Immune Boosting Foods to Keep You Moving
Written by Brittney Bearden, MEd, RD, CSSD, LD
Sports Dietitian, Texas Health Sports Medicine
Nothing can ruin your training and athletic performance like sickness. Maintaining a balanced diet helps strengthens the immune system to prevent down time due to illness. Along with diet, lifestyle habits like sleeping 7-9 hours a night, exercising regularly, maintaining proper hydration and washing your hands regularly all help to prevent sickness. Here are four nutrient-packed foods to include in your diet to keep your immune system strong:
Red Bell Peppers: Red bell peppers are a rich source of Vitamin C, containing approximately 2 times the amount of an orange. Incorporate red bell peppers into snacks by dipping slices in hummus or guacamole. At meals include red bell peppers in a salad, stir-fry or make stuffed bell peppers.
Almonds: Full of healthy omega-3 fats, vitamin E, magnesium, and manganese, almonds are a great snack or salad topping. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps protect the body against oxidative stress and just a 1-ounce serving of almonds provides 37% of the recommended daily intake.
Greek Yogurt: Probiotics or “live active cultures” found in yogurt and other naturally fermented foods help feed the digestive tract with healthy bacteria. A healthy digestive system increases immunity, as the majority of the immune system is located in the digestive tract. Greek yogurt is a great snack not only for the probiotic content, but also supplies muscle-building protein.
Sweet potatoes: The skin is the largest organ in the body and plays a protective role in the immune system. Vitamin A aids in the production of connective tissue, which is an important component of skin. Sweet potatoes are full of beta-carotene, which the body converts to Vitamin A. Bake sweet potatoes whole or thinly slice and drizzle with olive oil and seasonings for homemade sweet potato fries.
Despite the pandemic, Bearden is staying in touch with her clients concerning sports nutrition and education this summer thanks to virtual technology apps like Zoom and Skype, which make consultations easy and accessible. To learn more or make an appointment, contact Bearden or her team at Texas Health Sports Medicine.