It’s that time of year when small talk about the weather shifts to small talk about the plethora of illnesses going around. Partly because nobody really wants to talk about February weather, but also in part because, well, 'tis the season.
This post will focus on foods that can support our immune systems this time of year (and year-round!), but we wouldn't be doing our immune system justice if we failed to mention that diet is just one part of the equation. Handwashing, adequate sleep, a daily dose of exercise, and hydration are all super important, too. And remember that stress is a total immune system buster, do your best to find your zen.
Your immune system is just that--a system, as complex as the word can imply. It operates best on optimal nutrition, which is why the foods we put into our stomachs--aka the Pentagon of your immune system--matters. And there’s no magic food or cure-all for illness--eating an orange isn’t going to take that cold away, but focusing your diet on whole, nutrient-dense foods is the best way to show your immune system some love. Your body needs lots of vitamins and minerals to support your immune system, and those can be found in a variety of food sources (oysters for zinc, anyone?) but there’s no getting around the power of fruits and veggies. They tend to be particularly high in a few vitamins that are critical to a thriving immune system:
Vitamin C: Chances are you’re already well versed on vitamin C’s immune-boosting abilities. But did you know it is found in far more foods than just citrus? You can find it in many veggies and our personal faves, strawberries and papaya. Another fun fact: you are probably getting enough vitamin C from your diet and might not need to supplement.
Vitamin A: Vitamin A is known as the “anti-inflammatory” vitamin because it plays such an important role in immune function. It helps develop the immune system and is part of the A-team (pun intended) of an immune response. Eating colorful foods should have you covered, especially sweet potato, carrots, spinach, broccoli, and dark leafy greens.
Need more greens? Try adding spinach to Unbelievaberry.
Vitamin E: Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that helps regulate immune functions. And you can find it in some kitchen staples: almonds, sunflower seeds, spinach, and broccoli are all high in Vitamin E.
This is just the tip of the iceberg--vitamin D, folate, iron, selenium and zinc are also super important for a healthy immune system, and research is starting to explore how micronutrient deficiencies can alter the body’s immune response.
Tropical Zing: An Immune-Boosting Powerhouse
While fruits and veggies are important for strong immune systems, we have a few more tricks up our immune-boosting sleeves to share. Our Tropical Zing blend is full of your immune system’s favorite fruits like mango (packed with vitamin C and folate), pineapple (hello, antioxidants!) but also has a few superfood tricks up its sleeve:
Ginger: Ginger can go a long way in settling the stomach after a bout with the flu or stomach virus, but its potent anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties mean it can do more than treat symptoms, it can help your body fight illness. Plus, it tastes totally delicious.
Turmeric: Another anti-inflammatory powerhouse rich in antioxidants, research has shown that turmeric’s properties make it a strong defense against the 3 c’s: cough, cold and congestion.
Bee Pollen: Add another to the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant list. Plus, bee pollen has antimicrobial and antiviral properties that make this superfood a sick day must-have. Fun fact: it’s also a natural stress reliever!
Happy immune-boosting, friends. May the odds be ever in your favor this cold and flu season.