Healthy Eating Tips for Real Life
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on USDairy.com
- Dairy foods
- Yellow and orange fruits and veggies
- Leafy greens
- Cruciferous vegetables
- Coffee and tea
That’s a lot, and there are so many combinations you can put together for delicious snacks and meals.
Foods that Support Your Immune System
Many of the foods that are considered anti-inflammatory also help support immune health. Look for foods that have specific nutrients linked to a healthy immune system—protein, vitamins A, C, D and E, plus several minerals.
The good news is dairy foods like milk, cheese and yogurt provide many of the nutrients that are important for a healthy immune function including protein, vitamins A and D, selenium and zinc. When you combine them with colorful fruits and veggies, it’s a great way to ensure you get what your body needs.
Foods That Are Good for Your Gut
What we eat can keep our digestive system, a.k.a. the gut, healthy. Dairy foods play a role there too, along with eating an overall balanced diet that includes fiber and fermented foods. Find fiber in fruits, veggies, beans and whole-grain foods. That will keep everything moving in your digestive system. Fermented dairy foods like yogurt and kefir also provide beneficial bacteria to promote a healthy gut and improve lactose digestion and lactose intolerance.
Following these guidelines helps manage inflammation, supports normal immune function and promotes a healthy gut. Now here are some practical tips to start you out.
Healthy Eating Tips
I recommend pairing foods when it comes to snacks. Think “produce + protein.” Examples include:
- Apples + peanut butter yogurt dip
- Veggies + French onion yogurt dip
- Clementine + string cheese
- Bowl of whole grain cereal + milk + berries
When it comes to breakfast, lunch and dinner, look for variety from more than one food group. One of my favorite things to use is veggies as vessels. Think of a stuffed sweet potato “taco” with black beans, cheese, lettuce, avocado, plain Greek yogurt and salsa. Or try stuffed peppers with bison or lean meat, cheese, couscous, onions and mushrooms.
Why Start Now?
Did you know that nearly 9 out of 10 Americans are not getting enough veggies or dairy in their diets? That means they’re missing out on foods with anti-inflammatory effects that offer support for both the immune system and gut health. Your next trip to the grocery store is a great place to get on the right track. All it takes is making a list of the meals you want to eat and picking up the ingredients. These two recipes might inspire you:
Start with the list of anti-inflammatory foods like dairy, fruits and veggies—those are the same foods needed for immune health! For gut health, pair fermented foods like yogurt and kefir with the many colors of the rainbow of fruits and vegetables that also provide fiber. Don’t forget nuts and seeds.
By focusing on small changes, you can make a big difference to your health. And it’s never too late to start.