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Can nutrition strengthen your immune system?

Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels
Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels

If you are someone who is into health and fitness, the title of this blog comes as no surprise to you. Maybe you didn’t always know how important nutrition is to your overall health, but you learned, and you understand the benefits of eating a healthy diet.

Fast forward to the first quarter of 2020, where we found ourselves in a global pandemic. The coronavirus spread quickly through densely populated areas. It seemed to hit specific populations, mostly those with older people and people with pre-existing conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Even Deborah Birx, M.D, stated that “having an underlying condition and getting this virus, we know is particularly damaging to those individuals.” And this is why taking care of your health should be a top priority in your life. Health is true, wealth.

Will eating a healthy diet provide you with a robust immune system? Most of us will answer yes, but what do the experts say? A paper in the journal, Nutrients discusses this very subject:

Often missing in public health discussions around immunity and infection are nutritional strategies to support optimal function of the immune system. This is surprising, given that the importance that nutrition plays in immune function is well established. Several vitamins, including vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D, E, and folate; and trace elements, including zinc, iron, selenium, magnesium, and copper, play important and complementary roles in supporting both the innate and adaptive immune systems. Deficiencies or suboptimal status in micronutrients negatively affect immune function and can decrease resistance to infections (Calder, et all, 2020).

Well, there you go. When you provide your body with nutritious foods, you give your immune system the best defense against any virus or bacteria infection. Where to start? How about this quick breakfast smoothie to help get you fueled and ready for the day while providing micronutrients to help support your body’s natural defense system.

Immune boosting smoothie

Immune Boosting Smoothie

Ingredients:
1 cup of frozen mixed berries.
1 handful of spinach.
1 tbs of almond butter
1 tbs cacao powder
1 scoop of protein powder of your choice. I like Jay Robb Egg White Protein Powder in vanilla
A drop or two of NuNaturals Liquid Alcohol-Free Stevia to taste
1 cup of almond milk, plus a splash of water if needed for blending
Blend and enjoy.

How are these ingredients beneficial to your immune system? Let’s take a look.

  • Blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries are full of antioxidants that protect your cells. They are also low on the glycemic index, so they won’t spike your blood sugar.
  • Spinach is a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals such as A, C, K1, folic acid, iron, and calcium. Plus, it blends easily into smoothies with no ‘greens’ taste.
  • Almond butter contains monounsaturated fat that helps reduce bad cholesterol levels in your blood. Since fat contains nine calories per gram, if you are trying to lose weight, eat this spread in moderation.
  • Unsweetened cocoa is a rich source of polyphenols, which are antioxidants that can reduce inflammation.
  • Egg white protein powder is a good source of protein that has low saturated fat and cholesterol. I like this form of protein powder as I have sinus issues with whey.
  • Stevia a sweet alternative to sugar and can keep blood glucose in check after a meal.
  • Almond milk is a tasty alternative for people who are sensitive to dairy, plus, it’s low in calories. Most of the benefits found in almond milk such as vitamins D and E are added by the manufacture to create a more nutritious beverage.

I will say that this smoothie does need a slight boost of sweetener, and while stevia doesn’t boast any supernatural vitamin powers, it certainly won’t spike your insulin. I’m sure you can play around and find different sweeteners to your taste, such as honey or coconut sugar.

So will this smoothie take care of all your nutritional needs for your immune system? Well, wouldn’t that be easy? Make sure you are eating at the very least 80% healthy foods reserving 20% for sweets and fast food. Hey, we aren’t all perfect, and enjoying all foods creates a better life experience.

Cheers to good health!
Monica.

Reference:
Calder, P.C.; Carr, A.C.; Gombart, A.F.; Eggersdorfer, M. Optimal Nutritional Status for a Well-Functioning Immune System Is an Important Factor to Protect against Viral Infections. Nutrients 202012, 1181.

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