Prepare for the Tridemic With These 6 Healthy Eating Habits

For the past few years, we’ve had to focus on building our immune systems to help fight off COVID-19. Unfortunately, experts warn that COVID is not the only disease we need to watch out for this year. The New York Times recently released an article about what medical professionals call a “tridemic,” which is a new term that stems from the rise in flu cases this season, the rise in RSV cases in children’s hospitals this year, and the ongoing COVID-19. 19 plagues.

Due to the triple threat to our health this winter, experts advise people to try to build up their immunity however they can. Although the state of a person’s immunity depends on many factors, some of which are beyond our control, one way we can focus on a better immune system is to incorporate immune-enhancing nutritional habits into our daily diet.

“If you want to keep your immune system strong against colds, germs, and other illnesses, fill up on whole foods like colorful produce, lean protein, low-fat dairy, and whole grains,” says Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, the author Handbook of Sports Nutrition and members of our Specialist Medical Board. “These foods are full of nutrients to help your body stay strong and fight what’s going on.”

Read on to learn about more specific eating habits you can adopt today to help you fight the impending tridemic.

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Loaded with antioxidants

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One of the best ways to “eat” your way to boosting immunity is to include more antioxidants in your daily diet.

“Antioxidants like flavonoids, anthocyanins, and carotenoids help fight free radicals (aka the bad guys) that can potentially cause damage to your cells and affect your immune system,” says Goodson. “And luckily, these nutrients are found in all your colorful produce.” If you’re curious about getting more of these antioxidants into your daily routine, Goodson has some simple tips on common foods to try.

“Flavonoids are found in berries, kale, cabbage, dark chocolate, tea, and soybeans. Anthocyanins (a type of flavonoid) are naturally produced pigments that give flowers their red, purple, and blue colors, so think berries, grapes, pomegranates, and even red wine. And carotenoids are found in orange, yellow and red produce such as summer squash, pumpkins, mangoes and apricots,” says Goodson.

Eat foods rich in vitamin C

Vitamin c is a specialized antioxidant known to help keep your immune system strong and help your body fight disease. You can supplement with this vitamin, but Goodson recommends getting it through your food if possible.

“While you might think of oranges and orange juice—which are high in vitamin C, you can also get vitamin C from tomatoes and tomato juice, red bell peppers, other citrus fruits like strawberries, and green vegetables like spinach and green beans.”

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RELATED: 5 Healthy Eating Habits To Fight COVID-19, According To WHO

Eat foods high in zinc

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People often associate vitamin C with immunity, but “zinc is a powerful mineral that also helps maintain a strong immune system,” says Goodson. And just like many other vitamins and minerals, you can take zinc supplements if you need to. However, getting more zinc into your diet through the foods you eat is easier than you might think.

“Beef is considered an excellent source of zinc, providing almost half of what you need in a day,” says Goodson. “So choosing lean cuts of red meat at meals can help you fill up on this important nutrient.” If you don’t like red meat, you can also get zinc through “legumes, nuts, seeds, dairy foods, and even dark chocolate.”

Drink more smoothies

Fruits and vegetables provide your body with important nutrients and antioxidants, but sometimes it’s hard to get enough servings throughout the day. One solution to this is to make smoothies loaded with fruits and vegetables.

“A smoothie full of antioxidants and immune-boosting ingredients is a great way to prepare your body for the coming tridemic, and it’s also a great way to get these nutrients for your kids to protect against RSV,” says Trista Best, MPH, RD, LD, at Balance One Supplements. “Some ingredients to consider include blueberries, spinach, papaya, flaxseed, kale, mango and ginger. Consider a natural orange juice base or vitamin C-rich kefir for probiotics.”

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Snack on nuts and seeds

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Eating immune-boosting foods at various meal times is beneficial, but what about your snacks between meals?

“Immune-boosting snacks are a great way to incorporate nutrients that protect against disease. So swap your regular chips or popcorn for nuts and seeds,” says Best. “Nuts such as almonds and walnuts, or seeds such as sunflower and pumpkin, contain many vitamins and minerals that help regulate and support the immune system. These nutrients include B6, phosphorus, selenium and magnesium, along with healthy fats that help reduce inflammation which otherwise may interfere with immune function.”

Enjoy some fermented foods

And finally, eating healthy doses of fermented foods can “provide probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria, that support immune function,” says Best. “Probiotics can help immunity by secreting substances that trigger the immune system to respond more strongly, thereby preventing pathogens from being able to take root and cause disease.”

If you’re looking for delicious probiotic-rich foods, Best suggests yogurt with live active cultures, cheeses like gouda, mozzarella and cheddar, kefir, sauerkraut, pickles, apple cider vinegar, miso and kimchi.

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