Resolved to be Healthier in 2024? You are not Alone!
Acknowledgement to Sally Falkow and Ulan Nutritional Systems, Inc, for this article.
The Forbes Health/OnePoll survey of 1,000 U.S. adults conducted in October 2023 found that there has been a change of focus to improving physical health as a New Year’s Resolution in 2024.
Mental health and improving nutrition are also in the top five goals for the 2024 New Year’s resolutions.
These three items are very closely linked. While there are various ways to support improving your physical and mental health, one of the most effective approaches is the idea that you can ‘eat yourself well.’
Your body is amazing. It has the ability to heal itself. It is replacing cells all the time, but it needs the right nutrients to be able to do this effectively. Without the right “building blocks” your body can’t do its job.
You’ve probably heard the phrase, “You can’t out-exercise a bad diet.”
So, if you are keen to improve your physical health in 2024, the place to start is with your nutrition.
Consuming a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins is crucial for supplying your body with the nutrients it needs to function at its best – both physically and mentally.
There are other factors that affect your health – such as lifestyle and stress.
By incorporating these strategies into your daily routine and prioritizing proper nutrition, you can maximize your body’s natural defense mechanisms and improve your overall well-being.
Let’s dive into the world of nutrition and learn how ‘eating yourself well’ can help you achieve your New Year’s Resolution.
Key nutrients for a strong immune system
Your immune system is a complex network of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to defend the body against harmful ‘bugs’ such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites. It plays a crucial role in maintaining overall health and well-being.
When your immune system is functioning properly, it can recognize and destroy foreign invaders, keeping you healthy. However, when the immune system is weakened or compromised, it becomes more difficult for your body to fend off infections.
Finding the right nutrients for your body
As each body is different and reacts differently to foods and outside factors like environmental stressors, it is important to work with a healthcare professional who can help you narrow down the exact nutrients your body needs to improve your physical and mental health.
What may be right for you will probably not be right for your neighbor or your friend.
This individual response means that instead of a hit-and-miss approach to your diet, you need to work with a practitioner who can test and discover exactly what nutrients your body needs to be able to ‘eat yourself well’.
Nutrition Response Testing® is a technique that has been developed over many years and is a safe, non-invasive method of finding the exact nutrients you need to achieve optimal health.
Foods that are rich in immune-boosting nutrients
Consuming a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins is crucial for supplying your body with the nutrients it needs to function at its best.
Vitamin C is one of the most well-known nutrients for immune health. It promotes the production of white blood cells, which are essential for fighting off infections. Citrus fruits, such as oranges and grapefruits, are excellent sources of vitamin C.
Vitamin D is another important nutrient that supports immune function. It helps regulate the immune system and enhances the body’s response to infections. You can get vitamin D from sunlight, as well as from foods like fatty fish, fortified dairy products, and egg yolks.
Zinc is a mineral that plays a vital role in immune health. It helps the immune system function properly and aids in wound healing. Foods rich in zinc include oysters, beef, poultry, beans, and nuts.
The importance of a balanced diet for immune health
Certain foods are particularly beneficial for boosting immunity due to their high content of immune-boosting nutrients. Including these foods in your diet can provide your body with the necessary tools to fight off infections and stay healthy.
Citrus fruits, such as oranges, lemons, and grapefruits, are excellent sources of vitamin C. They are not only refreshing but also packed with antioxidants that help protect your cells from damage.
Berries, such as strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries, are rich in antioxidants, which can help strengthen the immune system. They are also high in fiber, which supports digestive health.
Leafy greens, such as spinach, kale, and Swiss chard, are loaded with vitamins A, C, and E, as well as several antioxidants. These nutrients work together to boost immune function and protect against harmful pathogens.
Garlic is known for its strong aroma and flavor, but it also has powerful immune-boosting properties. It contains sulfur compounds that stimulate the immune system and help fight off infections.
Ginger is another spice that has been used for centuries for its medicinal properties. It has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, which can support immune function and reduce inflammation in the body.
Yogurt is a probiotic-rich food that helps support a healthy gut, which is essential for a strong immune system. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that promote a healthy balance of gut flora, which in turn supports immune function.
Here are a few recipes and meal ideas to help you incorporate immune-boosting foods into your diet:
Immune-Boosting Smoothie: Blend together spinach, kale, berries, Greek yogurt, and a splash of orange juice for a nutritious and delicious smoothie packed with immune-boosting nutrients.
Garlic Roasted Chicken: Marinate chicken breasts with garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice, then roast until golden and tender. Serve with a side of roasted vegetables for a complete immune-boosting meal.
Quinoa Salad with Citrus Dressing: Combine cooked quinoa with mixed greens, chopped citrus fruits, avocado, and a tangy citrus dressing for a refreshing and nutrient-packed salad.
Ginger Turmeric Tea: Brew a cup of ginger turmeric tea by steeping fresh ginger and turmeric in hot water. Add a squeeze of lemon and a drizzle of honey for added flavor and immune-boosting properties.
While certain foods are known for their immune-boosting properties, it’s important to remember that a balanced diet is crucial for overall immune health. Consuming a variety of nutrient-dense foods ensures that your body gets all the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants it needs to function optimally.
In addition to fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins, whole grains are an important part of a healthy immune-boosting diet. They provide fiber, B vitamins, and minerals that support immune function and overall health.
It’s also important to limit the consumption of processed foods, sugary snacks, and beverages, as they can weaken the immune system and contribute to inflammation in the body. Instead, opt for whole, unprocessed foods that provide the necessary nutrients to support immune health.
Supplementing your diet for immune support
In addition to proper nutrition, several lifestyle factors can impact your immune system and overall health.
Stress management is crucial for a healthy immune system. Chronic stress can weaken the immune system and make you more susceptible to infections. Find healthy ways to manage stress, such as practicing yoga, meditation, or engaging in hobbies that bring you joy.
Regular exercise is another important factor that supports physical health. Exercise not only improves cardiovascular health and strengthens muscles but also enhances immune function. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise most days of the week.
Adequate sleep is essential for a strong immune system. During sleep, your body repairs and rejuvenates itself, including the immune system. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night to support immune function.
If improving your physical and mental health are on your 2024 goals list, consider starting by improving your nutrition so that your body can operate at an optimum level – both physically and mentally.