Five Immune-Supporting Superfoods To Try This Winter
Defend against seasonal illness by adding immune-supporting foods to your diet this winter.
We’re in the throws of winter, which unfortunately also means the height of cold and flu season. Don’t wait until you’re feeling under the weather to think about boosting your immune system. Instead, start building immune-supporting habits into your routine to ward off those nasty bugs. Getting plenty of rest and routine exercise, managing stress as it arises, and eating a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables are lifestyle practices that will help build a strong immune system. For an added boost this season, load up on these super immune-supporters. Should those pesky germs invade, we’ve also got some natural remedies to help you recover quickly.
Boost Your Immune System With These 5 Foods:
1. Ginger – Known for its amazing anti-inflammatory and immune boosting properties, ginger has been used for centuries for medicinal benefits. The antioxidant compounds, gingerols, help earn its reputation as a super spice. It can help fight off a cold or ease symptoms such as a sore throat or nausea should you get sick. Not to mention it’s widely available and versatile—it can be used in sweet or savory dishes, which make it easy to work into your food or drinks on a consistent basis.
2. Turmeric – The powerful compound in turmeric is curcumin, which has been associated with anti-inflammatory benefits. Over time, chronic inflammation can take a toll on our immune system. Turmeric may also help reduce arthritic pain and reduce muscle soreness, too. You can find turmeric root in some grocery stores and (as with ginger root) it can be stored in the freezer. Powder form works too, just sprinkle this warming spice on everything—your eggs, roasted veggies, it can be added to soups and stews, or you may choose to sip the spice in the form of teas or lattes. To increase the absorption of turmeric in the body, combine with black pepper and a healthy fat like ghee, olive oil or coconut milk. Just handle with care, it tends to stain easily!
3. Lemon - Lemons are an excellent source of vitamin C, a powerful water-soluble antioxidant that’s been shown to do much more than ward off colds. In addition to boosting the immune system, Vitamin C can aid digestion, help with absorption of iron and the production of collagen. Lemons also help balance your body’s pH levels and have many therapeutic and antibacterial properties. Simply drink lemon water throughout the day, or add a fresh squeeze to brighten up salads and other cooked dishes.
4. Raw Honey – Yes, honey is a sweetener and too much sugar can weaken our immune system leaving us more vulnerable to illness. But raw honey has many antibacterial and antiviral properties making it a wellbeing booster. Why raw? It’s less processed, leaving more of the good stuff in tact. The nice thing about honey is that you can have it straight from a spoon, or it can help soften the flavors and increase palatability when combined with other superfoods on this list (like apple cider vinegar). Local honey can also help with seasonal allergies, so look for raw, local honey at your neighborhood farmer’s markets and specialty stores.
5. Apple cider vinegar - ACV has a strong taste that may be a little potent for some, but it’s loaded with beneficial bacteria that can give your health a boost. It balances the body’s pH since it acts as an alkalizing agent, which can also help kill viruses and bacteria. Choose raw, organic, unpasteurized ACV (such as Bragg’s), which contains the mother, probiotics and enzymes that occur during fermentation. Since most of our immune system is housed in the gut, adding ACV and other fermented foods to your diet can be beneficial year-round. You can add this powerful ingredient to salad dressings, sauces, or sprinkle directly on food.
My go-to wellness tea recipe I sip ALLLL winter long:
-1 teabag (I prefer ginger or turmeric)
-1 inch of fresh ginger root, peeled and sliced
-1 inch of fresh turmeric root or a few dashes of turmeric powder*
-Squeeze of lemon
-Twist of ground black pepper
-Dash of cayenne pepper if you like a little heat
-Raw honey, to taste
*You can drink this while eating a food containing healthy fat for optimal turmeric absorption.
When sickness strikes, try these natural remedies:
At the onset of a cold (or for prevention!) – instead of chugging OJ, try this:
· Ginger/turmeric tea with raw honey and lemon
· Drink lemon water and opt for foods high in vitamin C such as oranges, strawberries, kiwis, red bell peppers and broccoli
· Gargle with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar (it sounds gross but helps!). You can mix a 1-2 tablespoons with warm lemon water and honey, or just drink it straight up.
To soothe a scratchy throat or cough – instead of cough medicine, try this:
· Spoonful of raw, local honey
To alleviate congestion – instead of a drying decongestant, try this:
· Use a Neti pot morning and night
· Face steam – add some eucalyptus or oregano oil for an added benefit
To ease queasiness from a stomach bug, instead of nausea medicine, try this:
· Sip on ginger tea
· Reintroduce foods slowly starting with broth or bland foods (also known as BRAT diet) including bananas, rice, applesauce and toast
Should you need to replenish fluids and electrolytes after a stomach bug, instead of Gatorade, try this:
· Coconut water
· Filtered water with freshly squeezed citrus fruit juice (orange, lemon, grapefruit) and a pinch of salt
· Herbal tea
Blogpost written by AC Health Coach Ashley H