During this time when we are all busy and needing to stay in optimal health, eating to thrive has never been more important. A sure way to help your energy and give your immune system a boost is to eat superfoods that have been proven to help our physical and emotional health. Superfoods are fruits and vegetables that are especially rich in health-promoting nutrients – vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and more. Many of these nutrients have long been known for their nourishing and medicinal benefits.
When we talk about blue superfoods, we aren’t talking about only blue-colored foods such as blueberries. Instead, we mean the foods that are found to be the healthiest and are common in the “Blue Zones.” “Blue Zone” is a non-scientific term given to geographic regions that are home to some of the world’s oldest people. The book The Blue Zones explores regions where people live the longest and their diet and relationship to food. These regions include:
- Icaria, Greece
- Ogliastra, Sardinia
- Okinawa, Japan
- Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica
- Loma Linda, California
Whole Plant Food Diet
One thing common to the Blue Zones is that people living in these areas primarily eat a whole-foods plant-based diet. They rarely eat meat and animal products, if at all. They thrive off fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds. These foods boosts the immune system to ward off diseases and provides great energy to stay healthy and thrive.
Blue Zone diet include:
- 100% whole grains
- Nuts and seeds
- Legumes, beans, and pulses
- Fruits and vegetables
Blue Zone diet excludes:
- Sugar-sweetened beverages
- Salty snacks (potato chips, etc.)
- Packaged sweets
- Processed animal products
Superfoods to Include
When you’re looking to boost your energy and improve your immune system, consider incorporating these healthy, nutrition-packed foods into your daily diet:
Include a variety of all beans – black beans, pinto beans, garbanzo beans, blackeye peas, and lentils. Beans are rich in a variety of nutrients such as B vitamins, potassium, magnesium, and fiber. Fiber is an essential food to produce healthy gut bacteria, which equates to a healthy body and immunity. To boost immunity, decrease inflammation, and enjoy a protein-rich meal, turn to beans.
Sweet potatoes are rich in beta carotene which gives them their rich orange color. Beta carotene is also a powerful antioxidant and helps to produce vitamin A.
Almonds, walnuts, cashews – nuts are rich in vitamin E which is a powerful antioxidant in the body. These support the formation of white blood cells, which fights off harmful bacteria and viruses. Nuts are also rich in heart-healthy fats, which can help boost “good” cholesterol (HDL) while decreasing the “bad” cholesterol (LDL). They are an excellent snack to carry around with you for an instant energy source, too.
Oats are wonderful at slowly releasing energy to fuel you for the day ahead. They also help you to feel fuller for longer so that that your appetite is kept in check. What’s more, the beta-glucan found in oats helps boost our infection-fighting blood cells. Oats also contain selenium and zinc, two important nutrients for warding off infection.
Citrus fruit (limes, lemons, oranges), berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries), cherries, watermelon, and other fruits have wonderful antioxidant benefits that can help protect you against viruses. Berries are rich in vitamin C as well as flavonoids that help protect cells and reduce inflammation. A squeeze of lemon or lime juice in your water or tea can add a useful dose of vitamin C to protect us against illness. Since vitamin C is water-soluble, your body is unable to store it. It’s important to eat vitamin C rich foods on a regular basis, and fruit is a wonderful way to do this.
When you’re looking for an instant shot of energy, it’s best to consume something that will give you steady energy rather than a spike and then crash, which coffee and energy drinks tend to do. Instead, turn to the superfood of green tea. Green tea is packed with flavonoids, a type of antioxidant, which has shown to enhance immunity. It is also rich in L-theanine, an amino acid that can improve the germ-fighting action of your T-cells.
Raw garlic is wonderful at giving your body’s immune system a helping hand. It has natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, which help you to ward off illness and recover quickly. Consuming raw garlic also increases the number of T-cells in your bloody, which your body needs to fight off viruses. Ideally, consume garlic raw by crushing or slicing it into salads.
Turmeric contains curcumin and other chemicals which work hard to decrease swelling and inflammation in the body. The curcumin content in turmeric is more easily absorbed when consumed with black pepper and a healthy fat (i.e., coconut oil).
Feeling like you need a little help to get jumpstarted on your immune system and energy levels? To get started on obtaining your health and fitness goals, contact Genesis Performance. We will help you fit in strategic nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle wellness practices into your current schedule and inspire you to reach optimal health. We help clients across the nation virtually, so even if you’re self-isolating during this time, we are here for you.