Enhancing Your Immunity, by Alexa Rosenthal
27 September, 2016
Where did the summer go? Transitioning from season to season can be a challenging time for our bodies to stay healthy. Some of us start fighting sore throats, congestion, and body aches before the heart of winter is upon us. It is never too early to begin to enhance our immune system to prepare for our Northwest winter. Take a look at our list of food-based immunity aids. You will be reminded of what works for you or be inspired to try something new!
Probiotics: We hear a lot about the importance of taking a probiotic and the powerful benefits they provide for our digestive system. Our gut houses a majority of our immune health and taking a probiotic, especially when you want to improve your immune health is one of the best preventative measures you can do! If you are already taking a probiotic make sure to switch up your brand. Each brand carries different strands and strengths. Increase your dose if you feel like you might be coming down with something.
Mushrooms: Mushrooms contain some of the most potent natural medicines on the planet. Adding one or two servings of dried or fresh shitake mushrooms was found to have a positive effect on immune system function. We are lucky to live in area that has an abundance of edible mushrooms. Check out your favorite grocery store for local offerings.
Seaweed: If you love sushi then you are eating seaweed but if you do not enjoy sushi make sure not to overlook this one! Seaweed has critical nutritional offerings for our bodies. If you don’t think you can stand the idea of eating seaweed try sprinkling a little bit of Dulce seaweed on top of your salads. It can replace your need and desire for table salt. Beside seaweed being a fabulous source of iodine (thyroid health), it will provide your body with many important micro minerals.
Garlic: Through ancient history garlic has been used primarily for its health and medicinal properties. Raw garlic will give you a huge jolt of immune support, but cooked certainly has strong benefits as well. Add a clove of crushed fresh garlic to your salad dressing. If you are really congested and not well remember the mixture of a cup of hot water, clove of fresh garlic, a tablespoon of raw honey and half a fresh squeezed lemon.
Ginseng: Ginseng is best known for its traditional use of boosting memory and energy levels. However, it has many other uses. For starters, ginseng is considered an adaptogen, which means it helps your body withstand mental and physical stress. Ginseng extracts produce antimicrobial compounds that work as a defense mechanism against bacterial and viral infections. Studies show that ginseng’s polyacetylene compounds (specific phytonutrient also found in carrots and celery) are effective against bacterial infections. Enjoy ginseng as a tea.
Horseradish: Horseradish gives heat to the body to fight off those annoying viruses that sometimes linger in your body for a long time. Whether it’s fighting the flu and respiratory disorders or combating tonsillitis and urinary tract infections, horseradish is a condiment that can help keep you healthy. Nearly every part of the horseradish plant has some medicinal value, and it has been used for centuries to treat a wide variety of ailments. Tea made from its root has been used as an expectorant, while tea brewed from its flowers can be used to fight the common cold. Wasabi and seafood cocktail sauce tend to be the common recipes that include horseradish. Be creative and add some fresh organic horseradish to your salad dressing.
Ginger: Ginger has endless immune and anti-inflammatory properties! Of course it is well known as a digestive aid. Whether dried, fresh or pickled, there are many ways to incorporate ginger into your diet. Add ginger to soups and stir-fry’s, brew as a tea or put a fresh piece into a smoothie or juicer.
Cayenne: Cayenne pepper provides heat to the body that stimulates and strengthens immunity. The pepper also contains vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin E, potassium, manganese and flavonoids – which provides its powerful antioxidant properties. It has been used for both food and medicine for the last 9,000 years! Cayenne pepper can stimulate your body’s circulation and reduce acidity.
Miso: Miso soup contains a number of immune boosting minerals. Most fermented foods in general will contain high levels of probiotics for the body to build and maintain health. Miso is very alkalizing (limit acid-forming foods in your diet and eating foods that alkalize your body instead) and strengthening to the immune system helping to combat a viral infection.
Vitamin C with bioflavonoids (plant chemicals): This one is easy! Think foods that are high in vitamin C. Enjoy your favorite citrus fruits and freeze your summer crop of berries and eat all winter long. Berries are especially great in a smoothie or with whole plain organic yogurt (Yes, whole fat yogurt, we will save this discussion for a future e-blast). Remember the seaweed listed above? Another reason to add seaweed to your diet is it is rich in Vitamin C and it’s a plant source, wow!
Oregano: Cook with oregano whenever possible. It is easier to use this spice in the colder months as we prepare more soups and make sauces for our favorite warm dishes. Oregano is also a great spice to add to salad dressings. Oregano oil which is extremely concentrated (should always be diluted) will help with bacterial overgrowth in the gut and is fabulous if taken early before a cold or illness takes hold.
Most of the items on this list are easily tolerated by the body because they are food based. You may already enjoy the immune building effects from these powerful foods and spices. Hopefully, you have found a new food or herb to add to your winter regime for staying healthy and strong in mind, body and soul!