We've heard the drill time and again--wash your hands, don't touch your face, wear a mask and so on.
But, what you put in your body also has an important role to play in keeping your immune system strong.
First and foremost, making sure you're getting enough vitamins and minerals from the food you eat helps to regulate immune system function. Diet also plays a role in either increasing or decreasing inflammation in the body.
For example, if you're eating lots of red meat, sugary beverages, refined grains and fried foods, then your body is likely in a state of chronic inflammation. On the other hand, by replacing those culprits with healthy fats, whole grains, fruits and vegetables can actually decrease inflammation.
Processed foods often contain lots of sodium, which doesn't bode well for your immune system since a high-salt diet impairs the neutrophils' ability to kill bacteria in the body. Moreover, since food eventually makes its way to the stomach, what we eat can either help or hurt the bacteria living there. In particular, a high fat diet is harmful to those bacteria, while probiotics and fiber are beneficial.
Here are a few immune-boosting food swaps for some immune-busting common foods.
Swap potato chips for popcorn
Potatoes can be healthy, but not if they're fried. Instead, opt for popcorn that still delivers the crunch. Popcorn is whole grain and contains polyphenols. What's more, the popping process doesn't significantly degrade the antioxidant properties in popcorn, so the body can absorb those antioxidants. If possible, select popcorn with a simple ingredient list --corn, salt, butter and preferably olive or avocado oil instead of palm oil.
Swap soda for sparkling water
Soda is loaded with sugar and calories and has absolutely no nutritional value. Some brands also pack copious amounts of caffeine. Sparkling water has a mere 10 calories and no sugar or caffeine. The carbonated brands also give you that satisfying fizz for your palate.
Swap white bread for whole grain
White bread was once whole grain that underwent a few more steps in processing. Specifically, the nutritious bran and germ have been removed, leaving just the endosperm, which contains most of the carbs and some protein, vitamins and minerals. Whole grains are higher in immune-boosting nutrients like iron, fiber and vitamin E.
Swap steak for salmon
Red meat produces higher levels of inflammation in the body, whereas salmon contains omega-3 fatty acids which have been shown to decrease inflammation. Try to eat salmon at least twice a week. Opt for wild caught over farm raised as the latter has more saturated fat and calories.
Swap salty snacks for pistachios
Salty snacks are loaded with sodium, saturated fat and calories and have little nutritional value. They also increase inflammation in the body.
Pistachios, on the other hand, contain healthy fats, iron and fiber and the polyphenols inside the nut help to fight inflammation.