|whole body health
The immune system relies on whole body health to function optimally. While all nutrients are needed to support overall health, there are certain nutrients that play important roles in the function of the immune system.
Here are several of those nutrients and some foods in which they are found:
Found in foods like broccoli, peppers, and oranges, Vitamin C enhances immune function by helping to protect immune cells from free-radical damage.
Found in fatty fish such as salmon as well as fortified milks and cereals, this fat-soluble vitamin helps regulate the immune system.
Found in foods like avocado, almonds, and peanut butter, Vitamin E boosts antioxidant activity and helps to protect cell membranes.
Required for the growth and development of immune cells, Zinc is found in foods such as baked beans, pumpkin seeds, and shrimp.
This mineral helps to make chemical messengers that regulate inflammation and immune function, and is found in foods like chicken, brown rice, quinoa, and eggs.
Used to make immune cells that kill viruses, bacteria, and other organisms that cause disease, Iron is found in foods like beans, beef, and chocolate.
An overall pattern of eating that is plant-forward and includes a variety of health-promoting foods will provide the nutrients needed to support your immune health.
Quality sleep is essential for all aspects of health, including your immune system and physical activity.
Some folks might be surprised to learn that poor quality sleep—not sleeping long or deeply enough—can make you feel hungry, and even cause you to crave certain foods (such as chips or sweets). On the flip side, a healthy pattern of eating is important for promoting sufficient sleep, and specific food choices may either help or hinder your ability to sleep soundly.
Simply put, sleep and nutrition are interconnected.
The hormone melatonin and the amino acid tryptophan are two compounds that promote quality sleep. Consider including food sources of melatonin—such as pistachios, cherries, and salmon—and tryptophan—such as tuna, mushrooms, and peanuts—to help support a good night’s sleep. Wash it all down with a cup of herbal tea, which can help you feel a sense of calm and promote restful sleep.
Foods that are spicy, high in added sugars, and/or high in caffeine may disrupt sleep when consumed too close to bedtime. You might also find that you experience sleep difficulties when you go to bed shortly after eating or drinking. It’s generally a good idea to allow 2 hours before bedtime after your last meal or snack so your body can transition to a calm and restful state.
While there are many things you can do to promote restorative sleep, one of the simplest actions you can take is to have a consistent sleep routine. This means going to bed and waking up at the same general times, and eating dinner around the same time each evening. Bonus if your routine limits screentime before bed!
Start simple and enjoy a variety of nutritious foods to ensure you have enough of the nutrients needed to support all body processes, including sleep.
Check out some of our top picks below to help you get those Z’s!
It’s tempting to think that a single nutrient or food will dramatically impact health for better or worse. But the reality is that it’s your overall pattern of eating—not just one nutrient or food—that has the most influence on your health.
To get a variety of nutrients needed to support health, it’s best to strive for 5 cups of fruits and veggies per day. What’s the easiest way to achieve that goal? Aim for a rainbow of colors. Eating a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables each day provides an abundance of nutrients and plant compounds that work together to promote optimal health and support a strong immune system. From white cauliflower to red raspberries, each fruit and veggie has something unique to offer!
Here are four of our seasonal favorites to get you started!
Having seafood twice a week is recommended to promote overall health and support immune function, so make seafood a regular part of your rotation. There are so many varieties of seafood to enjoy, and each kind offers a different mix of nutrients!
There is a very good reason gut health has captured everyone’s attention: in addition to supporting overall health, having a healthy gut is a great way to support your immune system.
About 70% of your entire immune system is in your gut! Good gut bugs interact with the immune system and help it protect the body from “bad bugs” that could cause harm and possibly disease.
Good gut bugs protect the lining of the digestive tract. A damaged lining can allow things to enter the bloodstream that should not be there; the body may view these as a threat, which activates an inflammatory response. This type of inflammation overstresses the body and makes it more difficult for your immune system to function properly.
Luckily, you can support your gut health with food! Fill up on fiber by enjoying plant-forward meals & snacks, or explore probiotic and fermented foods to give your gut health a boost!
by Dr. Kristine Gedroic
Chances are, you’ve heard of probiotics, commonly found in dairy products like yogurt. They’ve been found to be good for your gut, but what many people don’t know is that probiotics come from plant-based foods. So, the more you eat, the healthier your gut.
Our gut is an ecosystem filled with trillions of bacteria, fungi, and parasites! They all create a happy equilibrium that helps us digest food, keeps our metabolism humming along, and provides enough energy to survive between meals. Without the right balance, our gut isn’t able to work properly, triggering symptoms like bloating, belching, acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome, and constipation, as well as moodiness, anxiety, and depression.
Having different strains of bacteria keeps the gut balanced—and the body and brain healthy. A diet deficient in plant-based foods (or taking antibiotics, which kills both good and bad bacteria) results in a lack of diversity of bacteria, contributing to things like diabetes, gastrointestinal disease, and other chronic diseases. Replenishing our good bacteria is important to help rebalance our gut.
Apple Cider Vinegar contains good bacteria (found in “the Mother”) which helps maintain a healthy balance in our gut.
Kefir, a smoothie-like drink made from milk, is a good source of probiotics and nutrients like vitamins A and D.
Kimchi is similar to sauerkraut in that it’s fermented cabbage, but this Korean food also contains vegetables like chili peppers and is much spicier.
Kombucha is a fizzy tea rich in probiotics. It contains caffeine, so it’s best to drink in the morning or early afternoon. To enjoy the benefits of kombucha with 40% less sugar, try our Kombucha Spritzer in delicious fruity flavors.
Kristine Gedroic, MD, discusses the importance of a healthy gut in her book, A Nation of Unwell: What’s Gone Wrong? Dr. Gedroic is the founder and medical director of The Gedroic Medical Institute, in Morristown, NJ.
Staying hydrated isn’t just a summer thing, it’s a year-round strategy to feel your best.
Water makes up about 60% of body weight and is needed to turn food into energy, carry nutrients to cells, keep joints lubricated, regulate body temperature, and prevent fatigue. It also protects against dry lips and skin.
MYTH: You need to drink 8 cups of water a day.
FACT: There is no set number that’s right for everyone. Hydration needs vary based on several factors including age, gender, activity level, and climate. Let your thirst be your guide.
MYTH: Only decaf beverages are hydrating.
FACT: All beverages provide hydration, including tea and coffee; the water in them offsets caffeine’s mild diuretic effect.
Healthy hydration options keep added sugars in check. Also, 20% of water intake comes from food! Enjoy nourishing foods that boost hydration, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, yogurt, and soups. Water is also a great hydration go-to. For flavorful options with no added sugar, try sparkling water, Wonder Water, unsweetened coffee or tea (like our Just Tea) or fruit-and-herb-infused water.
Your immune system relies on whole-body health to work effectively, and brain health is an important part of this. Two factors important for brain health are taming inflammation and supporting the brain’s structure and function. Luckily, both things can be accomplished through food.