Immune System Boosting Foods for People with Lung Conditions
Man, life lately has been crazy with people around the world hunkering down to stop the spread of COVID-19. In these uncertain times, we have to do as much as we can to strengthen our immune system so that we can stay as healthy as we can. In all aspects of getting ill, (not just with COVID-19, but flu, colds, and other infections) people with lung conditions are in the “high risk” category. It is important to get plenty of sleep, exercise, and avoid stress. Another thing that we can do to boost our immune system is to eat a healthy diet and incorporate foods that will help us in our efforts to fight off viruses and other infections. Try hard to avoid fast foods and processed foods. Eat as “clean” as you can. It’s not about dieting…it’s about putting food into your body that isn't preservatives and chemicals. I have done some research over the past couple of weeks to give you some suggestions for food that may “pack a punch” in boosting that immune system of yours.
1. Water – Good hydration is part of the “holy grail” for good health habits. Not only does water help you to thin and move mucous in your lungs but it also hydrates your nasal mucosa (inside your nose) that filters bacteria and viruses preventing them from entering your body. When you are fighting infection, your body needs the extra water to flush out toxins. I recommend increasing your water intake by 1-2 cups a day. Blogger’s tip: If you aren’t a big water drinker, try adding natural flavoring like orange slices or grapefruit. Avoid “sugary” flavor additives.
2. Broccoli – If you want a superfood that is packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, broccoli is it. Broccoli is loaded with vitamins A, C, and E which help to build your immune defenses. Broccoli is a major source of the antioxidant glutathione. Antioxidants protect your cells from damage from free radicals. Bloggers tip: As with most vegetables, broccoli is best for the body eaten raw, however putting it in soups, stir-fry’s, and casseroles is another way in which you can add broccoli to your diet.
3. Garlic – For hundreds of years people have been using garlic for its immune-boosting characteristics. Garlic has antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal properties. Why? It contains a sulfur compound called allicin. Allicin has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties (both of these are super beneficial to your immune system). Blogger’s tip: Add minced garlic to vinaigrettes, soups, and stews. Garlic is also available in supplement form but make sure you check with your doctor before starting any new supplements.
4. Button Mushrooms – You don’t need to get fancy with shitakes and portabellas to get the nutrients from mushrooms. Your common button mushrooms also have niacin, riboflavin, and selenium that give your immune system strength to fight off viruses. Selenium is a mineral that is important for your thyroid and your metabolism to function properly. Blogger’s tip: Don’t cook “the life” out of your mushrooms. If you aren’t a huge fan, you can chop them up small and hide them in taco filling or hamburgers.
5. Red Bell Peppers – Most people know that they can get vitamin C from citrus fruits, but did you know that red bell peppers are the “real MVPs” for having a ton of vitamin C? Red bell peppers contain twice as much vitamin C as citrus fruits and are a great source of beta carotene (hello carrots!) that not only boots your immune system but helps your eyes and skin. Blogger’s tip: You can add red bell pepper to spaghetti sauce or roast them in the oven with other veggies. They have natural sugars that make them slightly sweet when cooked.
6. Yogurt- When shopping for yogurt make sure you select brands that say their yogurt contains “live and active cultures.” These probiotics help build strength to your immune system and aid in digestion. Yogurt also has a ton of vitamin D. Blogger’s tip: You can substitute plain Greek yogurt for sour cream. It’s a healthy alternative and tastes about the same.
7. Green Tea – I had heard that green tea was good for you, but I had to research why. It contains a very strong antioxidant called epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG. Another added bonus tea helps to improve cholesterol levels as well. Luckily for this busy momma, it doesn’t matter if the tea is caffeinated or decaffeinated… both are equally as effective. Blogger’s Tip: Green tea is said to contain catechins that are reported to help with weight loss.
8. Spinach – You can’t have a list like this and not include spinach. This superfood is loaded in antioxidants, vitamin C, vitamin A, beta carotene, magnesium, iron, and folate. Folate is incredible in itself because it repairs DNA and helps your body make new cells. No wonder Popeye’s muscles grew! Blogger’s tip: To maximize the benefits of eating spinach it is best eaten raw or slightly cooked. I mix it into my salad greens or add a few leaves to my lettuce on a sandwich. I hardly know it’s there.
9. Wheat Germ – I have to admit that I don’t use wheat germ much, but after I found out how it can help our bodies, I was sold. Wheat germ provides you with protein, fiber, and healthy fat. It contains vitamin B and antioxidants. Blogger’s tip: You can mix it with anything that you use breadcrumbs in, and it can also be used as a substitution for some of the white flour in baking recipes to add a little healthy boost to your sweets.
10. Elderberry – With the coronavirus in the news, elderberry has come into focus as a way to boost your immune system because of its antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. People have used the berries for centuries to make syrups and lozenges to help reduce swelling in the mucous membranes. HOWEVER, I want you all to be careful because the elderberry can react with certain medications that lung patients are on. I highly recommend that you check with your doctor or pharmacist before starting a regimen of taking elderberry to make sure it won’t interact with anything else that you might be taking for your lung condition.
Thanks for Reading and Stay Well!
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