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Health Habits for Sick Season 

Having a strong immune system is crucial for staying healthy and resilient, especially through the winter months when everyone around you is getting sick. While there's no magic bullet for preventing illness, adopting a nutrient-rich diet can significantly enhance your body's natural defense mechanisms. Here are some tips to help support your immune system this winter: 

  1. Prioritize Protein: Protein is essential for building and repairing tissues, including those involved in immune response. Incorporate lean sources of protein such as poultry, fish, eggs, legumes, and tofu into your diet. These provide amino acids necessary for producing immune-supporting antibodies.

  2. Load Up on Fruits and Vegetables: Incorporate a rainbow of fruits and vegetables into your daily meals. These colorful foods are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that bolster immune function. Aim for a variety, including citrus fruits high in vitamin C, leafy greens rich in vitamin E, and beta-carotene-packed carrots and sweet potatoes.

3. Don't Skimp on Healthy Fats: Omega-3 fatty acids, found in foods such as salmon, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts, possess anti-inflammatory properties that can help improve immune function. Monounsaturated fats, commonly found in olive and avocado oil, can also be helpful for immune support. 

4. Stay Hydrated: Adequate hydration is essential for overall health and immune function. Aim to drink plenty of water throughout the day; a good estimate is 70-100 ounces, but you may need more if you are very active. 

5. Get Your Daily Dose of Vitamin D: Vitamin D plays a crucial role in immune regulation and defense against pathogens. Spend time outdoors to soak up natural sunlight and include vitamin D-rich foods such as fatty fish, fortified dairy products, and egg yolks.

6. Practice Mindful Eating: Stress can weaken the immune system, so it's essential to manage it effectively. Practice mindful eating by savoring each bite, eating slowly, and paying attention to hunger and fullness cues. 

A healthy immune system is about more than just diet. Other lifestyle factors, such as getting enough quality sleep, managing stress, and exercising regularly, also play a role. By eating a nutritious diet and practicing healthy lifestyle habits, you can give your immune system the best chance to fight off illness and keep you feeling your best! 

Shannon Braun PT, DPT, SMFA, Certified Functional Dry Needling L1, PN Level 1 Nutrition Certified Coach


National Institutes of Health:

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

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