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Healthy Living: Foods that help and harm your immune system

SEATTLE, Wash.,– It is safe to say a lot of us are doing everything we can when it comes to our health right now. Nutritionist Deborah Enos and Ali Bradley took a walk through Ballard Market to find some things to help us fight the good fight of staying healthy.

Enos says, “Vitamin C is super fantastic for your immune system, but a lot of people think this is the number one piece of produce for vitamin c… it is not…  Bell peppers have twice as much vitamin c as oranges. Also, not a lot of sugars, so these are gonna be great for your immune system and really boost it for a long period of time.”

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Enos says she loves blueberries for their immune boosting components. She says the berry have something called flavonoids and flavonoids have been shown in research to help limit upper respiratory issues.

Enos says, "It can really help to fight off colds and flus.”

When it comes to cooking with garlic, Enos says, "It is so beneficial it’s a fantastic antibacterial, put it in everything you eat, from eggs to vegetable, to curry dishes. But here’s a key tip, when you chop it up, let it sit on your cutting board for a little bit and that antibacterial impact will actually multiply." Enos says that releases the allicin which has been found to reduce inflammation and offer antioxidant benefits.

When it comes to nuts and seeds, Enos will take a handful of sunflower seeds for her health.

"What I like about sunflower seeds, super high in vitamin e—vitamin e is a fantastic antioxidant and it has been shown in research to help limit upper respiratory infections, so fantastic for immune-boosting especially in this season that we are in right now.”

While these things can boost your immune system, there are some temptations on store shelves that will wreak havoc on your immunity.

Enos says while it is easy to grab, avoid things with a lot of added sugar, “Sugar will annihilate your immune system. It will literally turn down your response by about 4 or 5 hours."

Enos says fruit will not impact you this way because it is natural sugar.

You may be tempted to grab something that may help calm your fears and anxiety right now, like alcohol. Enos says that will harm your immune system, “I have to tell you, as sad as this makes me, that alcohol will weaken your immune system. So you really need to drink in moderation.  Just that sugar hit just really dials down the immune system and weakens it for quite a few hours."

Deborah also talked about Vitamin D being a key nutrient that supports a healthy immune system. High quantities of vitamin D are present in oily fish and certain types of mushrooms. There’s also vitamin D in egg yolks of free-range chickens.

 

From Nutritionist Deborah Enos:

In this season of unrest due to the corona virus, I am getting inundated with requests to talk about methods to naturally boost the immune system. The foods we consume can play a pivotal role in how well our immune systems function. There is some evidence that various micronutrient deficiencies, for example, deficiencies of zinc, selenium, iron, copper, folic acid, and vitamins A, B6, C, and E; may alter immune responses.

Here’s a few of my favorite foods that can help to boost your immune system.

· Blueberries contain a type of flavonoid called anthocyanin, which has antioxidant properties that can help boost a person’s immune system. A 2016 study noted that flavonoids play an essential role in the respiratory tract’s immune defense system. Researchers found that people who ate foods rich in flavonoids were less likely to get an upper respiratory tract infection, or common cold, than those who did not.

Key point: the blueberries don’t have to be fresh for you to get this immune boosting benefit-frozen is just a fine. I add blueberries to green smoothies, yogurt and breakfast bowl.

· Garlic is a common home remedy for the prevention of colds and other illness. It has been studied in pill form and the group of participants taking a placebo had more than double the number of colds between them than those taking the garlic supplements. However, the researchers concluded that more research is necessary to determine whether or not garlic can help to prevent colds.

How I use it: I don’t take garlic supplements; I just add garlic to my food. I add it to grilled veggies and use it in most of my salad dressings and marinades.

· Sunflower seeds are a rich source of vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant. Vitamin E improves immune function. It does this by fighting off free radicals, which can damage cells.

How is use them: I add Sunflower seeds to salads, avocado toast and breakfast bowls.

· Vitamin D is a key nutrient that supports a healthy immune system. Vitamin D is when a person’s skin has exposure to direct sunlight. People can also consume vitamin D, but it is not naturally present in many foods. High quantities of vitamin D are present in oily fish and certain types of mushrooms. There’s also vit D in egg yolks of free range chickens.

One study discovered that individuals with low vit D levels were more likely to report infections of the upper respiratory tract.

How I get more vit D from food: I consume more fatty fish such as herring, tuna and salmon.

Here are my top two picks of foods/beverages that will weaken your immune system:

· Sugary & processed foods such as soda, candy, muffins & sugary coffee concoctions.

Sugar is hard on the immune system. I’ve read some studies that suggest that after consuming processed sugar (not sugar from whole foods such as an apple or an orange) that the immune system can ‘dial down’ for a few hours.

· Alcohol. I know this is the last advice you’d really like to hear right now but many researchers do suggest that alcohol (the amount is unclear) can weaken the immune system.

 

For more from Deborah, click here.

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