Once again, it’s almost time to kiss the sunblock goodbye and pack away the bikinis for another year. As the cold weather sets in, our immune systems begin to struggle, providing opportunity for bugs and bacteria to take over. For this reason, it is important to give our immune systems some extra TLC; one way to do this is through our diet.
It’s pretty amazing to think that 80% of our immunity lies in our gut, and so it makes perfect sense that in order to build our immune systems, we must protect and bring into balance the healthy bacteria in our gut. Supplementing with a high quality probiotic is always a good idea and there are also certain foods that can be added to our diet to give our immune systems a boost.
Consume more Fermented Foods
One area of focus should be on incorporating fermented foods. Our ancestors traditionally enjoyed fermented foods in abundance as it was and is a great way to preserve food. The real benefit, and why these foods are so encouraged, is that fermentation results in food that is alive with enzymes, B-Vitamins and even strains of probiotics! Examples of fermented foods include sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi, kombucha, tempeh, miso, apple cider vinegar and yogurt (preferably a high quality organic and grass-fed).
Eat your Antioxidants
Antioxidants are also important for strengthening our immune systems. Antioxidant nutrients include vitamins A, C, E, Selenium and Zinc. Foods high in these nutrients include your dark leafy greens, orange fruits and vegetables, citrus fruits, nuts and seeds.
Next time you go to the grocery store be sure to pick up some of these Immune supporting foods:
- Fruits – papaya and strawberries
- Vegetables – red bell pepper, broccoli, brussels, tomatoes, sweet potato, carrots
- Butternut squash
- Dark leafy greens – swiss chard, spinach and kale
- Seeds and nuts: sunflower, pumpkin, almonds and cashews
- Mushrooms (shiitake, maitake and reishi are the most potent!)
- Spices: cinnamon, cloves, rosemary, sage, oregano, thyme and turmeric
- Onion and garlic
Here’s how to work some immune boosting foods into your daily regime!
- For breakfast try adding organic berries, yogurt, honey and cinnamon to your favourite smoothie or on top of your oatmeal.
- Swap a glass of kombucha for your midmorning coffee.
- Add a spoon of sauerkraut or kimchi to your salad or with your protein.
- Replace white vinegar with apple cider vinegar in homemade salad dressings.
- Use honey to sweeten tea rather than table sugar or stevia.
- Enhance casseroles or rice/quinoa dishes with miso instead of salt.
- End your day with a comforting cup of tea that will not only give your immune system some TLC, but will also promote a deep and restful night’s sleep.