If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is to remind us of the importance of maintaining healthy immune systems, our bodies’ true first line of defense against all communicable illnesses. Although individual needs may vary, nearly everyone benefits from a balanced diet containing adequate protein for muscle building and maintenance, micronutrients from plants, augmented with medicinal herbs for health-enhancing benefits (and great flavor!).

Five Healthy Foods for Seniors

When it comes to fruits and vegetables, the whole sometimes is greater than the “sum of its parts.” This means that fresh, unprocessed produce contains hundreds, perhaps thousands of interworking compounds to make sure that your cells receive not only a certain vitamin, like Vitamin C, but numerous additional elements like fiber that permit the food to be properly digested. It doesn’t matter how much of a given magical nutrient a product boasts of having if it can’t make it through our gut to the cells that need it!

1. Berries

Brightly colored berries such as strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries all contain an abundance of antioxidants, which most nutritionists consider nature’s MVP for warding off disease. Antioxidants prevent damage to your cells while they’re fighting against invading pathogens and have the added benefit of being present in many of our favorite foods already, such as….

2. Red Wine, Chocolate, and Coffee

Speaking of antioxidants, many of these are contained in deeply colored and richly flavored foods you already enjoy, such as the resveratrol found in red wine or the flavenoids in dark chocolate. Just make sure that you keep the amount of added sugar to a minimum and drink organic, filtered coffee to maximize benefits.

3. Citrus Fruits and Green Vegetables

Vitamin C is one of the few nutrients animals cannot produce, which is why it must be derived from plant sources. Fortunately, it’s highly available in an enormous variety of foods, from citrus foods like oranges and nectarines to green vegetables like bell peppers and broccoli. Also, if you tend towards anemia and take supplemental iron, it is a must to eat a good amount of Vitamin C at the same meal to enhance absorption.

4. Fermented Foods

It seems that everyone is talking about the gut these days, and for good reason. In addition to supporting your ability to digest all other foods, mounting evidence suggests that a healthy gut is a necessary precursor to good mental health!

One of the best ways to support digestive health is to consume probiotics in fermented foods. Some popular sources include greek yogurt (especially beneficial with all of the protein and very low sugar in plain varieties), pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi, and even sourdough bread.

5. Garlic and Onions

For countless hundreds of years, parents have treated sniffles with allium vegetables like garlic, shallots, and onion. In addition to being at the center of most of the world’s cuisine, these zesty veggies are full of glutathione, an antioxidant required for every cell in your body to perform optimally.

Wickshire Senior Living: Providing Immunity-Boosting Foods for Seniors

It does no good to provide and prepare these foods if they’re not actually consumed! Fortunately, the 21st century home cooking revolution has allowed tastier, healthier means of food preparation like steaming, braising, and baking to become commonplace in most kitchens. Gone are the days of tasteless boiled or canned produce, with farm-to-table restaurants, farmer’s markets, and CSAs giving communities access to locally-grown, fresh food, much of which tastes great with a little salt and olive oil.