10 Oct Supporting Your Immunity with Nutrition This Fall
As we approach the cold and flu season, it’s important to support your immune system.
Today, there are countless supplements and products on the market that claim to help boost immunity. However, supporting a healthy immune system is more than just taking a pill containing a mix of vitamins, herbs, and minerals.
Here are some of the best ways to support your immunity through nutrition and lifestyle this Fall season:
Eat more of these foods. A nutritious diet is essential for maintaining a healthy immune system. This means eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats! Although there is no single food that will magically improve your immune system, including a variety of immune-boosting foods will certainly help. These foods include:
- Red Bell Peppers
- & Oats!
Get plenty of sleep. Sleep deprivation has been linked to poor eating patterns, an increased risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes, decreased psychological well-being, and a shorter lifespan.1 There is scientific evidence that not getting enough sleep reduces the immune system’s capacities.2 For example, according to some studies, a lack of sleep might lead to an increase in white blood cells, indicating inflammation.3 Adults should sleep for at least seven hours each night, teenagers for eight to ten hours, and younger children and newborns for up to fourteen hours (including naps).
Minimize stress. Stress is a natural part of life for everyone but unfortunately it can make you more susceptible to sickness, from colds to serious diseases, if it lasts for a long time. Chronic stress causes the immune system to be weakened by a constant flow of stress hormones. You may not be able to eliminate stress completely, but you can get better at managing it. Good activities to relieve/manage stress include:
- Talking to a friend
- Finding a new hobby
- Deep breathing
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Although hydration doesn’t necessarily protect you from germs and viruses, it is important to stay hydrated for your general health. Dehydration can cause headaches and impair your physical performance, focus, mood, digestion, and heart and renal function, etc.4 These issues can make you more susceptible to sickness. A good rule of thumb is that your urine should look light a light-colored lemonade!
Bottom Line: You can improve your immune system today by making a few lifestyle and nutrition modifications. Eating a balanced diet, remaining hydrated, getting enough sleep, and managing your stress levels are just a few of the changes you can make!
Maryann Walsh, MFN, RD, CDE
Registered Dietitian/ Consultant
- Optimal nutrition for a healthy immune system – today’s Dietitian magazine. Todaysdietitian.Com. Retrieved May 30, 2022.
- Besedovsky L, Lange T, Born J. Sleep and immune function. Pflugers Arch. 2012;463(1):121-137.
- Boudjeltia KZ, Faraut B, Stenuit P, et al. Sleep restriction increases white blood cells, mainly neutrophil count, in young healthy men: a pilot study. Vasc Health Risk Manag. 2008;4(6):1467-1470.
- Popkin, B. M., D’Anci, K. E., & Rosenberg, I. H. (2010). Water, hydration, and health: Nutrition Reviews©, Vol. 68, No. 8. Nutrition Reviews, 68(8), 439–458.