Sleep is the invisible “superpower” against illness. Yet the American Sleep Association warns that a whopping 70 million Americans have trouble sleeping. This has immediate ramifications on your immune system. If you want stronger immunity, cook up one of these delicious dinners to give your body the nutritional support it needs for better sleep and improved rest.
The Benefits of Sleep for Your Immune System
Before we share with you the next few easy, family-friendly dinners that encourage a good night’s rest, let’s first discuss the benefits that sleep brings to your immune system:
- When you sleep, your body releases cytokines, a type of protein that helps your body respond to infection, inflammation and stress.
- During sleep, your levels of human growth hormone peak. This hormone helps rebuild and repair damaged tissues and cells
- Lack of sleep, and poor sleep, reduces your levels of infection-fighting antibodies and weakens your immune system.
What to Eat for Better Sleep: Strengthen Your Immune System With These Simple Dinners
1. Chicken With Spicy, Tart Cherry Glaze
Researchers found that the juice in cherries is incredibly effective for insomnia. Cherries also help with sleep quality. Plus, cherries are highly anti-inflammatory, which brings with it additional immune system benefits.
1 cup chopped pitted sweet cherries
1/4 cup red wine
1 garlic clove, minced
1/8 teaspoon cumin
Pinch of salt and pepper
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon cherry preserves
Four 4-ounce chicken breasts
Smash up the berries in a small pot before adding the wine, garlic, cumin, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and cherry preserves. Bring to a roiling boil, then bring down the heat and let it simmer until it thickens (this should take approximately 10-15 minutes).
While the glaze is simmering down, cook the chicken on a grill or in a frying pan until done. Drizzle the chicken with the cherry sauce and enjoy with a big helping of veggies!
2. Turkey Salad Sandwich
Turkey is rich in tryptophan, an amino acid that encourages your body’s natural release of melatonin (a sleep-inducing hormone).
Additionally, turkey is very lean while being rich in protein, and a high-protein dinner is linked with improved sleep quality.
This recipe is easy, fast and satisfying, while also including lots of immune-boosting, digestion-enhancing veggies.
4 cups chopped turkey breast
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
1/2 cup diced celery
1/4 cup sliced scallions
2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl, then simply layer it between your favorite slices of bread (this recipe goes exceptionally well with a chewy, dense loaf, such as rye or pumpernickel bread).
3. Baked Salmon on Greens
Fatty, cold-water fish are sleep- and immune system-improving powerhouses. Salmon is especially beneficial. For instance, it’s high in vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, which improve your immunity while also increasing your production of the sleep-promoting brain chemical known as serotonin.
In one interesting study, people who ate salmon just three times a week for six months got into a restful, healthy sleep much faster than people who ate other forms of meat.
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Juice from one lemon (approximately two tablespoons of juice)
1 minced garlic clove
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
Pinch of salt and pepper
1/2 sliced red onion
Four 6-ounce wild-caught salmon fillets
2 medium heads of your favorite lettuce, torn into chunks
2 medium tomatoes, cubed
1 medium English cucumber, diced
1/2 cup pitted olives, cut in half
1 cup of crumbled feta cheese
Preheat your oven to 425-degrees Fahrenheit. While the oven is heating up, marinate the salmon in the oil, vinegar, lemon, garlic, salt and pepper, and the oregano for approximately 10-15 minutes.
Place the salmon on a baking pan and bake for eight minutes or until the fish flakes easily.
While the salmon finishes, combine the veggies on a plate (you should have enough here for four small salads). Add a warm fillet of salmon on the salad and sprinkle with the cheese.
More Immunity Recipes: