Lifestyle Factors with Harmons Dietitian Genevieve Daly
Our immune system is amazing when it comes to fighting off disease causing micro-organisms, but it never hurts to give it an extra boost. There are some obvious lifestyle factors that can influence our immune system- exercising regularly, getting adequate sleep, washing hands frequently, getting a flu shot from your local Harmons pharmacy.
But diet can also play a major role in ramping up our immune system.
Staying hydrated keeps your mucus membranes moist and helps your immune system function efficiently.
Studies have tried to establish a recommended amount of daily water intake, but factors like age and physical activity will cause water needs to vary. Generally speaking, shoot for 1-2 liters per day, or the amount needed to make your urine light yellow. Sources can also include tea, coffee, and broth.
Vitamin A... Why?
Helps regulate the immune system and protects from infections by keeping skin and tissues in the mouth, stomach, intestines and respiratory system healthy.
700 mcg/day for women, 900 mcg/day for men. Sources include sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach, peppers, kale, and broccoli.
Vitamin C... Why?
Protects you from infection by stimulating the formation of antibodies and boosting immunity. There is evidence that high doses of vitamin C prior to getting a cold may decrease the length of cold symptoms by as much as one to one-and-a-half days for some people.
75 mg/day for women, 90 mg/day for men. Sources include citrus fruit, tomatoes, potatoes, strawberries, green and red bell peppers, broccoli, Brussel sprouts and kiwi.
Vitamin E... Why?
Works as an antioxidant, neutralizes free radicals and may improve immune function.
15 mg/day for both men and women. Sources include wheat germ oil, sunflower seeds, almonds, spinach, avocado and trout.
Zinc plays a role in more than 300 enzymes influencing various organ functions having with effects on the immune system. Zinc has also been shown to increase the production of white blood cells in the body.
8 mg/day for women, 11 mg/day for men. Sources include seafood, fortified breakfast cereals, beans, nuts, and red meat.
**”Mega doses” of vitamins have not been shown to have a benefit beyond the recommended daily allowance, and can actually lead to kidney stones, nausea and diarrhea.
Sweet Potato and Bean Stuffed Pasilla Peppers
5 pasilla peppers
15 oz can low sodium black beans, drained
5.5 oz can corn, drained
1 ½ cups Harmons restaurant style salsa
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1 cup shredded reduced fat cheese
1 avocado, sliced
Chopped cilantro for garnish
1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2.) Slice pasilla peppers in half. Seed and place in glass baking dish.
3.) Rinse sweet potato and poke about 4 holes with a fork.
4.) Microwave for 3-4 minutes to soften.
5.) In a large bowl, combine beans, corn, salsa, red bell pepper, sweet potato, and spices. Stir until well combined.
6.) Spoon mixture evenly into each pasilla pepper slice, then top with cheese.
7.) Cover the baking dish with tin foil and place in oven. Bake for 30-40 minutes.
8.) Top pasilla peppers with slices of avocado and chopped cilantro.
Serving size: 2 peppers; 270 Calories; 10g Total Fat (3.5g Saturated); 740mg Sodium; 34g Carbohydrates; 12g Dietary Fiber; 6g Sugar; 15g Protein