Cold and flu season is upon us once again. Many of us have gone from working from home or home schooling to back in a busy office or crowded classroom. Our immune systems haven’t had a ton of work to do while we’ve been busy working from home, ordering groceries and social distancing. Which is exactly what these measures were put in place for, to make sure we didn’t get sick! However, now that many of us are back to business as usual, our immune systems might have gotten a bit too relaxed on their little holiday – particularly if you’ve managed to dodge the cold and flu season altogether last year. So let’s look at some natural ways we can wake up that immune system and give it the TLC it so desperately needs.
There are several nutrients that are incredibly immuno supportive that can be found in many nutritious foods. These include things like zinc, selenium, probiotics and vitamin C, E and D just to name a few! There are also foods with specific compounds in them that make them incredible nutriceuticals when it comes to fighting illnesses. So let’s look at what foods contain these and how we can incorporate them into our diets!
Ginger is among one of the healthiest spices on the planet and for good reason. It has a long list of medicinal properties thanks to its primary bio active compound gingerol. This compound is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory and can actually help to lower your risk of infection. It has been shown to help fight both viruses and bacteria. Ginger tastes amazing in soups, stir fries or even smoothies! You can also prepare fresh ginger root tea by peeling and slicing about a 2 inch piece of ginger and adding it to a pot with 4 cups of water. Boil the ginger and the water covered for 10-15 minutes and pour in a mug. You can squeeze a bit of lemon juice and add a touch of honey if desired. This is great for fighting illnesses as well as soothing a sore throat!
Turmeric is closely related to ginger and shares some of it’s potent medicinal properties as well! The main compound in turmeric is called curcumin. This compound is thought to act as a regulator in our immune system and is actually bbparticularly useful to those who suffer from chronic stress. It’s an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant and may even have cancer fighting properties. Also an important note, curcumin can be activated by simply incorporating some freshly cracked black pepper to whatever dish you are preparing with turmeric. This is thanks to the piperine in black pepper that makes the curcumin more bio available.
Garlic has many immune boosting properties and can be incredibly beneficial in fighting colds and flu. One of the main components of garlic that is responsible for its medicinal properties is the sulfur content, which is also responsible for that distinct smell garlic has. Garlic can not only reduce the severity of illness but also the length of time you are sick and simply lowers the risk of getting sick in the first place. To truly maximize the benefits of garlic, make sure you are using a lot. Up to a whole head of garlic per day if possible, but at least a few cloves with each meal. You also want to make sure you are crushing your garlic prior to using it and then leaving it to sit for 5-10 minutes before heating it. Or better yet, eat it raw! This will maximize the compound allicin which is responsible for producing those amazing bacteria and virus fighting sulfur compounds.
Manuka honey is a specific type of raw unpasteurized honey that comes from New Zealand. It contains large quantities of antiviral, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties compared with other types of honey. This makes it an immune boosting power house. It can also work wonders as a natural way to treat symptoms such as sore throat or coughs when you are sick. Keep in mind honey of all varieties is still sugar, despite not being refined and will raise your blood sugar, so be mindful of this particularly if you are diabetic.
Elderberries are a dark red berry used traditionally in herbal medicine to treat colds and other illnesses. They are incredibly rich in antioxidants, Vitamin C and many other important immune boosting nutrients. It can be used in jams or juices etc or as herbal teas, extracts or tinctures for a more potent dose. It’s important to note that elderberries need to be cooked prior to consumption as the raw form can cause nausea, vomiting and other digestive upsets.
Red Bell Pepper
Although it may not be the first thing you think of when you think of vitamin C, red bell peppers are incredibly rich in this nutrient. In fact a red bell pepper can have up to three times as much of this powerful antioxidant as an orange. This nutrient is integral for our immune system to function optimally and actually helps to increase the production of white blood cells, which are our defense against cold/flu causing pathogens. It must be acquired through our diet on a regular basis, as our bodies neither produce nor store this essential nutrient.
Yogurt along with other fermented foods like kefir, kimchi and sauerkraut are rich in probiotics. These probiotics may actually promote the production of antibodies and immune cells, improving your body’s natural defense against illnesses. Studies have also shown probiotics to decrease the risk of respiratory illnesses or the length of time you’re actually sick. You should opt for a plain Greek yogurt or almond yogurt for a dairy free alternative. Sweeten with a bit of honey and sprinkle with some antioxidant rich berries for an even more potent immune boosting breakfast.
Shellfish such as oysters, muscles and crab contain high levels of zinc which is necessary for your immune cells to function properly. It’s also great for speeding wound healing and treating skin conditions such as acne. It’s important however to note that taking too much zinc can have the opposite effect on your immune system so be sure you aren’t getting more than the recommended daily amount. For adult women this is 8mg and for men it’s 11mg.
It’s important to incorporate these delicious foods into your diet on a regular basis to prevent illness. If you find yourself feeling under the weather then try to up your intake as much as possible and focus on eating nutrient dense meals while avoiding processed and refined foods. This will speed up your recovery and have you feeling like yourself again before you know it!
Do you want to learn more about the power of nutritious foods, as well as optimize your health and happiness? Sick and tired of feeling sick and tired? Sign up for the Rituwell 10 Day Foundational Reset to reclaim your health for good!
By Kristin Nixon