The time has come my friends. Cold weather, runny noses, the flu epidemic. With busy schedules and the holidays, this is by far the worst time to get sick. Lucky for you, there are a wide array of foods you can eat to help keep you healthy and happy during this time of year. Studies show that infection-fighting vitamins and nutrients work best before symptoms start, so load up on these immune-boosting foods now to help keep you and your family strong during this cold/flu season.
- GARLIC. Garlic has been known as a powerful infection fighter since the beginning of time. Garlic contains a compound, allicin, which has been proven to stave off drug-resistant strains of bacteria and viruses. You can add fresh garlic to almost anything! I love throwing some garlic in with sautéed veggies, soups, sandwiches, etc. Add some garlic to your favorite recipes and you will keep those nasty infections away…as well as some vampires 😉
- FERMENTED FOODS. These have also been eaten by cultures for thousands of years and for good reason. Fermented foods help restore healthy bacteria in your gut which is a necessity for a healthy immune system. Some of the best fermented foods include kombucha, sauerkraut, miso, pickles, non-dairy yogurt, etc. My favorite is Cultured Coconut Milk and kombucha which you can find at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods.
- BRAZIL NUTS. Brazil nuts are one of the richest sources of Selenium. Selenium forms selenoproteins which act as powerful antioxidants and increase your amount of T cells which fight infections. Selenium has also been found to help regulate intestinal flora, boosting your overall immunity.
- MUSHROOMS. These contain high amounts of Vitamin D as well as beta-glucans. Beta-glucans have the innate ability to activate macrophages and white blood cells within your immune system which fight off infection. Mushrooms are also a great meat replacer so it’s a win-win if you can include these in your diet.
- COCONUTS/COCONUT OIL. Coconuts and coconut oil are rich in lauric acid, a compound proven to boost immunity. Lauric acid is actually known to disrupt the membranes of invading pathogens. Try substituting your cooking oil with coconut oil or try adding coconut oil to your oatmeal, smoothies, etc. When buying coconut oil, always be sure to buy the organic unrefined kind. Eventually, you’ll be going kookoo for coconut oil 🙂
- BLUEBERRIES. These are packed with antioxidants. They contain potent phytochemicals, such as anthocyanins, which keep your immune system strong. Berries also contain lower amounts of sugar in comparison to other fruits which is an added bonus.
- CHLORELLA/SPIRULINA. I’ve mentioned these super foods many times before but I cannot reiterate their health value enough! These are freshwater algae which bind to harmful toxins and transport them out of your body. They contain high amounts of chlorophyll which promotes tissue repair, cleanses your blood, and helps you process oxygen. You can buy these in powder or supplement form. Try adding a teaspoon of the powder to your smoothies for a mega boost of nutrients.
- SWEET POTATOES. Beta-carotene increases the number of infection fighting cells (natural killer and T cells) within your immune system. Sweet potatoes actually pack more beta carotene than carrots. Baked sweet potato fries are a yummy treat everyone will love. Also, sweet potato-orange-pineapple juice tastes like an orange creamsicle…who would’ve thought!
- LOCAL ORGANIC VEGETABLES. For your immune system to work optimally, you need a wide array of nutrients. Choosing vibrant, diverse vegetables will ensure you are receiving a wide array of nutrients which help protect you from that nasty cold and flu. Fresh green juices and smoothies are a quick and easy way to boost your nutrient intake.
- GREEN TEA. Green teas are rich in polyphenols, most specifically catechins. The most potent catechin in green tea is epigallocatechin (EGCG), which is found to be 25-100 times more powerful than vitamins C and E. Matcha green tea is one of the most beneficial types to incorporate into your daily routine.
- VITAMIN C. We all know Vitamin C keeps colds away. Foods highest in vitamin C include papaya, bell peppers, broccoli, pineapple, strawberries, Brussels sprouts, oranges, and dark leafy greens such as kale (kale is by far one of the top foods you can eat). Vitamin C supplements also work wonders. Add Vitamin C to your routine and say “C ya” to that cold….If you’re at a point of no return and already have a cold, try taking 1000 mg of vitamin C every few hours and your cold will be gone within a day or 2.
- SPICES. Powerful Immune boosting spices include cinnamon, oregano, turmeric, black pepper, and cloves. All of these have high antioxidant values as well as antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory properties.
By adding these immune boosting foods you will not only keep that cold away, you will improve your overall health and well-being!