The first tip is about being conscious of your dietary choices and how they can influence your immune system.
That means cutting back on (or cutting out) sugar, refined carbohydrates, and processed foods. Why?
Sugar: Ramps up inflammation which can suppress your immune system.
Refined Carbohydrates: These break down into sugar when we digest them and have been stripped of many vitamins and fiber during the refining process.
Processed Foods: Many processed foods are high in both sugar and refined carbohydrates, which means they will turn up the inflammation and turn down your immune system, just like plain ol’ sugar.
Not sure what to avoid?
Start with staying away from sweetened beverages (soda, elaborate coffee drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks, fruit juice), chips, cookies, french fries and fried foods, pre-made meals and convenient store snacks, and sweetened dairy products.
So what can you eat?
Studies show that eating a healthy diet of leafy greens and good proteins supports your natural gut bacteria. Feeding the “good guys” helps them to to fend off the “bad guys.”
Chicken soup is the CLASSIC choice, but do you know why?
Chicken soup contains many ingredients that can help your body to fend off or fight off those bugs! Chicken stock made from a whole chicken with the bones makes a nice bone broth with collagen that helps decrease intestinal inflammation and contains minerals to support our immune systems. Other common ingredients also help support our immune system because they are naturally antimicrobial such as; garlic, onions, thyme, and oregano. Add some additional veggies to the soup and you’ve just made your own SUPERFOOD!
Other healthy choices are;
Include at least one vegetable with each meal.
Add lemon to water to improve the taste and get some extra vitamin C.
Swap out dessert for some fruit.
Eat the rainbow! (I don’t mean Skittles) Try adding lots of colorful foods to each meal.
Sources: Fawzi WW, Herrera MG, Willett WC, Nestel P, el Amin A, Mohamed KA. Dietary vitamin A intake and the incidence of diarrhea and respiratory infection among Sudanese children. The Journal of nutrition 1995;125:1211–21.
W Allan Walker, Linda C Duffy. Diet and bacterial colonization: role of probiotics and prebiotics. The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. 1998, 9(12), 668–675