How Diet and Nutrition Helps Immunity

October 30, 2020
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Current times have fundamentally altered the way in which we live our lives. We are staying in our homes more and more, and this inertia can result in the development of health problems. Even though we need to keep our bodies functioning optimally as we age, indulging in any kind of outdoor physical activities now becomes more cumbersome due to the colder weather. Taking into account that hindrance, it becomes important that we pay closer attention to what we are eating. Poor diet and excess weight are key factors that can depress the immune system. Therefore, eating a healthy, well-balanced diet is necessary to maintain a healthy weight and provides the nutrition that allows our body to enhance immunity.  

Nutrition 

There are several nutrients responsible for keeping us healthy, and even those that even get overlooked such as Vitamin D. 

Most prominently, a nutritious diet must contain Vitamin A (that is available in sweet potato and spinach), Vitamin C (that can be found in berries, tomatoes and peppers),  Zinc (that could be obtained from dairy products) and Vitamin D (which we can get the most naturally from the sun).

At the end of the day, it is the immune system that is responsible for combatting a multitude of viruses and microbial infections. That said, we must keep ourselves healthy in order to do so. And depending upon the kind of diet we have, we can either strengthen our immune system or weaken it. 

A healthy diet during the winter

What is also essential for us, especially during the winter, is to follow a low-calorie diet and get regular exercise. Given that many of us are experiencing little to no physical activity during the cold winter months, we should consume food with fewer calories and higher proteins in order to maintain good health. Additionally, being that outdoor physical activity is limited, sources of natural vitamin D will obviously be decreased as well. But some form of exercise or physical activity should still be a priority to keep metabolism at its prime, and so as to not add on additional weight.

What comprises a healthy diet?

A healthy diet consists of a number of different foods that have diverse nutritional value. These include foods such as meat, vegetables, and fruits. Cereals like wheat, rice, barley, and rye; Starch-rich roots such as potato, yam, taro, or cassava; and legumes like lentils and beans are also essential to include in a healthy diet. Apart from these, foods such as fish, milk, and other animal products, along with sprouts, salad, and especially leafy green vegetables are also essential components of a healthy diet.

A healthy, nutritional diet is instrumental for good health. It will strengthen your immune system, helping to fight off several chronic, non-communicable diseases, for instance, heart disease, diabetes, skin irritations, and even inflammation. The body’s largest organ is the skin, which is  also directly affected by the foods we consume. Our overall systems, internally and externally, benefit by switching to a healthy diet and avoiding consuming large quantities of salty, sugary, saturated fats, and processed foods. With so many bad options put in front of you on a daily basis, this is most easily achieved by preparing meals at home. 

Things to remember while cooking:

The benefits of cooking at home, first and foremost, you control what ingredients go into what you make. You will always know that you’re fueling yourself with the best and most nutritious ingredients. A few things to keep in mind, as you prepare your food every day:

  • Resort to straightforward cooking techniques (steam, bake, grill, roast) that do not involve processed ingredients. Make sure the food you eat is clean and rich in nutrition. The cleaner, more natural the food, the greater the benefit.
  • Including herbs and spices in your food, not only add flavor, but many also carry antimicrobial properties, such as garlic, cumin, ginger, mint, turmeric, and others. This also helps deter the use of excess salt, which can lead to high blood pressure. 
  • Keep meals interesting. Get creative by experimenting with different recipes or even looking to social media for new ideas. Finding healthy food blogs and instagram accounts can help you find recipes and get you excited to try different foods and make new meals.  
  • Juicing has a variety of benefits, including greater concentration of nutrients per ounce, increased consumption of fruits and vegetables, and enhanced absorption of nutrients. As a plus, it may also help people who have difficulty eating enough vegetables to enjoy the taste. The same applies to soups, which during the cold months are a welcome meal.

During these cold dreary days, it is easy to put off physical activity and eat unhealthy foods. However, as it does always catch up with us, it is essential to bring some discipline in your dietary habits. Going back to basics by eating clean, nutrient-rich but exciting food is key. A proper diet will allow you to gradually improve and maintain your overall immunity, enabling you to help manage weight and in turn help keep your body functioning at its optimal best.

 

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