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Preparation is Prevention

“The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today.” – H.Jackson Brown, Jr.

With winter on the horizon there are a lot of things we do to prepare our homes and cars for this season but have you considered preparing your body? 

NOW is the time to boost our immune system to help us fight off those nasty cold weather bugs!

Of course we all know that getting plenty of rest and good handwashing will go a long way to prevention of disease, but our diet may be able to help us as well this winter. There are many foods that have great potential to strengthen our immune system. Below are a few examples of foods to start consuming on a regular basis as we prepare our bodies for winter.

 1. Green peas- 1 cup of green peas contain 8X the amount of protein as spinach. They also contain almost 100% of your daily value of vitamin C which we all know supports a healthy immune system. They make a great side dish along with a lean meat for dinner or are a plant protein source for salads.

 2. Pumpkin seeds- ½ cup of pumpkin seeds contain 8g. of protein which is 20% more than an egg.  They are also high in Iron, Potassium, and Zinc. Zinc is also known to boost our immune system. Pumpkin seeds can be a tasty mid-morning snack or added to salads.

 3. Sun dried tomatoes- 1 cup of the sun dried tomatoes contains 6g. protein and 7g of fiber.  They will provide 50% of your RDA of vitamin C and are rich in vitamins A and K. Tomatoes also are a rich source of antioxidants which may help prevent DNA damage reducing our risk to cancer. Lycopene in tomatoes may prevent coronary artery disease.  Sun dried tomatoes are delicious on a homemade pizza or can be added when making hummus.

 4. Carrots- Carrots contain 200% of your RDA of vitamin A. Vitamin A  helps regulate T-cells also known as the immune systems little warriors.  Raw carrots make a great snack, are delicious roasted, and can be added to stews or made into a soup.

 5. Wild Salmon- Wild Salmon is known for containing heart healthy omega 3 fatty acids but it is also contains a rich supply of vitamin D. Keeping our vitamin D levels stable during the winter may reduce our susceptibility to illnesses and have been shown to prevent upper respiratory infections. Salmon cooks very well on the grill or is easily baked in the oven.

 6. Strawberries and citrus fruits- These sweet fruits are a great source of Vitamin C and make handy snacks throughout your day or are delicious in smoothies.

 7.  Yogurt- Greek style yogurts or homemade yogurts (free from excessive sugar) provide our guts with a healthy dose of probiotics. A lot of research is supporting that having a “healthy gut” is related to having a strong immune system.  Yogurt is also a source of Zinc.  Try yogurt as a topping instead of sour cream. Yogurt is delicious for breakfast with some of those healthy pumpkin seeds and strawberries mentioned above.

Jamie Dannemiller, Health & Wellness Program Coordinator
North Canton YMCA