Brittney Bearden, MEd, RD, CSSD, LD
Sports Dietitian, Ben Hogan Sports Medicine
Nothing can interrupt your training and athletic performance like sickness. Maintaining a balanced diet helps strengthen the immune system to prevent down time due to illness. Along with diet, lifestyle habits like sleeping 7-8 hours at night, regular exercise, proper hydration and periodic hand washing can help prevent sickness. Listed below are four nutrient-packed foods recommended to help keep your immune system strong:
Red Bell Peppers: Red bell peppers are a rich source of Vitamin C, containing approximately 2 times the amount of an orange. Incorporate red bell peppers into snacks by dipping slices in hummus or guacamole. At meals include red bell peppers in a salad, stir-fry or make stuffed bell peppers.
Almonds: Full of healthy omega-3 fats, vitamin E, magnesium, and manganese, almonds are a great snack or salad topping. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps protect the body against oxidative stress and just a 1-ounce serving of almonds provides 37% of the recommended daily intake.
Yogurt: Probiotics or “live active cultures” found in yogurt and other naturally fermented foods help feed the digestive tract with healthy bacteria. A healthy digestive system increases immunity, as the majority of the immune system is located in the digestive tract. Greek yogurt is a great snack not only for the probiotic content, but also supplies muscle-building protein.
Sweet potatoes: The skin is the largest organ in the body and plays a protective role in the immune system. Vitamin A aids in the production of connective tissue, which is an important component of skin. Sweet potatoes are full of beta-carotene, which the body converts to Vitamin A. Bake sweet potatoes whole or thinly slice and drizzle with olive oil and seasonings for homemade sweet potato fries.