Bulking up on some key nutrients while avoiding things like processed foods can go a long way when it comes to bolstering your defences. Eating foods in their whole-food form outshines taking a handful of supplements any day, and tastes much better. Here are some key foods to help keep you away from the Kleenex box, plus my go-to recipe when I want to keep the germs at bay.
It’s true; for every one human cell we have, we have 10 bacteria cells that call us home! While only a small percentage of these may be the disease-causing kind, most are actually quite helpful in protecting us from harm. With the majority living in our digestive tract (which is responsible for 80% of our immune system), upping your intake of traditionally fermented foods is a great way to keep your bacteria healthy & happy. Try including more foods like kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha into your daily diet.
Carotenoid Containing Foods
Think all of those brightly coloured sweet potatoes, squashes, and pumpkins that are in season in the fall, as well as tropical fruits like mango and papayas that can help inject a dose of the tropics into any day. Carotenoids are a pre-cursor to Vitamin A, which our body needs for a healthy immune system, as well as shutting off any unwanted inflammation.
A long-standing favourite, studies are still conflicted about whether or not Vitamin C shortens the duration of the common cold or lessens the severity. One thing is clear though the more stress you are under, the more your immune system is suppressed, and the more Vitamin C your body needs. Try adding a daily dose of Vitamin C to help give yourself a little added protection when you feel like something might be coming on, and make sure to also add lots of lemons, oranges, and peppers to your daily diet as well.
Coconut Oil contains a unique compound known as lauric acid, which converts in the body to monolaurin a compound found in breast milk that strengthens the baby’s immune system. This tropical oil makes a great addition to smoothies, stir-fries, curries, or roasted sweet potatoes.
Known as “nature’s antibiotic”, garlic is naturally antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antiviral. Fresh is best and is great in a wide variety of dishes. If you are up for the challenge try juicing it, along with lemons and ginger, at the first sign of a cold for a potent immune elixir.
Raw Local Honey
Just like garlic, honey is packed with antiviral, and antimicrobial compounds that have been shown effective in treating everything from soothing a sore throat, to helping you beat the common cold, to healing skin wounds that much faster. When it comes to honey, you can’t skip on quality! Only the raw, unpasteurized stuff will do. Raw honey contains a trace amount of propolis, otherwise known as “bee glue”. This glue is actually a complex mixture of resins and other substances that honeybees use to seal the hive and make it safe from bacteria and other organisms. Just a spoonful day will help keep the doctor away!
The spicy kick that ginger gives can promote healthy sweating, helping the body detoxify and rid itself of the nasty bug. If the flu has you feeling a little green, ginger is also a potent anti-nausea remedy, helping to settle even the wooziest stomachs.
Orange Mango Lassi Recipe
1 cup mango, peeled and chopped
1 cup plain kefir
½ orange, juice only
¼ tsp turmeric
¼ tsp ground cardamom
1 1” piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
1 Tbsp raw honey
Add all ingredients into a blender. Blend on high until smooth. Drink immediately.