Eating to Boost Your Immune System

Coming off of the pandemic, we were all hoping for a healthy few years, but it seems like everyone has the flu, strep, mono or some “unnamed virus” right now. You’ve taken your kids for their flu shots, you’ve stocked up on antibacterial soap and you’ve instructed your children to cough in their sleeve, to not share any drinks and to run for the hills when someone sneezes. But, is the food they are eating also helping to prevent the illnesses so prevalent at this time of year? Providing your family with foods known to boost the immune system will go a long way toward fighting off cold and flu causing germs. Increase foods rich in antioxidants. Foods with high levels of beta-carotene, vitamin C and vitamin E.

Our mango and kale salad is a perfect immune booster.

These foods will boost your immune system, and we included some recipes to spark some ideas.

• Broccoli: Broccoli & Cauliflower with lemon and chives

• Carrots: Roasted Rainbow Carrots

• Corn: Corn Basil Salad or Cabbage Corn Slaw

• Peaches: Peach, Proscuitto & Arugula SaladRustic Peach Tart

• Sweet potato: Sweet Potato fries, Chipotle Mashed Sweet Potatoes

• Tomatoes: Stacked Tomato SaladTomato Corn Pie Dreamy Creamy Tomato Soup

• Mango: Mango, Kale & Quinoa SaladFish Tacos with Mango Salsa

• Peppers: Three Pepper RisottoHearty Pepper, Potato & Sausage Roast

• Berries: Make a Berry Smoothie, a Berry Breakfast Bowl. Would a Berry Mojito count?


Zinc and selenium are also known to aid in immune health. They can be found in:
• Red Meat: Steak Salad
• Poultry: One Skillet Mediterranean Chicken
• Fortified Cereals and BreadsL: Try Ezekiel Bread
• Shellfish: Why shrimp is good for you.

One Skillet Mediterranean Chicken

 

 

Yogurt is a great source of probiotics.

Studies show garlic is great at fighting off the common cold.
Try our Rustic Tomato Garlic Soup


Try our hummus and veggie sandwich.

Tips:
• Serve veggies raw.
 Keep them on hand at all times. When kids are hungry, they will grab what is accessible. Raw vegetables provide more nutrients than cooked ones.

• Offer a variety of food. Variety ensures your kids are getting all the vitamins they need and will help to develop their palate, so they enjoy a lifetime of healthy eating.

• Cut down on sugary snacks and eliminate sugary drinks. Sugar can decrease the body’s ability to fight off infection. Try to reserve treats for special occasions.

• It is o.k. to doctor vegetables with butter or cheese once in a while. While this may not be the healthiest way to ingest produce, it will allow a picky eater to get their daily dose and will get them used to the taste and texture.

• Increase water intake. Just because they are not out in the hot sun anymore, doesn’t mean they can’t dehydrate. Ensure your kids get enough water every day by encouraging them to have an 8 ounce glass first thing in the morning and before each meal or snack. Keep a pitched of fruit-infused water on your counter.

• Make sure they are getting enough sleep. (Find out how much sleep kids need.)

• Regular exercise is important to maintaining a healthy immune system.

• Be in tune to your child’s stress levels. Even young children can suffer from stress, which can decrease the effectiveness of their immune system.

Speaking of stress, having a child sick with the flu or a stomach bug during the next couple of months will cause your stress level to shoot sky-high. Prevention is key for a healthier, happier winter. Make some simple changes and additions now.


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Author: Karen Latimer

Dr. Latimer is a Family Physician and Wellness & Parenting Coach. She works with parents who want to feel more confident when helping their children and coaches young adults to help them better navigate college life and transitions. Contact her at drkarenlatimer@gmail.com to learn more. She is the author of two Audible Originals, Take Back the House -- Raising Happy Parents and Worry Less, Parent Better.