, and pineapple.
Every body functions differently, as do your individual needs. None of us are perfect, and where is the fun in that anyway? But, should you suspect that your diet isn't providing you with the micronutrients you may need to boost your immune system, consider taking a multivitamin and mineral supplement. If possible, have your overall nutrient levels tested. And always check with your doctor when adding supplements to your diet.
Writer Allison Quistgard Scherer is an Integrative Health Coach and serves on the Sun Valley Wellness Festival Board of Directors.