What are the most important factors in building a strong immune system? Adequate sleep, minimizing stress and, most importantly, eating a healthy balanced diet. More specifically, a diet rich in colorful fruits, vegetables, pre and probiotics and a variety of proteins. The vitamins and minerals found in these types of foods as well as how your body utilizes them will give your immune system the boost it needs to fight off illness, resulting in less sick days and more productivity at work. Here are some tips to improve your immune system:

1. Eat a healthy balanced diet. 

Diets rich in colorful fruits and vegetables tend to be higher in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Nutrients such as beta-carotene (sweet potato, carrots), vitamin C (spinach, broccoli, strawberries, citrus fruits), vitamin D (mushrooms) and vitamin E (collard greens, pumpkin, red bell pepper) are all known to boost your immune system. Look for a rainbow of foods: reds, dark greens, oranges, yellows, and purples. Generally, the more colorful your plate is, the more nutrients your meal contains. Here is a great example from Mendocino Farms in Los Angeles, with a colorful variety of vegetables such as kale, romaine lettuce, jicama, cilantro, corn, and tomatoes in their Avocado and Quinoa Superfood Ensalada. Added bonus, Mendocino Farms (like many of our restaurant partners) allows for a variety of customizable options so you can personalize this meal by adding protein or eliminating an ingredient you prefer not to eat. 

2.Include foods rich in pre and probiotics in your diet. 

Prebiotics and probiotics also play a crucial role in building the immune system. Foods rich in prebiotics include garlic, onion, asparagus, and bananas, and foods rich in probiotics include yogurt, sauerkraut, or any fermented foods. Pre and probiotics help increase the “good” bacteria in the body and improve the balance of these microorganisms. What does this mean for the immune system? Pre and probiotics can decrease inflammation in the gut. The less inflammation in the body, the lower the risk for developing disease. This Dragon Fruit Bowl from I Love Juice Bar in Dallas is an example of a meal packed with prebiotics as well as antioxidants for an extra immune boost:

3. Make sure to incorporate a variety of proteins in your diet.

Zinc (oysters, meat, legumes, nuts, seeds), vitamin D (salmon, sardines, meat, egg yolk, fortified milk), and selenium (pork, beef, turkey, chicken, shellfish, eggs, lentils) in particular, are crucial vitamins and minerals that can help boost the immune system. More specifically, zinc is responsible for the production of new immune system cells, selenium helps fight off illness and those with low levels of vitamin D are more susceptible to developing an infection or illness. Pokeworks in Bellevue gives you the option to build your own poke bowl, salad or burrito complete with two or three protein choices (salmon, ahi tuna, tofu and chicken) and an assortment of vegetable mix-ins. This is a complete, immune-boosting super meal. 

4. Improve sleep and minimize stress. 

Sleep is essential for health, and it’s especially important to remember while working from home when there are no longer clear boundaries between work and home life. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society recommends adults get at least 7 hours of sleep per night. However, a recent study revealed more than a third of Americans do not get enough sleep on a regular basis. Inadequate sleep can lead to a weakened immune system, poor energy levels, fluctuations in body weight, and an increased risk of developing chronic disease. 

How can employees improve their sleep? Adopt a consistent schedule and stick to it. Remove all electronic devices from the bedroom and avoid large meals, caffeine, and alcohol before bedtime. Managing stress levels is another crucial habit for strengthening the immune system. Schedule breaks in the day: step outside, go for a quick walk (exercise, even 15 minutes per day, helps decrease stress and can improve sleep), call a friend, read a book or meditate. By offering DashPass to employees, they can have free delivery and enjoy their lunch break instead of having to spend that time cooking and cleaning dishes. This also makes it easier for them to order immune-boosting food. Taking a break away from the screen can help decrease stress, boost your mood, and improve productivity - all while benefiting your overall health and immune system, too. 

On top of DashPass, DoorDash for Work has a number of other solutions to help every employee find a delicious, hassle-free, and personalized meal to keep them happy, healthy, and more productive. Contact us today to see how we can help.

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Kelsey Gonzalez, RD, MDA
Registered Dietitian

Kelsey Gonzalez is a registered dietitian with a master's degree in dietetic administration and has been working in the health and nutrition field for over a decade. She has worked in a variety of settings including nutrition counseling, corporate wellness and sports nutrition with collegiate athletes. Kelsey’s happy place is the beach. In her free time, you can find her there, along with her tribe: hubby, three kids under the age of four, and their loyal rescue pup.