How is everyone doing?
It’s time to take a deep breath. Let’s take this moment of “pause” in our lives to focus together on what we can take of control of in our new normal.
There has been a flurry of social media postings on eating to “prevent” the coronavirus, or to “boost” your immune system. It is appealing to think that there is one food, or supplement that you can take and it will have an instant and dramatic impact on your body. But that idea of a single cure-all food or supplement is not realistic and more importantly, not a productive way to spend your energy or your dollars.
The immune system is exactly that - it’s a system. As a system, the robustness of your immune response depends on a complex interaction of your genes, age, environment along with diet habits, lifestyle, and movement.
Instead of pursuing an elusive magic-bullet of the perfect superfood or supplement, consider viewing this time of anxiety over the health of ourselves, and our loved ones, as a moment to build food-as-medicine habits into your daily life. One positive change you can make right now is ADDing new foods into your every day to replenish nutrients critical to keeping your immune system firing on all four cylinders.
Start with small changes. Choose 1 or 2 new foods to add into your meals or snacks and build on these over time. Before you know it, you will have new food-as-medicine favorites that you turn to again and again, while feeling good about support your health!
Top 4 Immune Supporting Foods
Vitamin C is widely recognized as a powerful antioxidant that supports the immune system and curbing of the stress response. Vitamin C-rich foods include: Citrus (lemon, lime, grapefruit), tropical fruit (pineapple, kiwi, mango, papaya), berries, broccoli, cauliflower, leafy greens, bell peppers.
⇨ Add a squeeze lemon or lime into club soda
⇨ Top sliced strawberries with mini dark chocolate chips for a snack
⇨ Make a broccoli & cauliflower stir fry. Try this delicious recipe Kale & Broccoli Stir Fry
⇨ Add jarred bell peppers to your sandwich
Zinc is a powerful antioxidant and is required to activate certain immune cells. Zinc-rich foods: beans, shellfish (frozen or fresh - crab, lobster, oysters), grass-fed beef, organic dark meat chicken, raw pumpkin seeds, yogurt, raw cashews, wheat bran.
⇨ Bean salad: chop up raw vegetables + a can of beans + lemon juice, olive oil + spices
⇨ Cupped palmful of cashews or pumpkin seeds with fruit
⇨ Add flax or chia seeds into your favorite breakfast cereal
Vitamin D has antiviral, antimicrobial, and pro-hormone properties and has been shown to protect against upper respiratory infections by calming a pathogen and fight against bacteria and viruses. Vitamin D-rich foods: Wild caught fish (salmon, sardines, mackerel), eggs (pastured eggs contain 3-4x higher vitamin D levels vs. non-pastured), mushrooms [will depend on UV exposure], cod liver oil.
⇨ Egg & vegetable frittata for breakfast. Try this Chard, Zucchini & Tomato Fritatta
⇨ Roasted salmon with garlicky broccoli
Pre-biotics & Probiotics - Did you know that 70% of your immune system resides in your gut and is supported by probiotics (live bacteria in fermented foods) & prebiotics (fiber that is food for the probiotics).
Probiotics: yogurt, kombucha, sauerkraut (must state “live cultures”, kimchi, tempeh. Hint: All of these will be found in the refrigerator section.
Prebiotics: beans, asparagus, garlic, onions, banana (no spots), oats, apple, flax. All whole plant foods contain prebiotics (eat more veggies!)
⇨ Greek yogurt + berries
⇨ Rolled oats + banana (no spots) + ground flax or chia seeds
⇨ Apple + nut butter
⇨ Grilled chicken breast + sauerkraut (found in refrigerator section, must state “live active cultures”)