Immune Boosting Snacks for Feeling And Sleeping Better
Turn these 5 immune-boosting kitchen staples into tasty snacks that promote well-being and quality sleep.
Looking for ways to naturally boost your immune system? The easiest and tastiest way, of course, is through the foods we eat and the quality of sleep we get.
Most of you have likely read or heard about the beneficial, good-for-you properties of vitamins C, E, B complex and magnesium for starters. Immune-boosting powerhouses A and D, as studied in this report, are being linked with the ability to metabolize in our immune system to help fight the good fight. Beta carotene, oxalic acid and other beneficial nutrients naturally found in a variety of fruits, vegetables, herbs, complex carbohydrates and fish are also key to keeping the body ready to ward off any pesky virus.
Here are five immune-boosting pantry staples (including that cold pantry, the fridge) and ways to turn them into tasty snacks or light meals that promote well-being and quality sleep:
1) Plain Greek Yogurt
Found in fridges across the land, plain, naturally low-in-sugar Greek yogurt is a body’s dairy-friendly “bestie”. It contains calcium, protein, probiotics (for your gut health), iodine, vitamin B12 and vitamin D. The latter helps regulate the immune system and boosts the body’s natural defenses against illness.
Another bonus? A study published in 2016 found that those who consumed 100 grams of yogurt a day, or took a daily probiotic capsule, felt less anxiety, depression and stress than those who did not. The study concludes that this is likely because of the brain-gut relationship and the ability of the gut to make serotonin and dopamine, the neurotransmitters that help with the aforementioned conditions.
Get Your Daily Dose:
- Make a quick breakfast parfait: layer your plain Greek yogurt with a drizzle of maple syrup, slices of fresh banana, mango, and blueberries or strawberries. Add a few magnesium-rich pepitas or dry-roasted nuts on top for crunch (magnesium helps nerve and muscle function).
- Top a big, hearty bowl of multi-bean chili or your favorite soup with yogurt instead of sour cream.
- Add to casseroles, pasta or rice dishes instead of cream for a probiotic kick!
Apart from being a key spice in everyone’s pumpkin spice latte, cinnamon (we’re talking about “true” or Ceylon cinnamon), is also prized for a slew of health benefits. It’s high levels of cinnamaldehyde, known to ward off bacteria and infections, is part of what makes this delicious spice so valued. In fact, cultures around the world use cinnamon as a natural food preservative. High in antioxidants, it’s also an anti-inflammatory that helps fight infections and repair tissue damage.
Get Your Daily Dose:
- Swirl Ceylon cinnamon into your favorite herbal tea or even a good cup of coffee (think of it as your very own Mexican-style coffee).
- Sprinkle onto cubed and roasted butternut, acorn or gem squash.
- Use in root vegetable-based soups, curries and stews.
- Add to your mid-afternoon smoothie with one whole banana, a cup of your favorite juice (lychee, orange, pineapple all work), a half cup of Greek yogurt or plain kefir, 1/4 teaspoon of Ceylon cinnamon (plus extra for sprinkling on top) and a heaping cup of ice cubes. Blend, pour, dust with a little extra cinnamon, sip and savor!
3) Citrus Fruit
Citrus is high in vitamin C, which increases the production of white blood cells used to fight off infections. So squeeze every drop of golden goodness from oranges, grapefruits, lemons, limes, mandarins, pomelos, tangelos and the like! Did you know your body doesn’t store or produce this vitamin? So make sure you enjoy your citrus fruits daily!
Get Your Daily Dose Of Citrus:
- Lemon and lime juice brighten up anything from a salad dressing, freshly grilled piece of fish, chicken, pork, taco, dip or drink!
- Use citrus zest in desserts, homemade granola or with fresh herbs for a rub, marinade or drizzle.
- Squeeze the juice of tart citrus (lemon or lime), add fresh ginger and honey, and warm in a small saucepan, then let it cool. This elixir becomes the perfect way to add an immune-boosting punch to a cup of herbal tea, or mixed with water for a refreshing drink.
Grab a cuppa and drink up, because tea — whether green, black or white — delivers antioxidants, disease-fighting polyphenols and flavonoids in every sip.
Green tea in particular is being studied for its ability to naturally affect the number of regulatory T cells, which can improve immune function.
Get Your Daily Dose (Beyond The Cup):
- Steep your favorite tea in coconut milk, cream or any other liquid to infuse its flavor into anything — from rice puddings, ice creams, custards, risottos, soups and poached fish to vinaigrettes.
- Use dry black or green tea leaves to smoke meat or fish — the flavor it imparts is unique and delicious.
- The tannins in strong-brewed black tea make a great meat tenderizer. Marinate your meat for several hours before grilling or roasting for next-level results.
Oatmeal isn’t just for breakfast. This soluble fiber-rich, cholesterol-lowering superfood (it’s true, check out this British Journal of Nutrition study), is good most any time of the day, in a variety of ways.
Extra points for the beta-glucans naturally found in oats that helps boost infection-fighting blood cells. It doesn’t hurt that oats also have zinc and selenium, two nutrients known for helping to keep infection at bay. Oh, and thanks to the tryptophan found in oats (an amino-acid the brain turns into serotonin), your body can relax so that you can get a better night’s sleep!
Get Your Daily Dose Of Oats:
- A savory oatmeal with 1 cup of cooked steel cut oats, one soft-boiled egg, a handful of garlic-sautéed vitamin C-rich greens (baby kale, spinach or chopped Swiss chard), 2 slices of smoked salmon, a drizzle of olive oil, freshly ground black pepper and a dollop of Greek yogurt with a snip of fresh chives makes for a filling, tasty light lunch.
- Combine quick oats with your favorite nut butter, dark chocolate chips, honey, dried fruit, chopped walnuts, warming spices like cinnamon or ginger, and you’ve got power balls that work as hard as you do!
- Throw a handful of rolled oats in your meatballs, meatloaf or burgers instead of bread crumbs. You get a fiber boost and the nutty nuance of oats — a win win.
Giving your immune system a helping hand is as delicious as it is good for you. Read about what to eat for an energetic day and restful sleep and a variety of smoothies to power your year.
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