It’s the beginning of a busy new season, and for many of us, fall brings the smell of fresh air, colorful leaves, apple picking, pumpkin treats, and other fun fall stuff. But some people worry about getting sick in the fall with things like allergies, colds, and the flu. All this, plus our busy schedules and upcoming holidays, can make us feel stressed.
When we’re stressed, we might not make the healthiest food choices. We might want to eat high-calorie comfort foods that have lots of fat, salt, and sugar. These foods can fill our stomachs, but they don’t give our bodies the important nutrients they need to stay healthy, especially our immune system, which helps fight off infections.
To stay healthy and support our immune system, it’s important to eat foods that have the right nutrients. You can learn about these nutrients and make a healthy grocery shopping list for yourself and your family.
Here are some nutrients you need more of:
- Fiber: Foods with fiber help with digestion, keep us full, and help our immune system by keeping bad bacteria away from our guts.
- Magnesium: This mineral helps many parts of our body work well, including our immune and nervous systems, muscles, and energy production.
- Vitamin D: We usually think of calcium for our bones, but our bones also need vitamin D to use calcium. Vitamin D also helps our muscles and our immune system fight off germs.
- Potassium: It helps our nerves and muscles work properly and keeps our blood pressure in check. Potassium also helps our body turn food into energy.
- Iron: Iron helps carry oxygen to our cells and tissues. If we don’t have enough iron, we can become anemic, and our immune system might not work as well.
You can find these nutrients in foods that you can buy in bulk and keep for a long time. Here are some foods to stock up on:
- Dry goods: Oatmeal, lentils, and whole-grain pasta and cereal are good sources of fiber, iron, and magnesium. Some cereals also have vitamin D, but make sure to get “whole grain” ones.
- Fruits and vegetables: They have fiber and potassium. Carrots, pumpkins, and sweet potatoes have beta-carotene, which turns into vitamin A in our bodies and helps our immune system and skin.
- Vegetables: Onions, potatoes, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and carrots last a long time. Frozen fruits and veggies have the same nutrients as fresh ones, so keep them in your freezer.
- Fermented foods: They have good bacteria that help your digestion. Some, like tempeh or Greek yogurt, also have plant-based protein and calcium. These foods last a while.
- Canned foods: They have a long shelf life. Look for low-sodium options. Get tomatoes, beans, broth, tuna, salmon, sardines, chicken, and nuts. You can also find canned vegetables like corn, pumpkin, and chili peppers with less salt.
The best way to keep your immune system strong is to follow healthy habits like eating good food and exercising regularly. Learning about the nutrients your body needs and including them in your meals can help you stay healthy in the fall and enjoy all the fun fall activities.
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