Whether you’re a frontline worker or working from home while trying to homeschool three kids, it is more important than ever to stay healthy and operating on all cylinders. Botton line: your life needs you healthy. While there is no magic pill to ward off illness, there are a few tried-and-true ways to keep your immune system humming:
Eat More Fruits & Veggies
Your mother has been telling you to eat more fruits and veggies since you were too short to ride rollercoasters. As it turns out, there might have been some science behind all of mom’s nagging.
Whole foods like fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and beans are nutrient-dense and rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants help decrease inflammation which has been linked to a myriad of chronic health conditions including heart disease, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, and obesity.5
Only 1 out of every 10 adults meet the daily recommended servings of fruits and vegetables.6 But when you have a busy life and a tight schedule, how do you manage to get healthier food on your plate?
- Make a plan. Keep track of how many fruits and veggies you currently eat in a day. Then make a plan to slowly increase that amount. Swap that afternoon chips & dip for celery and hummus. Or maybe instead of fries on the side, you opt for a side salad. Small changes add up over time. Most adults should aim for 2-3 cups of vegetables8 and 1-2 cups of fruit per day.7
- Start with Breakfast: If you’re aiming to pack more nutrients into your day, it's worth starting the day off right. Try adding diced apples to your morning oatmeal or include mushrooms or tomatoes to your morning omelet for a savory breakfast.
- Buy prepared: If all the chopping, peeling, and dicing is a bit too overwhelming, pick up some pre-cut or pre-washed options at your local grocery store. Bagged salads and pre-cut fruits are a much better option than takeout.
- Spice it up: Most grocery stores have an entire aisle dedicated to adding more flavor to food. Every tried truffle salt? How about sesame butter? Don’t be afraid to experiment.
- Top it off: Make your veggies pop with flavored oils, toasted nuts, or a sprinkle of cheese.
- Soups & Smoothies: Soups and smoothies are a great way to sneak in extra nutrient-rich foods. Add a handful of spinach to a fruit smoothie for an energy boost, or sneak in puréed cauliflower to a soup to make it extra creamy. You won’t taste the difference, but your body will thank you!
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep and the immune system are closely connected. Consistent and quality sleep strengthens the immune system. The opposite is also true. Studies show that people who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to get sick if they are exposed to a virus, like the flu or common cold.1