There’s no question that our world today has become much more fast-paced and interconnected than it was even five or 10 years ago.
Today, we live in a society that runs on a 24/7 news cycle, instantaneous computer access, and the ability to order everything from groceries to a recumbent bicycle from our mobile phones while we are waiting to board a plane. On the one hand, this high tech world can allow us to connect with each other in ways that could not have been possible before.
On the other, its speed forces us to work at that same pace, which can often come at the expense of our health, particularly our immune system.
You’ve no doubt had patients with the vague complaints that clearly point to a chronically weakened immune system. They often feel fatigued, have generalized aches in the joints and frequent respiratory infections, and complain of digestive issues such as gas, constipation, or diarrhea. They may also have skin issues such as hives or rashes.
Of course, these are just the symptoms of a depleted immune system. The real issue is to help boost the body’s own immune system to protect against future illness. Changing the diet toward foods that naturally boost the immune system is an excellent way to accomplish this.
Read on for some delicious immune boosting foods that are packed with vitamins and nutrients that can give your patients the boost they need to keep up with the frantic pace of the world today.
1. Citrus fruits
Citrus fruits may well be the best-known type of food that can help boost the immune system, due to their high amounts of vitamin C. In particular, vitamin C can help protect the body against the cold virus by increasing the production of white blood cells, which fight off infections.
One great advantage of suggesting that your patients add citrus into their diet is that the fruit is plentiful throughout the year, including during the winter, when people are most susceptible to colds.
2. Dark green vegetables
Dark green vegetables fall into three distinct categories. Each type of vegetable has different types of vitamins and minerals.
Salad greens: These include romaine, spinach, and arugula, among others. Romaine and other salad greens are high in fiber, beta carotene, vitamin C, folate, calcium, and iron. Non-lettuce leafy greens, such as arugula, are high in antioxidants. Spinach is the most nutrient-dense of all the salad greens, as it packs in fiber, protein, beta carotene, B vitamins, magnesium, potassium, and vitamins C, E, and K.
Cooking greens: These types of greens include swiss chard, kale, bok choy, collards and mustard, beet and turnip greens. The cooking process boosts their content of vitamins A and K. They also have higher levels of beta carotene, vitamin C, calcium, iron and B vitamins than do salad greens.
Broccoli: This cruciferous vegetable, which is related to cauliflower and cabbage, also is a powerhouse of vitamins and nutrients that boost the immune system: Fiber, protein, potassium, iron, vitamin C, beta carotene, folate, riboflavin and vitamin B-6. However, it also is high in antioxidants that can help protect against certain types of cancer.
Yogurt may be one of the best known foods that can help boost the body’s immune system. It has live cultures that work to protect the digestive system against any number of gastrointestinal issues that can result in diarrhea. It does this by re-establishing the presence of “good” bacteria that allow the body to fight off the “bad” bacteria that can lead to viral infections.
Trying to keep up with everything that you must get done in any given day can be exhausting. Unfortunately, once that exhaustion sets in, it can be all too easy to become susceptible to illness because your body’s immune system is not working at its best. Fortunately, some simple changes to your patients’ diet can help them match the pace of their busy schedule with an immune system that keeps them healthy.