As we reach the peak of sick season, it’s important to be fueling your body with immune boosting foods – especially this year! Consuming a well-rounded diet consisting of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other immune boosting foods is a great way to help your body fight off the flu or any other infections. The Tacoma Boys list of favorite immune boosting foods is the perfect place to start when incorporating more of these foods into your daily diet.
Immune Boosting Foods & Why They’re Important
Before we tap into immune boosting foods, let’s cover our immune system, what it is, and how it works for us. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, our immune system is “a network of intricate stages and pathways in the body, that protects us against these harmful microbes as well as certain diseases. It recognizes foreign invaders like bacteria, viruses, and parasites and takes immediate action.”
There are many different factors that play a role in a healthy immune system; sleep, stress, age, chronic illness, diet, and more. Although diet is only one component of a healthy immune system, it is an important one. A diet lacking certain micronutrients, vitamins, and minerals can lead to chronic inflammation and a weak immune system. This is why immune boosting foods are important – they have naturally occurring vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that help prepare your body to fight off any free radicals or unforeseen illness such as a common cold.
Fresh Local Produce
It should be no surprise that fresh local produce is on the list of immune boosting foods. All fresh and local produce have a wide variety of health benefits, and you can find a large selection of produce at your local Tacoma Boys.
Citrus is a common go-to food when people get sick due to its high Vitamin C content. According to Healthline, Vitamin C is known to increase white blood cells which are crucial for fighting infections. Some of the most common citrus fruits are:
Berries are among some of the highest antioxidant-rich foods. From blueberries to strawberries, raspberries, and even blackberries, incorporating these into your diet is a great way to give your immune system a boost.
There’s no denying that a diet rich in vegetables is beneficial all-around. Adding an abundance of various greens and other vegetables will aid in your vitamin and mineral intake. Try adding spinach to soup, spaghetti sauce, or a huge handful of mixed greens to a smoothie. There are many ways to incorporate these phytonutrient rich vegetables into your daily lifestyle.
Kale – high in fiber and a great source of Vitamin C, A, K, B6, and more
Spinach – great source of iron, Vitamin C, K, A, magnesium, and more
Mixed Greens – high in Vitamin A, C, beta-carotene, fiber, and more
Red Bell Peppers – source of Vitamin C, A, and beta-carotene – according to Healthline, red bell peppers contain 3x more Vitamin C than a Florida Orange
Broccoli – another high source of Vitamin C, fiber, and various vitamins and minerals
Aromatics are vegetables that add a depth of flavor to any dish. This can be spices, onions, garlic, and more. A lot of aromatics are packed full of nutrients which is why adding them to dishes is a great way to boost your food with additional vitamins and minerals.
Garlic is one of the most commonly used aromatics in the kitchen. But did you know that it packs a punch when it comes to nutrients? Garlic contains trace amounts of various vitamins and minerals and is loaded with Vitamin C, B6, manganese, fiber, and selenium. Adding extra garlic to soups when feeling unwell may have the ability to help your body heal faster.
Similar to garlic, onions are found in many dishes and recipes. Onions are high in Vitamin C and flavonoids which are known to be similar to antioxidants. These help your body naturally fight off any unwanted sickness.
Ginger & Turmeric
Ginger and turmeric are both aromatics that have been used in alternative medicine healing for years. Both are known to help decrease inflammation and aid in immune health. Ginger and turmeric can be found in its whole root form, or you can buy it dried and ground in the spice section. Pair these aromatics with tea, smoothies, soups, and more.
Fermented foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, and more have been shown to aid in a healthy immune system. When foods are fermented they gain a load of healthy bacteria commonly known and probiotics. Fermented foods are great for gut health, and a healthy gut positively affects your immune system by boosting the ability to fight off infections and viruses.
Be Kind to Your Immune System
As we are in unprecedented times, it’s even more important to be kind to our immune systems and give them a little extra boost! When you pop into your local Tacoma Boys, take a look around at the fresh fruits, vegetables, fermented foods, aromatics, local honey, bone broth, and more. There are endless ways to add a variety of these foods into your already existing diet. If you have any questions while shopping or are looking for a specific immune-boosting item, don’t hesitate to ask one of Tacoma Boys’ workers – we’re here to help!
We all know having a balanced, fruit and vegetable diet is important, right? After all, that’s what our parents always told us. However it seems most folks never took this advice to heart.
According to the USDA, we need 2.5 cups of veggies and 2 cups of fruit per day. However, the average American only consumes about 1.6 cups of veggies and 1 cup of fruit. How do fruits and vegetables fit into your diet plan?
Fruits and veggies contain all kinds of useful minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. They reduce the risk of chronic diseases, and can help your waistline. They can also be a great source of fiber.
That said, many of us struggle with maintaining a fruit and vegetable diet. If you belong in this group, here are 5 ways to enhance your fruit and veggie diet.
Change Your Approach
Change the way you think about fruits and vegetables.
All too often people associate fruit and vegetable diets with a bad experience, maybe from as far back as childhood. For example; They may associate sliced tomatoes with a slimy tomato they got on a stale sandwich or corn with salty canned corn served at their grandma’s house in the eighties.
The truth is, fruits and vegetables are amazing when selected and served correctly!
Instead of shopping for canned vegetables, buy them fresh from your local produce market. If you have any questions make sure to ask the employees.
Find new ways to serve your fruits and vegetables. Sliced, sautéed or baked with olive oil, salt and pepper.
Discover the variety of colors available with a fruit and vegetable diet. It’s truly amazing how a colorful meal can inspire a meal for friends and family.
Whether shopping for tonight’s dinner for one or a family’s meals for the week, think about which fruits and/or veggies would taste good with it. As you experiment and try different options, you will find the preferences of you and those around you.
Take It to the Road
Some of us get hungry while we’re out running errands or on the way home. This is a perfect opportunity to add another serving of fruits and vegetables into your diet!
Remember to pick convenient on-the-go snacks. Some good examples include baby carrots, blueberries, and celery sticks. Having a small container of almonds or walnuts is a shrewd choice that stores well and adds protein to your daily snacking.
The next time you are shopping at your local Tacoma Boys or H&L Produce, look into our dried vegetable and fruit options. Banana Chips and Wasabi Peas are age old favorites.
No matter which option you choose, your vegetables should always be stored in your fridge, ready for munching.
Think about what containers you use and where you place your vegetable snacks so that they are easily accessible.
While prepping your healthy snack time options, place a container of hummus or low-fat ranch near by. Having such dipping options handy will only increase your likelihood to maintain a solid fruit and vegetable diet.
Drink Your Fruits and Veggies
Processed juices are not a good way to increase your fruit intake. They are often high in sugar, low in key nutrients and honestly don’t tastes as good as freshly made juice. Instead, try making juices and smoothies on your own!
We often think of fruit when referring to juices and smoothies, but vegetables can be a healthy and delicious ingredient as well. Find fun ways to combine both fruits and vegetables depending on what’s in season and your desired end result.
Also, consider adding some other items to your smoothies. Avocados, almonds, and chia seeds are all a great fit. These foods add some healthy fats and nutrients while enhancing the fruity taste.
Beetroot smoothie in glass with ginger and fresh vegetables on wooden background
Find Your Favorites
With such a wide variety of fruits and veggies out there, it shouldn’t be too hard to find a handful you like. Once you have a couple of favorites, keep buying them.
By understanding your preferences and exploring the foods you like, you’ll be more likely to stick to your diet. There are so many different recipes and ways to prepare each fruit and vegetable.
That said, it would do you good to leave your comfort zone once in a while. After all, experimenting with new options is the easiest way to find a new favorite. It may be that you don’t care for fresh tomatoes, but absolutely love them sautéed or sun-dried! Maybe boiled or steamed broccoli has never been your thing, but baked with a little olive oil, salt and pepper is!
More on a Fruit and Vegetable Diet
Considering all the benefits of a fruit and vegetable diet, it’s a wonder why so many people choose to ignore it. Thankfully, it’s never too late to change your ways and increase your fruit and veggie intake.
Not sure where to get fresh produce in Tacoma, WA? You can always visit one of our three stores. We’ve got a great selection of fruit and vegetables at affordable prices!