Wellness Jackie’s Way: Turbo charge your immunity

What can we do to fortify ourselves against the winter cold and flu season? Well, besides obsessively washing our hands, the #1 source of germ transmission, there are a lot of tactics we can implement. And it revolves around the foods we choose to eat on a regular basis. Let’s look at two categories: Foods with Phytonutrients and Fermented Foods.

Phytonutrients: Just like a vehicle that needs gas to run, our immune system requires essential nutrients to work properly. Some of these nutrients are vitamin C, beta-carotene, zinc, omega 3’s and vitamin E to name a few. We need to flood our immune system with a constant and robust supply of such nutrients and in so doing the result is a turbocharged immunity. Therefore, eat an abundance of brightly colored fruits and vegetables and eat them often. Here is a list of my top choices for particularly valuable fruits and vegetables: berries, whole citrus, kiwi, apples, red grapes, spinach, onions, kale, sweet potatoes, and carrots.

The important point to make here is that these brightly colored fruits and vegetables contain phytochemicals which help make the immune system work more effectively and efficiently. Defining this word, phyto, Greek origin for “plant,” and chemicals also know as phytonutrients, are chemical compounds produced by plants which have health-protecting qualities and disease preventative properties. An example of one is antioxidants, which inhibit oxidation of free radicals within the body that are potentially damaging.

I prefer to set myself up for success, so I use Monday through Friday as my boundaries and strive to consume my list of top fruits and vegetables throughout the week as much as possible.

Fermented Foods: Our second food category of focus is fermented foods. The primary reason we want to ingest fermented foods is to fortify our gut, the birthplace of our immunity, with as much good bacteria as possible. The gut wall houses 70 percent of cells that make up our immune system. These cells spend their days producing antibiotics to neutralize damaging toxins. The gut is where the outside world, bacteria, meets the inside world, our immune system. And so it needs to be strong and the balance of good and beneficial bacteria should outweigh the bad bacteria. Eating fermented foods will increase your beneficial bacteria. In fact, fermented foods contain massive amounts of beneficial bacteria and live active cultures more than you can get in any supplement.

Shopping for fermented foods is easier today because the word is out that these foods are hot! All fermented foods need to be refrigerated in order to keep the live active cultures functioning,  so look for fermented foods in the various refrigerated areas of the grocery stores.  Let’s start with Tempeh, fermented soybeans and an assortment of krauts such as kimchi or regular sour kraut. Some people love them, and some hate them. But keep in mind that you only need a small dose each day to reap the benefits. We can handle that! Next, head to the dairy section. Yogurt and kefir are your sources of live active cultures. Most people know about the benefits of eating yogurt. But kefir, which can be described as liquid yogurt, is like getting a microbiome transplant. The amount of beneficial bacteria in just one tablespoon of kefir is phenomenal. And then there is kombucha, a fermented tea beverage which is filled with microorganisms and sometimes added nutrients like chia seeds. There are so many different brands of fermented tea and some contain a lot of sugar so take that into consideration when you choose your tea. Remember that you only need about 2 ounces in one sitting to fuel your gut.

You can find all of these types of foods in most grocery stores. They are readily available. And I believe if you make a few small changes particularly in preparation for the coming cold and flu season, you will be in better shape to cruise through the winter without illness. Give it a try.

 

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About Jackie Tate

Jackie Tate has been working in the health and fitness industry for 25 years. She has a master’s of science degree in health education and a bachelor’s of science degree in nutrition, both from Penn State. Early in her career she was recruited by Johnson & Johnson to work in their diabetes division during which time she earned her diabetes educator certification. In 2009, she developed a health and wellness consulting business. Tate’s Wellness Company enables her to work with individuals to create personalized dietary plans using a one-on-one consultation approach. She conducts personal training sessions and leads fitness classes at Way Martial Arts in West Chester, Darlington Arts in Garnet Valley, and the Concord Country Club in Concord Township. Jackie is a certified fitness trainer, Silver Sneakers and zumba Instructor. Additionally, she teaches nutrition to students attending the Academy of International Ballet in Glen Mills. Lamb McErlane, PC is one of Jackie’s corporate clients where she delivers nutritious Lunch N Learn sessions for employees as part of their on-going commitment to wellness. Jackie has a passion for inspiring people to lead healthier lifestyles through optimal nutrition and fitness. Tate4foodandfitness.com Tate4foodandfitness@verizon.net

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