Colds and flu now have their own season and that season is fully upon us! Lucky us. So, instead of falling prey to a host of un-unfriendly germs, why not take your health into your own hands by using foods as a preventative measure? I have prepared a simple list of five powerful foods that are tried and true champions for building a healthy immune system.
Garlic not only makes your cooking so much richer and delicious tasting but it also provides amazing health-boosting antioxidant activity. Eaten regularly, garlic is known to keep you naturally more resistant to nasty bugs and funky illnesses.
This little bulb contains a very powerful chemical substance called allicin known to fight infections from viruses, fungus and bacteria. It is rich in the mineral sulfur important for liver detoxification, removing toxins and reducing inflammation. Garlic is also shown to improve energy or qi, stagnation, in the body, thereby promoting healthy circulation and improved vitality.
Take at least one clove a day for general health maintenance. During acute periods of sickness, or at the onset of an illness, take 3-6 cloves daily. There is also no shame in taking a deodorized supplement.
This spice is a worldwide medicinal and culinary favorite. Ginger (Zingiber officinale) has been cultivated in India and China for over 4,700 years. Medicinally, the phytochemicals found in ginger are anti-inflammatory and provide super immune boosting potential that supports your body’s natural killer cells. That is a good thing! These cells when activated help effectively fights off infections from viruses, bacteria and germs. Ginger is also high in vitamin C, vitamin E, potassium and fiber.
As in the case of colds and flu, taking ginger tea will help ease lung congestion, calm an upset stomach, soothe a sore throat and will assist you in sweating out toxins.
Ginger is versatile, so you can eat it cooked, raw or even pickled. Eat one ½ inch slice or alternatively you can take ginger as tincture, as a hot tea, juiced, or powdered. As a supplement take 500 – 2000 mg. a day.
The simplicity of the onions natural immune boosting ability can’t be overstated. Onions are known for the high anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory plant polyphenols called quercetin and anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are the chemicals responsible for providing the red color found in onions and berries that are linked to reducing inflammation, cardiovascular disease, and risk of cancer. The abundant sulfur in onions improves liver detox function and gives lots of love to your immune system.
Onions are abundant, delicious, and affordable so there is every reason to eat them regularly. Remember the red onion will provide great antioxidants while research shows the more pungent yellow and white contain more beneficial compounds than the mild shallot or sweet vadalia onion. Either way enjoy them raw, sautéed, in soups, as a broth. Just eat them.
Seaweeds are wonderful for use during cold and flu season is because they are loaded in immune building minerals and vitamins. In fact, seaweed, affectionately referred to as ocean vegetables, contains up to 10-20 times the amount of minerals than do land vegetables, including iodine, calcium and iron. They also provide the broadest range and contain the greatest amount of minerals than all other organisms on our planet. I think that deserves a “wow”!
So powerful are seaweeds they have the ability to remove toxic metals and radioactive materials from the body. They also improve metabolism as they are a friend to your thyroid, increase circulation of the lymph and are known to alkalize and detoxify the blood.
Majestic seaweeds are soothing on the digestive tract and the lungs. these veggies are quite nourishing to eat during the winter months when folks are more susceptible to respiratory and digestive illnesses because they contain mucilaginous properties.
Some popular kinds to try are hijiki, wakame, nori, kombu and arame.
Miso is a fermented product, usually made from soybeans although miso can actually be made with other beans like fava, chickpeas, and lentils or grains like fermented rice or barley. It is made into a paste and is particularly popular as daily staple in Japanese cultures.
It is loved for its comforting savory flavor and its health enriching properties. Miso provides the digestive tract with beneficial gut bacteria that improve your immune systems ability to fight infection. Since the intestinal lining contains 90% of a person’s immune complexes it is really important to keep the digestive tract well populated with these good bugs found in miso and other fermented foods and drinks.
You can make soup with the miso paste or it is wonderful used in a dressing for salads, noodles or other dishes. The one key nugget to keep in mind when preparing miso, in particular as a soup, is that it is NOT to be heated to the point of boiling, as it will kill off the beneficial bacteria.
Enjoy eating to stay healthy and well!!
In vivo enhancement of natural killer cell activity through tea fortified with Ayurvedic herbs. Phytother Res. 2010 Jan;24(1):129-35. doi: 10.1002/ptr.2889.
The New Optimum Nutrition Bible, Patrick Holford, 2004
Healing With Whole Foods, Paul Pitchford,1993