Thursday, January 10, 2013

Prevent Sickness with Immune-boosting Foods

Everyone is getting sick.  Friends, co-workers, the city of Boston.  I don't know about you, but I am seriously freaked out.

Last year, I came down with a terrible flu the same evening a friend and I were scheduled to drive five hours from New York City to Syracuse for Christmas.  Needless to say, I was a mess, and I don't EVER want to get the flu again.  Even though I have a pretty healthy diet, I'm making an extra effort this time of year to consume more of these immune-boosting foods.

If you're also looking to prevent the maelstrom of pain that is the influenza virus (which I'm assuming you are, because only crazy people think getting that sick sounds like happy-fun time), check out these foods and get your body into prime disease-fighting shape!

Red bell peppers contain twice the vitamin C of oranges, though citrus is still high in vitamin C and a healthy winter snack.  Consume with blueberries to help boost your body's ability to absorb vitamin C.

Kale contains immune boosting C, A, and glucosinolates which form isothiocyanates that help the cells with their detoxifying processes.

Oysters contain zinc and helps the immune system make t-cells.  Other fish also contain selenium which helps white blood cells produce proteins that actually remove the flu virus from the body.

Pumpkin seeds are also high in zinc, while brazil nuts are high in selenium.

White tea contains the highest amount of antioxidants, but green and black teas are effective as well. Avoid adding dairy to your tea as the protein in dairy, casein, bonds to the beneficial phytochemicals before your body can absorb all of them.

Mushrooms contain beta-glucan which improves the function of the immune defense cells.  Wheat germ, barley, and oats also contain beta-glucan.

The probiotics found in yogurt keep your body full of good bacteria which helps fight off illness-causing bacteria.

Garlic contains allicin, which is released when its chopped or chewed and has anti-microbial properties.

Chicken soup, besides being delicious contains cystein, an amino acid released when the chicken is cooked.  It actually chemically resembles the bronchitis drug acetylcysteine and helps to thin mucus.

Here are some ideas to help you consume all of these beneficial foods:

  • Try finely chopping one clove of garlic and putting it on a spoonful of raw honey.  One swallow, and you're set!

  • Oatmeal with blueberries and toasted pumpkin seeds or yogurt with homemade oat, blueberry, and pumpkin seed granola.

  • Raw kale salad with thinly sliced red bell peppers, white mushrooms, and lemon-garlic dressing.

  • Personally, I love to just snack on canned smoked oysters, but I'm dying to try this smoked oyster and mushroom soup recipe, possibly replacing the cream with a non-dairy option and thickening with a kudzu slurry.  (I'll keep you posted on the results!)

And finally, if you haven't already checked out my Greek lemon-chicken soup recipe, now would be the perfect time to whip up a batch to keep on hand.

Did I miss any of your favorites?

Stay healthy!

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