Boost your immune system with healthy meals

January 6, 2010 4:42:15 PM PST
Keep your family healthy this flu season by boosting their immunity with these simple meal plans.

Jae's Suggested Meal Plans:

Homemade Chicken Soup
Mom's favorite medicine is a good choice! An amino acid released from chicken during cooking can actually mimic a common bronchitis drug, which explains why you feel so good after a nice bowl. Also, the broth is soothing and can act like a cough syrup by coating the throat.

Enjoy a yummy bowl and feel the benefits!

Homemade Barley and Bean Soup & Oat Muffins
Oats and barley- These grains contain beta-glucan, a type of fiber with antimicrobial and antioxidant capabilities. The soluble fiber works like a gel in the gut and can help catch bacteria.

Incorporating these grains into your daily diet through oatmeal, barley soup and oatmeal cookies.

Sweet potatoes, Carrots, Pumpkin and squash
These foods are rich in beta carotene which is a derivative of Vitamin A. Vitamin A plays an essential role in keeping our skin tissue strong and healthy.

Remember, the skin is the largest organ of the body. Think of the skin is the bouncer at bar-it protects us from all the bad guys! Eating foods rich in beta carotene not only makes our outer skin layer strong, but also improves the mucous membranes in our noses to keep out germs as well. It is our first defense system-keep it strong!

Grilled Flank Steak with Mushrooms and Garlic
Beef- Zinc deficiency is very common among American adults, especially for vegetarians and those who've cut back on beef, a prime source of this immunity-bolstering mineral.

Zinc however is essential in the diet as it plays a key role in the development of white blood cells, key immunity cells to protect us.

A 3-ounce serving of lean beef (abount the size that could fit into your palm) provides about 30 percent of the daily value for zinc. If you are a strict vegetarian or just don't like red mea try zinc-rich oysters, fortified cereals, pork, poultry, yogurt or milk.

Mushrooms
Our favorite fungus increases the production and activity of our bodyguard, the white blood cell. Shiitake and maitake mushrooms appear to pack the biggest immunity punch so slice them into your next omelet, add them to a pizza or throw them into your next stir fry.

Garlic
Garlic's active ingredient allicin can fight infection and bacteria so much so that a study found that those who took garlic extract for 12 weeks were two-thirds less likely to get a cold. Add crushed garlic to your cooking several times a week to get the benefits.

Roasted Beet Salad with Citrus Fruits
Vitamin C is a huge antioxidant and plays a strong role in boosting our immunity system. Add oranges and grapefruits as snacks, add fresh lime juice to sparkling water and marinate chicken or fish in fresh lemon juice for a great tasting entrée for dinner.

Attune Bars
Probiotics- Probiotics, or the "live active cultures" found in Attune Bars, yogurt and kefir, are healthy bacteria that keep the gut and intestinal tract free of disease-causing germs. This good bacteria is essential in improving our immunity. Often our gut is low in good bacteria from too much antibiotic use or high intake of processed foods.

Incorporating probiotic rich foods daily will make a big difference so add these foods to snacks daily.

Fish and Shellfish
Selenium can increase immune cell production of a protein called cytokines which is a huge player in getting viruses out of the body. Selenium is founds in shellfish such as oysters, lobsters, crabs and clams and also canned tuna.

Omega 3 fatty acids found in fatty fish such as wild salmon and sardines can significantly help with inflammation.

Tea
A Harvard Study found that those who drank 5 cups of black tea a day for 2 weeks dramatically increased the strength of immune cells. As the seasons change swap a glass of water or a cup of joe for a cup of hot tea from time to time.

Wash your hands: This is the best thing you can do-seems too simple but washing hands saves lives. Use the hottest water you can stand and with soap wash your hands under the faucet long enough sing "Happy Birthday" twice. Always wash hands before handling food.

Clean your house/car/work: Clean your walls, counters, phones, keyboards, door handles, steering wheels-any place where there may be germs. Especially when someone in your house is sick. Keep track of what you touch and clean regularly.

About Jae Berman, MS, RD:

Brief Bio: As Western Athletic Club's Regional Registered Dietitian for San Francisco and Marin, Jae Berman, MS, RD motivates and empowers clients to achieve break-throughs in personal health, fitness, wellness and life-balance-on their own terms.

Her goal is to create programs that allow her clients to have a positive relationship with food, and therefore a positive relationship with their bodies.

Jae is also a certified personal trainer and yoga instructor, and carefully integrates her understanding of these disciplines into customized fitness programs for clients.

Her specialties include nutrition for weight loss, wellness, sports nutrition, cardiovascular nutrition, digestive disorders, eating disorders and blood glucose control.

Jae holds a master's degree in Applied Physiology and Nutrition at Columbia University, and completed her dietetic internship at UCSF Medical Center. She is credentialed through the American Dietetic Association and is an ACSM Health Fitness Specialist.

For more information, visit www.jaebermannutrition.com


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