It’s easy to feel overwhelmed about how to be your healthiest self during this time when health feels extra important (hello, worldwide pandemic and the fast approach of winter). Countless products tout the ability to boost immune systems, but what does that actually mean?
The truth: The goal is not to boost your immune system, but to support its optimal function.
The immune system is a network of many working parts, and boosting cellular functions would probably (ironically) result in sickness, rather than increasing immunity. Consuming certain micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) is important for it to function optimally, but green teas, juice cleanses, supplements, and essential oils aren’t the magic cure to create optimal immune health.
Focusing on quick fixes like supplements and vitamins that claim to boost or enhance the immune system is far less important than prioritizing basic practices that support your overall health and allow for an optimally functioning immune system.
Supporting immune health looks like:
- Managing stress levels
- Getting adequate sleep
- Prioritizing exercise and movement
- Eating a balanced diet filled with micronutrients (vitamins and minerals that come from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and protein sources like organ meat; meat; and eggs)
It’s generally boring lifestyle changes that reap greater benefits than quick fixes and fast-acting products. It’s also these same actions that lead to overall long-term health.
Fall Harvest Salad Packed With Micronutrients
With just a few simple ingredients and minimal kitchen mess, you can easily make this delicious salad that uses the best flavors of fall. Give it a try with delicata, kabocha, butternut or other winter squash options from the local famers market! To boost the protein, top it with grilled chicken breast or chicken apple sausage.
Prep Time: 15 minutes | Cook Time: 40 minutes | Makes 4 servings
- 8 cups mixed greens
- 1 Honeycrisp apple, cored and sliced
- 2 small delicata Squash or about 1 medium squash
- ½ cup shredded parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup pecans
- Salt, pepper, ground nutmeg
- 2 Tbsp your favorite balsamic vinaigrette
Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and grease with olive oil or cooking oil spray.
Wash delicata squash and remove both ends. Slice squash in half, lengthwise. Using a spoon, clean out the seeds. Put the seeds in a colander and clean thoroughly.
Place squash on lined baking sheet and roast for 25 minutes, or until soft. Once squash is done roasting, cool for 15 minutes.
Transfer seeds to a bowl and toss with olive oil or cooking spray. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Toast for 10 minutes alongside pecans. Toss all ingredients together and serve with dressing.
Nutrition information per serving: 145 calories, 5g protein, 5g fat, 20g carbohydrates
Kate Lyman, MPH, CHES is a Memphis-based nutrition coach who believes in ditching restrictive diet rules and building flexible eating habits so that you can eat the foods you enjoy while still working towards your goals. She provides personalized online nutrition coaching and creates resources that can help anyone improve their diet. Find her cookbooks, nutrition guides, and other resources at katelymannutrition.com or on follow along at @klnutrition.