When cold and flu season rolls around each year, we can often feel fearful and helpless. As someone with health anxiety, I know these feelings very well.
However, the best way I’ve found to stay healthy, both physically and mentally, is to act on what I can control, and let the rest go.
I do this by supporting my immune system on a daily basis. Our immune system can be compromised under several circumstances including:
- not sleeping enough,
- eating suboptimally,
- with young or older age,
- having underlying health conditions, or
- when experiencing high stress.
Yes, the stress and fear of getting sick could contribute to us actually getting sick!
What are some daily habits for boosting immunity?
- aim for 7-9 hours of sleep a night
- regularly exercise lightly to moderately
- strenuous exercise can weaken our immune system
- manage stress through yoga or meditation
- avoid excessive alcohol and caffeine
- stay hydrated
- eat lots of fruits and vegetables
- avoid processed foods
- quit smoking
Vitamins and Minerals to Support Immunity
Whole food, plant-based nutrition plays a big role in supporting our immune system. I’ve listed key immune-boosting vitamins and minerals along with their food sources. In some cases, vitamins and minerals can be depleted and therefore, supplementation can be helpful.
- found in carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, cantaloupe, & squash
- supplementation may be important for people with conditions like pancreatic disease, eye disease, or measles
- B6 found in garlic, chickpeas, potatoes, bananas, bulgar, avocado, & squash
- B9 (or folate) found in beans, peas, leafy greens, & enriched grains
- supplementing with folic acid is important during pre-conception & pregnancy
- B12 found in fish, fortified cereals & fortified mylk
- vegans/vegetarians often require a B12 supplement since B12 is only found in animal products
- found in oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, bell peppers, spinach, kale, Brussel sprouts, & tomatoes
- people with metabolic syndrome may need more vitamin C
- the best source is the sun
- not highly abundant in food so supplementing is recommended for most people who don’t get daily sun exposure
- found in nuts, sunflower seeds, spinach, broccoli, & avocado
- more than 90% of Americans do not consume adequate vitamin E
- found in avocado, leafy greens, almonds, brown rice, soy, & tofu
- depleted by stress, exercise, high saturated fat intake, high sugar intake, excess calcium, some diseases & aging
- I supplement with Natural Calm magnesium powder before bed to help relax and improve my sleep
- found in beans, chickpeas, lentils, root vegetables, chia seeds, hemp seeds, quinoa & almonds
- depletion can occur in people with digestive disorders, diabetes, and other conditions
- found in beans, broccoli, kale, lentils, cashews, quinoa, & raisins
- often depleted from menstruation so supplementing is advisable if you have anemia
- found in garlic, broccoli, barley, brazil nuts, & walnuts
- depleted by living near soils of low selenium, digestive disorders (like Crohn’s), dialysis, or having HIV
So try adding these foods into your diet, unwind, get a good night’s rest tonight, and remember to reach out for support if feeling overwhelmed.
Dr. Dylan Cutler
This article is sponsored by Natural Calm Canada.
Disclaimer: As the sole author of Phruitful Dish, I have based my posts on my own experiences and personal knowledge. However, I am not a medical doctor. The information in this blog is not intended as medical advice, and it is not endorsed by my employers or institutions I am affiliated with. Nutritional and supplemental choices should be made in consultation with your health care provider. This blog is intended to inspire and encourage readers to educate themselves on how nutrition and lifestyle are important and often overlooked aspects of health. Therefore, please use the information at your own risk. Occasional links may be provided leading to third party websites. The existence of these links does not infer a responsibility or an endorsement of the linked site, its operator, or its contents.