‘Tis the season – for colds, flu, and the continuation of the Covid-19 pandemic. By this point we all know to wash our hands, wear masks, and socially distance to help reduce the spread of germs, but what about boosting the immune system? Our immune system is designed to help prevent or limit infection within our body. When our immune system is working overtime without adequate support (i.e., proper nutrition) we are at a greater risk of one of those unwanted germs taking hold. By building a healthier immune system, we can help our bodies fight off many infections, and in cases where we still end up sick, having a healthier immune system can lend itself to lessening the severity of the illness.
There are a few easy ways you can start to boost your immune system as soon as today. These are not just tips for people with Parkinson’s but can benefit care partners, family, and everyone else to fight off infections this season.
Immune boosting properties can be found in various nutritional sources. These are listed below along with seasonal foods and ideas to help incorporate into your daily routine.
- Vitamin A – found in carrots, broccoli, spinach, and sweet potatoes. Roasted carrots and broccoli tossed with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper are an excellent winter dinner side dish. Swap out white potatoes with baked sweet potatoes for added flavor and nutrition. Add some spinach to your salad or sauté into eggs with breakfast.
- Vitamin C – is in citrus fruits such as oranges, tangerines (which come in several easy to peel varies such as Halos and Cuties), and lemon. Squeeze fresh lemon juice into hot tea or add orange wedges to any meal or snack.
- Vitamin E – prevalent in nuts and avocados. Add sliced avocado or a handful of walnuts to any salad for an immune and flavor enhancing boost.
- Zinc – found in nuts and poultry. Have a handful of almonds as a snack, or just keep adding walnuts to your spinach salad!
- Protein – sometimes overlooked by fruits and vegetables, but adequate protein will help keep your immune system strong. Good sources of protein include zinc rich poultry, eggs, and again nuts. Remember that spinach you added to your breakfast eggs?
- Hydration – in addition to consuming foods that are packed with nutrients, having adequate water intake is key. Being properly hydrated will help your body flush out toxins the immune system is working to fight off. Sometimes in the winter it can be harder to drink enough water, decaffeinated tea also works as a hydration source, just remember to add that lemon juice in!
- Sleep – getting a good night’s sleep allows the body to rest and rebuild to be ready to fight the next day strong.
- Looking for one recipe to give you the most bang for your buck? How about homemade chicken soup, be sure to load it up with lots of carrots, add in some spinach, and use a low sodium broth, or a spinach salad with roasted chicken, tangerine wedges, walnuts, and avocado.
- Check out frozen versions of vegetables such as broccoli and carrots to keep on hand and eliminate the risk of spoilage.