Following a healthy, balanced lifestyle can help set you up for a strong immune system. While good nutrition and health don’t guarantee you won’t get sick from a bacteria or virus, it can potentially help you fight illness and recover quicker.

Harvard Health suggests there are lifestyle measures we can take to support a strong immune system, such as not smoking, eating a well-balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, exercising on a regular basis, getting adequate sleep, minimizing stress and maintaining a healthy weight. It is, of course, important to practice hand hygiene, as well.

When it comes to nutrition, it’s important to focus on including essential nutrients in your diet on a daily basis to reduce the risk of vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Research shows a diet rich in vegetables and fruits, healthy fats, protein, whole grains and probiotic foods can help support the immune system. The nutrients found in these foods support immune cells that fight infection.

Vitamins A, C, E and D, zinc and probiotics are considered immune-supportive.

  • Foods like mango, bell peppers, citrus fruits, winter squash, sweet potatoes, berries and broccoli have vitamins A and C, while foods like nuts and seeds contain vitamin E.
  • Vitamin D may also help support the immune system, which you can get via sun exposure (10-15 minutes per day, the experts say) or by eating dairy foods, mushrooms, fatty fish and egg yolks.
  • Zinc, which supports white blood cells, is found in seafood, yogurt, beans and fortified grain foods.
  • Probiotic foods contain beneficial bacteria that support gut function and are found in yogurt, kefir and other fermented foods. Most people aren’t aware that many of our immune cells are in the gut, so a flourishing gut microbiota is essential for immune system function.

So, let’s get down to the meat of it – I’ve compiled a handful of Stride recipes that contain foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds, dairy, fatty fish and yogurt to help you get these nutrients into your diet and give you a sense of how variety can achieve the goal of nourishing the body and support the immune system:

Breakfast:

Lunch/Dinner:

Snacks:

It’s also important to focus on other aspects of good health, like getting enough sleep, managing stress and exercising regularly. If you are looking for support in any of these areas, reach out to a Health Care Advisor!

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