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2 unusual tips to get the most nutrients from immunity-boosting foods

Experts say you should aim to bolster your immune system no matter the season, and diet is a major way you can do just that.

Gut health can contribute to the state of your immune system, Kim Shapira, a dietitian and nutrition therapist, tells CNBC Make It.

Shapira recommends these “quick ways to repair your gut” and boost your immunity:

  • Eat foods high in omega-3s including flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds and fatty fish
  • Get diverse servings of fruits and vegetables in your diet
  • Take a good quality probiotic
  • Add fermented foods to your meals
  • Reach for foods high in antioxidants like vitamin A, C, D, E and K (including mushrooms, seeds, asparagus, berries or oranges)
  • Aim to eat whole grains that are high in fiber

But Shapira points out that it’s not only what you eat but how you eat it, too. Here are two tips she has for getting the most nutrients from the foods you eat.

2 unusual tips for getting the most nutrients from immunity-boosting foods

1. Smell your food first

“One thing that I strongly recommend is that you smell your food before you start eating it,” Shapira says.

Smelling your food causes saliva to form in your mouth, which is a cue for your body that it’s time to digest, she adds.

“If you are eating and you’re not getting that saliva, you’re missing out on valuable digestive enzymes, and you’re not going to be able to get all the nutrition from the foods you’re eating,” Shapira says.

This is true even when you’re eating foods with high-nutrient value, she notes.

2. Chew your food longer than you think you need to

“The next thing I highly recommend is to chew your food longer than you think necessary,” Shapira says.

“Our teeth are our first form of mechanical digestion. It’s how we break down the food and the fiber in the food so we can get the nutrition from inside.”

By the time you swallow your food, it should basically be in a liquid state, she adds.

When you don’t chew your food long enough, or avoid chewing altogether, “you’re actually missing out on all the nutrition inside of the food,” Shapira says.

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