Living in Chicago means less Vitamin D and more fluctuations in the weather than our bodies can sometimes handle. Combine this with stress, lack of sleep and poor nutrition and your immune system will feel it in return.
Food is one of the most powerful tools we have to help prevent disease and a healthy body begins with a healthy immune system. Food, in it's most natural state, is all the medicine we need. Over the years, I've stopped taking medications and all supplements and rarely get sick or have to visit the doctor. I can greatly attribute my health to my dedication to healthy, balanced eating.
Over 70% of your immune system is in your gut and what you eat forms the foundation of your health. Your immune system maintains homeostasis by defending against viruses and bacteria which can cause inflammation in the body, illness and disease. Nutritional deficiencies can impair immune function, increasing both the risk and severity of infection. Micronutrients are just as important as macronutrients!
Here are my favorite immune boosting foods:
Curcumin is the active ingredient in Turmeric, responsible for the distinct yellow colouring and the impressive list of health properties. Curcumin is anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-bacterial, detoxifying and amazing for digestive health. Turmeric has been linked to the prevention of cancer cell growth and management of inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, asthma, eczema and inflammatory bowel disease. It is a nutritional powerhouse, rich in manganese, zinc, B group vitamins and iron.
HER FIX: My morning detox drink before breakfast is: 2 tbsp organic apple cider vinegar, 1/2 cup grapefruit juice or freshly squeezed grapefruit, 1 cup water and a dash of cayenne, turmeric and cinnamon to kickstart my metabolism.
Studies have shown that ginger has potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. It helps to boost immune function and combat cellular damage. This gut friendly spice stimulates digestion, gut motility and bowel function, while helping to relieve bloating, cramping and nausea. A recent study also found ginger to be as effective as pharmaceutical agents in relieving PMS pain in women.
HER FIX: Add fresh ginger to a cup of hot tea or drink ginger-flavored Kombucha varieties ( I love GT's Synergy!).
Citrus such as oranges, mandarins, grapefruit, lemons and limes are an excellent source of vitamin C which helps maintain the body’s defence against bacterial infections. Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant utilised throughout the body. It is involved in tissue growth and repair, adrenal gland function, immune system support, iron absorption and stomach acid activation. Increased vitamin C requirements are observed in periods of stress for immune system support.
HER FIX: OJ :) I also love to buy cutie mandarins to snack on. They're great for a quick pre-workout carb source.
Carrots contain vitamin A precursors called carotenoids (Beta carotene) that help promote vision and support a healthy immune system. Carrots are also rich in vitamins B complex for energy metabolic, C, D, E, K, fibre, potassium, iron, manganese, copper, iodine, silica, sulphur, chromium.
HER FIX: Carrots and hummus. 😍
Garlic is also an immune system warrior, protecting the body from infections and illness. Garlic contains allicin, a potent phytonutrient that is great for cardiac health. It has been shown to help lower blood pressure, inhibit blood clotting and promote healthy cholesterol levels.
HER FIX: I love adding crushed garlic to my dinner recipe. It pairs well with rosemary herb chicken. Trader Joe's has a crushed garlic can that is super handy to keep in the fridge.
Matcha is the most nutrient-rich green tea in the world. The best matcha needs to be organic and ceremonial grade which is more potent in antioxidants. The antioxidants in matcha are beneficial in strengthening the immune system; green tea keeps the immune system running normally. Healthy immune systems are better at handling infections from bacteria and viruses. Drinking matcha can also make you feel relaxed, calm and happy due to the high levels of L-theanine. This is great for those with elevated adrenal levels who are prone to illness and becoming run down.
HER FIX: avo-matcha smoothie. check out my recipe in an earlier blog post.
Probiotics are live microorganisms (good bacteria) that reside in the gut. Probiotics support our immune system, aid digestion and assist with nutrient absorption into our bloodstream. Take probiotics and/or eat fermented foods. Fermented foods are naturally packed with probiotics that promote healthy gut bacteria. Examples include kefir, kombucha tea, yoghurt, miso, sauerkraut, kimchi and fermented vegetables.
HER FIX: I'm a newly converted Kombucha fan. It can get pricey but it's worth it for your body and health benefits. I would like to start making my own!