With cold and flu season upon us, it’s important to do what we can to avoid sickness. Regular hand-washing is a must, but the foods you eat can also help keep you protected. Here are the vitamins and minerals that give your immune system a boost as well as the foods you can find them in:
Beef, fortified cereals, egg yolks, cashews
Sweet potatoes, kale, carrots, tuna, butternut squash, spinach
Bell peppers, kiwi, strawberries, oranges, broccoli
Salmon, oysters, shrimp, egg yolks
•Selenium/White Blood Cell Production
Eggs, mushrooms, kefir, oysters, lobster, Brazil nuts
The journey to healthy habits starts when you buy your groceries. What you buy will be what you eat, which determines how you and your family feel. That's a lot of pressure! But here are some quick tips to help keep everything on track:
- Make a list
Go in with a plan and stick to it. This will help save you money and avoid buying unhealthy items.
- Don’t shop hungry
Grocery shopping while hungry is a bad idea. You’re more likely to buy foods that trigger reward responses (highly processed items/snacks) and may buy more than you really need.
- Shop the perimeter
Buying foods from the outside perimeter of a grocery store means stocking up on fresh, whole foods...and that’s always a good idea.
- Check the dates
Make sure the food you’re buying isn’t expired to avoid getting sick from it or having to make another trip to the store to return it.
- Enjoy seasonal produce
Keep meals interesting by working in seasonal produce. For Summer that could mean corn and tomatoes and then squash and brussels sprouts in the Fall.
We love sweet potatoes. This versatile, orange root vegetable can be enjoyed a variety of ways including baked whole, smashed, or cut up as fries. They are delicious but also offer several health benefits. Let’s take a look:
• Full of vitamins and minerals
One cup of baked sweet potato with skin contains 180 calories, 41g carbs, 4g protein, 6.6g fiber, 769% of your daily value (DV) of vitamin A, 65% DV vitamin C, 50% DV manganese, along with 15-25% of B6, potassium, copper, and niacin. Needless to say, it's a very diverse nutrition profile.
• Healthy Vision
Beta-carotene, which gives sweet potatoes their bright color, can also support eye health and prevent vision loss when it’s converted to vitamin A in your body. This vitamin helps support the formation of light-detecting receptors in your eyes.
• Gut Health
Two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble, are found in sweet potatoes. These can’t be digested by your body and help to keep you regular as well as feed healthy gut bacteria and keep intestinal linings strong.
• Immunity Boost
Vitamin A and beta-carotene are critical to a healthy immune system and sweet potatoes have almost 7 times your daily requirement. It reduces inflammation in your gut and keeps it able to fight off disease-causing pathogens that attack your digestive system.
• Brain Boost
Sweet potatoes of the purple variety have been shown to enhance memory and learning in mice. The high amounts of antioxidants reduce inflammation and prevent free-radical damage in the brain. Studies are yet to be done with humans and this vegetable specifically, but we already know diets rich in antioxidants can reduce the chance of dementia by 13%.
As soon as you start eating, your body gets to work breaking things down into usable states. There are many processes that take place and the food you eat can help make things easier. Here are some foods that aid digestion:
Fiber is one of the keys to healthy digestion in general. If you aren’t used to eating large amounts of fiber, it’s best to start with soluble fiber such as oatmeal, apples, and bananas and slowly increase fiber intake by one serving every 4 days.
• Leafy Greens
Packed with nutrients that support digestion, leafy greens also help feed healthy gut bacteria. Think spinach, kale, and collard greens.
Available as powder, slices, or freshly grated, ginger helps to reduce GI inflammation and can relieve bloating and nausea.
• Unsaturated Fats
These fats pair up with fiber to keep you regular and also help you absorb vitamins from things you eat. Olive oil is an easy way to add this fat to your diet.
• Vegetables with Skin
Vegetables are always a good choice and if you can eat them whole, skin included, the fiber content is even better. Examples of this include potatoes, black beans, and garbanzo beans.
Usually high in fiber and vitamins that help with digestion such as potassium and Vitamin C, fruit should be part of your daily digestion regimen.
• Whole Grains
Grains that are whole and not refined get broken down slower, which helps regulate blood sugar. They’re also higher in fiber and that’s always helpful for digestion. Go with whole grains when choosing bread and buns.
• Yogurt & Kefir
These dairy products contain probiotics that act as helpful gut bacteria.