How to give your system a boost

Integrating antioxidants into your daily diet improves your immune system and helps you get well sooner

By Bryan Fass

Bad calls, sleep interruption, sickness and disease, manufactured foods, and a long list of other substances with which we come into contact all cause a cascade effect in our body. Over time, the constant exposure to both psychological and physiological stressors cause our bodies to undergo a series of predictable and preventable changes.

We first notice subtle changes like weight gain and irritability, then we get sick more frequently, take longer to recover, find it difficult to sleep, and possess less energy. These changes — which generally stem from a lack of good nutrition and/or poor fitness levels — are very easy to reverse. Sadly, our inability to heal or be well will cause a cascade effect of illness and injury that will keep us out of work and inhibit our ability to provide for our families.

Power foods and whole foods will drastically increase your ability to be physically and mentally healthy. When you provide your body with nutrients that it can use to heal and build its natural defenses, many negative effects of a stressful career become inconsequential.

Many of you have undoubtedly heard about antioxidants, the good nutrients in whole unprocessed foods that help repair your body from the inside out. Food with naturally occurring vitamins like oranges (vit. C), green vegetables (a venerable multi-vitamin), and berries (high concentrations of health-promoting vitamins and antioxidants) will boost your immune system and help you get well sooner when you are feeling ill. Integrating many of these foods into your daily diet is actually pretty easy.

1. Super food drinks. Theses travel well and are easy to consume on duty.

2. Green leafy vegetables. Add broccoli, spinach, greens, kale, and cabbage to your meals.

3. Whole food supplements. Bars, powders — and yes, pills — are easy for the public safety professional to add into your day.

4. Homemade smoothies/juice. Jack Lalane is famous for juicing and he is well over 90! Make a smoothie at home from frozen berries and fat free yogurt, and add some protein powder for a complete meal. I say 'homemade' because many of the chain smoothie stores use artificial mixes which have little health value.

About the author

Bryan Fass is a leading expert on public safety injury prevention. As the president and founder of Fit Responder, Bryan’s company works nationally with departments, corporations, and state and local governments to design and run targeted injury prevention and wellness programs. He is frequently contacted for expert opinion and content contribution for all aspects of public safety fitness, ergonomics and wellness. He authored the Fit Responder book used by departments and schools, and writes for numerous web and peer-reviewed journals.

Bryan holds a bachelors’ degree in sports medicine with more than 17 years of clinical practice, was a paramedic for more than 8 years, and is certified as an Athletic Trainer (ATC, LAT), Strength Coach (CSCS) and the Functional Movement Screen (FMS). Fit Responder developed the nation’s first validated pre-hire Physical Abilities Test for EMS. Bryan is a sought-after speaker on a variety of topics including risk reduction, employee self-care, real world wellness and How to Eat on the street. Fit Responder also offers a mobile app and program for Fire-Rescue fitness. Contact Bryan at

  1. Tags
  2. Health and Wellness

Join the discussion


logo for print