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Boost Your Immune System with these Fall Delights

Autumn is officially here. It's the season of pumpkin everything! Pumpkin spice lattes, donuts, candies and of course … pumpkin pie! While pumpkin may dominate the landscape, there is a literal cornucopia of super foods that not only taste delicious, but are beneficial to boosting our immune systems.

With cold and flu season just around the corner, adding healthy options to your diet can do more than spice up your daily culinary intake. For elderly persons who may already have a weakened immune system, infusing their normal diet with these immune system boosters can make a marked difference in how they are able to handle the onslaught of winter illnesses.

Here are some of the most delectable fall offerings that will yield positive benefits for your immune system:

Apples:

Rich in Vitamin C, the pectin fiber in apples helps with digestion and antioxidants to fight disease. Apples can be eaten in their natural state, made into applesauce or slathered with peanut butter and covered in raisins (spoiler: raisins are also loaded with nutritional health benefits!).While not as healthy as eating them raw, a warm apple pie on a cool fall day is always delicious and not to be missed during the chilly fall months!

Pumpkin:

While we can find pumpkin flavor in just about everything this time of year, pumpkin seeds are especially healthy. The phytosterols found in these seeds can reduce bad cholesterol (LDL). They are also packed full of tryptophan, the same ingredient found in turkey. The good effect of tryptophan is it boosts serotonin production which plays a role in boosting overall mood. And for helping out our immune system, cooked pumpkin is laden with Vitamin C, an essential nutrient we all need.

Beets
Beets are great immune system boosters, but they also fight inflammation and heart disease. Beets are a naturally sweet root vegetable (they have the highest sugar content of all vegetables!) so they should be eaten in moderation. The leafy green portion of a beet is equally beneficial in strengthening the immune system, as well as supporting both bone and brain health.

Oats:
A creamy bowl of oatmeal can be a tasty way to start your morning. The fiber contained in oats can improve your immune system's response to bacterial infections. Purchasing raw oats (not pre-packaged servings) allows you to create your own recipe by adding fruit, maple syrup, butter or a touch of brown sugar. Chia seeds and ground flax provide a healthy boost to the digestive system.

Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potato fries have been a popular menu item in the last few years. They provide a healthier option to regular potato fries; the sweet potato variety is full of Vitamins A,C , B1 and B2 and are easier on the digestive system. Like regular potatoes, the cooking options are lengthy: bake them, mash them, turn them into French fries or even add cubes of sweet potatoes to a soup or chili recipe.

Chicken Soup
A bowl of chicken soup really is good for the soul, or well, at least for your body's ability to fight off colds and infections. Chicken soup can block the migration of inflammatory white cells in our bodies. Cold symptoms are our bodies' response to the accumulation of these white cells in our bronchial tubes. Amino acids released from chicken during the cooking process mimick a drug used to treat bronchitis. The salty nature of chicken broth can thin mucus in the same manner that cough medicines work to thin and expel mucus.

Butternut Squash
We can reap bountiful doses of Vitamin C and A in another fall favorite – butternut squash. A cup of this squash when cooked yields almost 300% of our daily recommended dose of Vitamin A. Like Vitamin C, Vitamin A is crucial for overall immune health. In general terms, it helps our organs (like heart, kidneys and lungs) to function properly.

Garlic
You can enjoy garlic any time of year, it's readily available all year round. However it does contain a powerful immune system booster: allicin. Allicin fights bacteria and infection and is found in this member of the onion family Lucky for us, we can enjoy the distinct flavor of garlic in many dishes (try it in chicken soup!) and also reap the health benefits like reducing the severity of cold and flu symptoms.

If you have questions about the dietary guidelines, menus or options at The Villas Senior Care Community, we invite you to speak to a dietitian or member of our culinary team to learn more. Visit us online at www.VillasSeniorCare.com.

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Wednesday, 14 April 2021

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