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Top Tips to Boost Your Immunity

While many people may find themselves succumbing to the common cold and other respiratory illnesses that are so prevalent in the winter, there are several things you can do (and not do) to help keep yourself in top form. Some may not even seem to be an important part of staying healthy, but they are.

When it comes to averting sickness, even while all-around you people might be coughing, sneezing and blowing their noses, successfully running the gauntlet of flu season may be simply a matter of keeping your immune system boosted by applying a few key health strategies. Besides going to school and work, times your immune system might be especially compromised include when you travel or are sleep deprived or stressed out. These are times you want to make sure your immune system is at its best.

Nutrition may be the most vital component in maintaining — or gaining — a healthy immune system. It makes all the difference in the way your body fights off germs, but just as importantly, plays an important role in more minute functions like helping tissues repair and rebuild themselves and how your body reclaims flagging energy.

Foods (and the Nutrients Therein) to Boost Your Immune System

Not just vitamins and minerals, but proteins like collagen and free radical-fighting antioxidants can be introduced to your body through the foods you eat, and play vital roles in helping to keep your body functioning at its best. As the Chicago Tribune observes:

“Collagen and its amino acids are essential to healing because they build tissues such as skin, muscles, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, blood vessels, bones and more. Antioxidants remove the harmful free radicals from the bloodstream that can impair the immune system, and vitamins and minerals play specialized roles in healing.”1

In the same way that cross training can keep your body fit and toned by working groups of different muscles, eating a variety of foods will target and work toward healing and restoring many different areas of your body, from your brain to your gut to your immune system. Protein found in lean meats, bone broth, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds help your body repair tissue and fight infection. Studies show that amino acids in protein, such as arginine and glutamine, increase your body’s ability to heal and decrease inflammation.2

Vitamins and Minerals to the Immune System Rescue

Eating foods chock-full of vitamins is an excellent way to strengthen your immune system to stay healthy all season:

  • Vitamin A boosts immunity, lowers your risk of infection and supports wound healing through collagen strength. Snack on carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, dark leafy greens, cantaloupe, wild-caught Alaskan salmon, organic pastured eggs and grass fed beef.
  • Vitamin D plays a big part in immune health and can be found in limited quantities in raw grass fed milk, wild-caught Alaskan salmon and organic pastured eggs, but the ideal way to optimize your levels is via sunshine
  • Some of the most vitamin C-rich foods include citrus fruits, from tangerines to limes, along with leafy greens, bell peppers and broccoli. Berries are another great source, and they all provide this and other potent antioxidants, which support your immune response and help to rebuild collagen.

Vitamin K1, important for healthy blood clotting, is abundant in dark leafy green vegetables. Vitamin K2 refers to a collection of bacterial menaquinones (MKs) that are found in a variety of different foods, namely animal foods and fermented foods. MK-4 is most abundant in animal foods while you can find MK-7, MK-8 and MK-9 in fermented foods.

Important for collagen production, zinc is another protective antioxidant that helps create and activate your immune system’s white blood cells and is essential in the enzymatic reactions needed for wound healing. Zinc-containing foods include grass fed red meat (optimal amounts per day range from 5 to 7 ounces), pastured, organic chicken, spinach, nuts and pumpkin seeds.

Selenium is another powerful antioxidant for immune system protection, found in Brazil nuts and organic, grass fed beef, turkey and chicken. In addition, as important as any food you eat, drinking adequate water is vital for flushing food through your system, flushing toxins and keeping your body hydrated. Many turn to so-called “sports drinks” for hydrating while working out, but clear, pure water is the ideal beverage.

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