Given the current global situation of the viral upper respiratory infection, a lot of you guys have been wondering how you can boost your immune system, what to buy and eat, what to feed you and your family added protection and a fighting chance against the pandemic.
Good nutrition consisting of fresh organic produce and whole foods plays a major role in your overall wellbeing. Whole foods packed with vitamins and antioxidants support your body by fueling it with the right nutrients it needs to function properly to protect you from colds, and viral infections going around.
This is why I've created a list of foods scientifically proven fruits and vegetables to significantly boost your immune system. Some you may have in your pantry, some you might need to buy fresh and freeze.
Your Immune System is the Foundation of Good Health
Healthy balanced meals filled with lots of colors allow your body to deliver vital nutrients and vitamins to activate the organs that detox your body from harmful toxins, to increase the production and stimulate the cells that heal you and enhance your immune function.
It's not always necessary for you to load up on nutritional supplements, because all of the vitamins your body needs can be found in common foods found in your local farmers market or grocery stores.
Thanks to mother earth we have an abundance of these delicious and healing foods with anti-viral and/or anti-bacterial properties to help your body gain the strength to protect you from getting sick.
1. Citrus fruits
Citrus fruits are a fresh and delicious way of staying healthy, and as most people already know, they are packed with vitamin C and Vitamin A, but that's not the only reason why they help boost your immune system. Citrus fruits produce white blood cells which are vital for fighting off any kind of viral or bacterial infection. My favorite is lemon, you can add a squeeze to your tea, your water, even your fruit salad, or make a lemon-based salad dressing. However there are many citrus fruits to choose from; Oranges, Grapefruit, Clementines, Limes, and Tangerines.
2. Bell peppers
Contrary to popular belief, oranges and orange juice are not the food filled with the most Vitamin C, bell peppers are! Specifically, red bell peppers which have been scientifically proven to contain as much as twice the amount of vitamin c found in citrus fruits. Red bell peppers are also packed with beta carotene which is the same thing that is in carrots which keeps your eyes and skin healthy. Any vegetables such as carrots, beets, sweet potatoes and tomatoes rich in beta carotene are great because they're a precursor of vitamin A.
Turmeric is a wonderful spice used in many countries as the base of a recipe, it has incredible anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties which help your body fight off any infections or inflammation that may put a strain on your immune system.
This is one of the most wonderful vegetables. It might stir up unpleasant memories of eating vegetables during our childhood, but I promise you, you don't want to leave this one out of your shopping cart. Broccoli is packed with minerals and vitamins C, A, and B. The trick to cooking broccoli is to cook lengthways in long strips with small bushes so it's not too chunky and cooks quicker. You boil it slightly, before draining it and sauteeing it in the pan for a minute or so with salt, pepper and any other spices you want. You don't want to overcook it or else it becomes mushy and looses all of its vitamins. The crunchier the better! Or if you prefer to eat it raw and dip it in some ranch, then that's good too!
Alongside onions, garlic has very powerful antiviral and antibacterial properties that have been used all over the world for thousands of years to treat infections and so much more. It's also known to significantly lower blood pressure from just one clove per day. The immune-enhancing properties found in garlic are even better than it's anti-viral properties, which come from a compound in the garlic packed with sulfur. On top of all its benefits ginger adds a touch of flavor to your meal. Cultures all over the world include garlic in their meals.
Ginger decreases inflammation and contains gingerol which is what makes it slightly spicy, this compound is capable of slowing down the production of mucus in your mucus membranes and helps relieve the symptoms of a cold or upper respiratory infection such as bronchitis. Ginger is a root that also has anti-nausea properties making it a great addition to your morning routine if you are pregnant, or are sick with the flu, (and if you want to avoid catching the flu!) I like to drink lemon, ginger, honey green tea in the morning and in the evening, stay tuned for a post on this wonderful drink in the coming weeks!
7. Honey (Raw)
There are many studies that show the incredible properties of this liquid gold, some of them being anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, and even anti-bacterial which are what help boost the production of the white blood cells that make up your immune system.
It has to be raw or unpasteurized honey if you have manuka honey then even better!
8. Pumpkin and Sunflower Seeds
Both incredibly nutritious, high in zinc and omega-3, and both essential for a healthy immune system. They are both incredibly high in Vitamin E which keeps your skin healthy and skin and nails strong! But the most potent function of Vitamin E is to fight off free radicals. Free radicals damage your white blood cells which support your immune function, and this makes these small seeds one of the healthiest addition to your diet if you want to strengthen your immune system. A bonus vitamin in these seeds is Vitamin D, also very important for your immune system.
Like everything else, your health and your immune system starts in your gut! Miso is a paste made from fermented soybeans that contain live probiotic which supports your microbiome and digestive system, in turn enhancing the function of your immune system. Miso also contains Vitamins B and E which help your immune system fight off viruses. Miso is used in Japan to make soup to accompany a meal and a lot of other recipes. There are two types of miso pastes; aka (red) miso, and Shiro (white) miso, I like to buy aka-Shiro miso which is a mixed miso paste. For these benefits, you can also try yogurt or Kefir.
10. Green tea
This wonderful leaf has been used in various countries in the East to boost the immune system and heal the body from viral diseases. Our scientists have since run several clinical trials and studies showing the positive healing and preventative benefits of green tea, it has even shown to significantly reduce the risk of breast and prostate cancer in regular drinkers. However, the polyphenols, antioxidants and antiviral properties are what boost your immune system and protect you from catching the flu or cold and other viral diseases.
*Avoid*: Sugar and alcohol, both of which can weaken your immune system, try to limit processed foods too.
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Doctors and scientists all over the world, have done a lot of research on the healing and preventative benefits of mushrooms and what they have found is that all mushrooms are healing and immunomodulatory. Mushrooms such as reishi, lions mane, shiitake, cordyceps, maitake, chaga, turkey tail have been used in eastern medicine for thousands of years.
They are called 'adaptogenic' because they help your body adapt to stress, this includes internal and external stress. These incredible mushrooms increase your body's ability to fight viruses, bacterias, chemical, and hormonal imbalances, cancer and help your body reach optimal function so that every organ is in perfect harmony.
Chaga being the most powerful medicinal mushroom whereas shitake and mistake have the most immune-boosting chemicals and flu-fighting agents.
Regular grocery store mushrooms may not be as strong as the medicinal mushrooms but they are packed with vitamin D.
The best way to take adaptogenic mushrooms is in powdered form. Linked below is my favorite medicinal mushroom product from OM Mushrooms. They have many different blends and beverages that you can pick and choose from; for immunity, for energy, for skin health, for healing, etc. They are vegan, gf, and ethically sourced. During this pandemic and quarantine where it's harder to buy fresh produce and we have to ration our food, it is a great time to get extra immune support so I have partnered with Om Mushroom to get you a discount on any of their medicinal mushroom blends and have it delivered at your doorstep.
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