As a Doctor of natural medicine, I believe strongly in the healing power of nature. So as the cold and flu season approaches, there are many natural approaches to optimizing one’s immune system in order to get yourself ready for battles ahead.
While sleep and stress management are fundamental to health, the foods we put into our bodies help to create the scaffolding of our immune system. This is why, when treating patients, I place a lot of emphasis on the foods that promote health during times when our immune systems can be the most challenged.
WHAT ARE THE FOODS IN A HEALTHY KITCHEN?
- Overall, mushrooms pack a punch for the immune system. They contain a number of compounds that decrease inflammation, balance effective immune responses, destroy infectious microbes and even help to repair nerve cells. Mushrooms have a place in autoimmune conditions, cancer care and digestive health.
- To add an immune boost during the winter, saute maitake mushrooms in a little butter, ghee or olive oil and serve on eggs or salad. Or add diced chanterelle mushrooms to soups or rice dishes.
- Oranges, Rose hips and Rooibos tea all contain Vitamin C
- Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant and scavenger of bad things in the body.
- Studies show that a Vitamin C deficiency decreases the body’s resistance to colds and flu.
- Contain Vitamin C, but berries like blueberries and acai also contain bioflavonoids that help to protect cells
- Vegetable Broth or home-made stock
- Contains minerals and amino acids to support our cells and digestive system
- Fermented foods (but not dairy)
- Are rich in probiotics to support the digestive system
- Approximately 80% of our immune system comes from our digestive system and probiotics help to create a beneficial ecosystem in our gut.
- Use kimchi and sauerkraut as condiments or drink 1-2 oz of low sugar Kombucha 3-4 times a week.
WHAT FOODS COMPROMISE THE IMMUNE SYSTEM?
The first aspect of a healing diet is to avoid or minimize the foods that can bring harm.
- Cane sugar and High Fructose Corn Syrup suppress the immune system
White blood cells help to fight infections and sugar reduces this function.
- Sugar can suppress the immune system for hours after ingesting sweet foods or beverages.
- Regular consumption of sugar also depletes minerals.
- Alters the gut flora therefore compromising the immune system
- Alcohol also causes inflammation and dehydration in the body, both of which divert immune resources from preventing illness.