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Foods To Promote Immune Function

With the flu and other viruses spreading around this Winter season, many people wonder which foods they can eat to promote immune function. There are various methods to prevent illness as well as ways to help recover from an illness faster. Below are some methods you can use to promote healthy immune function.

  • Ensure you are consuming adequate calories, protein, carbohydrate, and fat to maintain energy balance and support exercise energy expenditure.
  • When exercising, consume carbohydrates before, during, and after long training sessions to offset the suppressive effect of exercise on immune function.
  • Eat foods rich in antioxidants (colorful fruits and vegetables) daily to combat oxidative stress.
  • Select lean protein foods, especially those containing iron and zinc, to support immune function.
    • Lean ground beef with a spinach salad is a great option.
  • Include foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids that possess anti-inflammatory properties in your daily diet.
  • Ensure Vitamin D adequacy to promote immune defense.
  • Choose foods that contain probiotics to enhance gastrointestinal and immune health.
  • Fruits rich in antioxidants include oranges, cantaloupe, papaya, berries, apples.
  • Vegetables rich in antioxidants include sweet potatoes, broccoli, carrots, spinach, bell peppers, asparagus, onions and beets.
  • Protein sources include chicken, turkey, fish, beef, dairy, eggs, legumes and soy foods.
  • Vitamin D Sources include fish (salmon, sardines, tuna), fortified foods (milk, orange juice, tofu, soy beverages, some cereals)
  • Foods that contain probiotics such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium include yogurt, kefir and milk.

Don’t forget these two steps to take home with you:

  • Follow a well-balanced eating program that meets your energy, carbohydrate, protein, and micro-nutrient needs.
  • Select a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and protein-rich foods.

If you’d like to learn more about nutrition or know someone who would benefit from physical therapy services at Loudoun Sports Therapy Center, give us a call today at 703-450-4300 to schedule an appointment with one of our physical therapists. Be sure to check out our website www.loudounsportstherapy.com for the latest health news and tips.

Source: 2011 Sports, Cardiovascular, and Wellness Nutrition (SCAN); Nutrition Fact Sheet, Issue 16, January 2011