In the same way that cross training can
keep your body fit and toned by working groups of different muscles, eating a vari- ety of foods will target and work toward healing and restoring many different areas of your body, from your brain to your gut to your immune system. Protein found in lean meats, bone
broth, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds help your body repair tissue and fight infection. Stud- ies show that amino acids in protein, such as arginine and glutamine, increase your body’s ability to heal and decrease inflam- mation. In addition, the high antioxidant levels in chaga tea may also help boost your immune function. Chaga mushrooms are chockful with antioxidants and Beta- d-Glucans, which are compounds that increase macrophage and killer cell effi- ciency.
Vitamins and Minerals to the Immune System Rescue Eating foods chock-full of vitamins is
an excellent way to strengthen your im- mune system to stay healthy all season:
• Vitamin A boosts immunity, lowers your risk of infection and supports wound healing through collagen strength. Snack on carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, dark leafy greens, cantaloupe, wild-caught Alaskan salmon, organic pastured eggs and grass fed beef.
• Vitamin D plays a big part in immune health and can be found in limited quan- tities in raw grass fed milk, wild-caught Alaskan salmon and organic pastured eggs, but the ideal way to optimize your levels is via sunshine
• Some of the most vitamin C-rich foods include citrus fruits, from tangerines to limes, along with leafy greens, bell pep- pers and broccoli. Berries are another great source, and they all provide this and other potent antioxidants, which support your immune response and help to rebuild collagen.
• Vitamin K1, important for healthy blood clotting, is abundant in dark leafy green vegetables. Vitamin K2 refers to a collection of bacterial menaquinones (MKs) that are found in a variety of dif- ferent foods, namely animal foods and fermented foods. MK-4 is most abundant in animal foods while you can find MK-
7, MK-8 and MK-9 in fermented foods.
• Important for collagen production, zinc is another protective antioxidant that helps create and activate your im- mune system’s white blood cells and is essential in the enzymatic reactions needed for wound healing. Zinc-con- taining foods include grass fed red meat (optimal amounts per day range from 5 to 7 ounces), pastured, organic chicken, spinach, nuts and pumpkin seeds.
• Selenium is another powerful antioxi- dant for immune system protection, found in Brazil nuts and organic, grass fed beef, turkey and chicken. In addition, as important as any food you eat, drink- ing adequate water is vital for flushing food through your system, flushing toxins and keeping your body hydrated. Many turn to so-called “sports drinks” for hy- drating while working out, but clear, pure water is the ideal beverage.
Immune-Strengthening Vitamins: ‘B’ Is for Boost
B vitamins may constitute a long list,
but each one is important for different reasons. Other “B’s” for boosting your im- munity are especially effective when you combine the foods containing them so they can all work together for maximum effect. These include vitamin B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (panto- thenic acid) and B7 (biotin). B12, also known as cobalamin, is a
powerful cold- and flu-fighting nutrient in your system, as is vitamin B6, another important, germ-combating vitamin that naturally benefits and strengthens your immune system and even protects against the damaging effects of air pollution. Vitamin B9 and folic acid help repair tissues and aid in cell metabolism and immune support. They’re found in dark leafy greens, wild-caught, cold water fish like herring, mackerel, sardines, anchovies and wild-caught Alaskan salmon, and pastured, organic chicken. Nutritional yeast and other foods fortified with B12 present one way vegetarians (or anyone else, for that matter) can augment their B12 intake through their diet. Raw, organic grass fed milk, yogurt and cheese are ad- ditional options with naturally high B12 content.
Optimizing Your Gut Health With Probiot- ics
The health benefits derived from pro- biotics are rooted in balancing your intes- tinal bacteria. One of the easiest and quickest ways to do that is by eating fer- mented vegetables, which have long been a mainstay in many ancient cultures. However, it’s only been in recent decades that this method of optimizing gut health has reemerged. The traditional method for preparing
fermented vegetables is very much like it was thousands of years ago. Fermenting helps introduce friendly bacteria to your system and is one of the best ways to op- timize your immune system, about 80 percent of which resides in your gastroin- testinal tract. It’s not an overstatement to say it’s a key line of defense against patho- gens, as well as an aid in the production of antibodies.
Aside from fermented vegetables, one
of the most healthful fermented foods is kefir, an enzyme-rich food full of friendly microorganisms that help balance your microbiome as well as strengthen your immune defenses. Other beneficial fer- mented foods include natto, kimchi, pick-
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January 2020 27
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