MHSC: 10 Ways to Build Your Immune System by Josie Ibarra

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10 Ways to Build Your Immune System

Josie Ibarra, RDN/LDN, Clinical Dietitian Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County

We’ve heard a lot lately about boosting our immune systems. Healthcare professionals in a variety of fields are targeting immune-boosting food and activity in order to promote better health.

Here are 10 way you can build your immune system:

  1. Eat Garlic. Immune cells became more active with garlic. If you don’t mind the garlic breath, use raw, crushed garlic — in everything – salad dressings, roasted vegetables, homemade hummus, etc.
  2. Get PRObiotics. Fermented foods such as kefir, kimchi, miso, yogurt and kombucha improve the immune response and increase production of immune cells. In addition, consume plenty of PREbiotic fiber such as artichokes, onion, garlic, asparagus, bananas, beans and jicama. When bacteria ferment this fiber in the gut, short-chain fatty acids are released which help to regulate other immune cells and the immune response.
  3. Lessen Sugar Intake. Choose whole fruit to satisfy your sweet tooth most of the time. Processed foods can negatively impact white blood cells’ defense mechanisms to guard the body against foreign invaders.
  4. Go Outside. Get at least 15 minutes of daily SPF-free (Sun Protection Factor-free) sun exposure and consume vitamin D-rich food sources such as salmon, canned tuna, cod liver oil, whole eggs, mushrooms are grown in ultra-violet light, and dairy/non-dairy fortified milks/juices.
  5. Spice Up your Platter. Make your own immune-boosting spice mix with turmeric, clove, coriander, and ginger. Even more encouraging is the ability of certain herbs and spices to reduce the formation of harmful compounds – carcinogenic and atherogenic – formed when meats are cooked at high temperatures, such as on a grill.
  6. Sleep Well. It’s the ultimate stress-fighting, immune-boosting strategy. Sleep deprivation can reduce the body’s ability to build up defenses against illness. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society recommends adults get seven or more hours of sleep each night. In addition to enough sleep, quality is important. A full night of sleep consists of cycling through the sleep stages: stage 1, 2, 3 and rapid eye movement sleep, or REM.
  7. Eat Zinc. Good sources of zinc include oysters, Alaskan king crab, lean beef, lean pork loin, beans and roasted cashews. Zinc primarily is involved in supporting the immune system. Zinc activates lymphocytes, or T-cells, and is crucial in mounting an immune response to resist disease and promote wound healing.
  8. Drink Plenty of Water. Get ahead of dehydration by drinking water throughout the day! The easiest way to achieve this is to keep a full water bottle with you or next to you and take frequent sips. We recommend 1 milliliter of fluid per 1 one calorie consumed. For example, 2000 calories consumed equals 2000 milliliter of fluid recommended.
  9. Savor Food. Get your nutrients from food when possible. Each food offers more than one nutrient, enjoy the pleasure of eating. However, when it comes to supplements, trust products labeled “Good Manufacturing Practices” (GMP) by NSF International, an organization that tests and audits nutritional supplements for quality standards.
  10. Adventure with New Recipes. I highly recommend frequently trying a new recipe from foodnutrition.org

References, Josie Ibarra, RDN/LDN, Clinical Dietitian at Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County. Food & Nutrition® is published by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals.


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