Every dietary decision has an impact on overall health. Reach for the vitamin-C-and-antioxidant-rich fruit or a sugar-filled treat? One candy bar can't hurt, right? And how much could one bowl of berries do anyway?
March is National Nutrition Month, so it's a good time to take another look at the importance of each dietary decision, particularly how each can affect immunity, energy and mood.
"Making the right food choices is imperative, probably the most important thing in controlling immunity and boosting mood and energy," says Heather-Ann Younker, registered dietitian at John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack University Medical Center. "Coupled with exercise and proper sleeping, it's top of the list."
The food recommendations to help boost immunity, energy and mood shouldn't bring the groans that come with undertaking a typical restrictive diet. There is little that is restrictive about this at all, actually. It's all about a wide variety of fruits and vegetables plus some complex carbohydrates. And one more thing.
"Water," she says. "It's important to be hydrated. Dehydration and fatigue go hand-in-hand."
Fatigue and feeling down often come together as well. Immunity can be compromised at the same time. But a quick trip to the grocery store can help.
Younker takes a look at the key factors in boosting immunity, energy and mood and the right food choices you can make to get there.
Five foods to boost immunity
The keys to boosting immunity are vitamin C (to increase the production of infection-fighting white blood cells and to protect the cells from viruses entering them), phytonutrients (to protect cells from pollutants) and allicins (to fight infection and bacteria).
• Sweet potatoes
Five foods to boost ENERGY and MOOD
Complex carbohydrates are the key for the intrinsically linked energy and mood. They provide the body's fuel, which increases energy, and raise serotonin levels in the brain, which boosts mood. They also keep energy and mood stable, unlike the spike and crash of sugar and simple carbs.
• 100-percent whole wheat bread
• Brown rice