Top Foods for the Immune System
‘Tis the season…of snuffles, cough drops, sneezing, and my favorite, cozy nights…
These past few days at work people have been coming in looking for a juice or herbal extract that will…”help me with energy and drowsiness.” I also get this one pretty often- “I’ve been feeling like I am coming down with something, do you have anything that will lift me up or prevent a cold?” I guide our customers towards our fresh drinks that are heavy on the leafy greens, drinks that are abundant on phytonutrients (such as beets, carrots, yams), and drinks or smoothies made with nutrient dense herbs and spices such as Turmeric, Cinnamon, and Ginger.
We have to types of immune system: The extracellular immune system and the intracellular immune system. The extracellular immune system protects your internal organs. The intracellular immune system works inside of the cells. Your immune system’s job is to protect your body from invaders (such as parasites) and toxins. Our immune system protects us by the act of phagocytosis (cells with receptors that ingest and destroy invaders and foreign particles) and inflammation (a reaction to indicate where there needs to be healing and protection).
With the winter well on its way and medical authorities pushing flu shots, I am more than happy to share with you guys natural remedies that will sure boost your immune system.
Red Bell Peppers- Did you know Red Bell Peppers have more Vitamin C than an orange? I always grab a red bell pepper to put through my juicer to get that Vitamin C punch and a boost of energy.
Dandelion Greens- (stands for “lion’s tooth”) are actually an herb. They are much higher in iron and calcium than other cultivated plants, even Kale! (Ha! I’ve been going after people’s butts suggesting them to include other greens than just always kale kale kale.) Dandelion Greens are also high in Vitamin C, anti oxidants, and anti-inflammatory compounds. They are so nutrient dense it would be a good thing to make them part of your eating. I either juice them or blend them into a smoothie. Other dark leafy greens such as Spinach are great to have more often.
Pumpkin Seeds- So high in Zinc. We need Zinc as it is a crucial mineral needed for the immune system. One of its roles is to gather your white blood cells to attack foreign invaders.
Beets- A superfood of all the vegetables. Eat them whole or juice them. It is so nutrient dense, energizing, and a blood purifier. It helps your body to detoxify by strengthening your liver. The beta-carotene helps to strengthen your immune system cells. The betalain gives beets their dark red color. This compound is a powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and fights fungus.
Celery- A very alkalizing green great for the immune system. Celery stalks contain a great amount of vitamins B1, B2, B6 and C and provides us with a healthy dose of potassium, folate, calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, sodium and essential amino acids.
Mushrooms- One of the top foods that contain a big deal of anti oxidants. They are a natural source of Vitamin D, they help prevent disease, and contain a good amount of Selenium which helps white blood cells fight off bacteria and viruses.
Fish- Here is the deal with meat. If you eat meat and you want it to benefit your health, not make it worse, opt for organic and grass fed sources, as well as wild caught fish. Fish is such a great source for Vitamin D. Vitamin D is crucial in keeping your immune system up as well as preventing cancer. Don’t let your Vitamin D levels go unnoticed.
Fresh Garlic- This is one of my favorites. Fresh raw garlic. Powerful. Garlic contains a phytochemical called allicin which is anti microbial. If garlic is cooked, its anti microbial properties will be weakened. I love adding raw pressed garlic onto sweet potatoes. You can also chop your fresh garlic very finely and swallow it with water.
Dark Chocolate- (Oh, I totally heard you say “yes!”). Dark chocolate is incredible when it comes to anti oxidants, reducing stress, and improving circulation. These are all important things for a healthy immune system. Dark chocolate is so high in polyphenols that it makes it a strong anti oxidant, winning over wine and green tea. Be aware though, the higher the sugar content and milk content will make it less effective. Another great fact about dark chocolate is that it enhances the absorption of other foods paired with it. This is why I love to infuse herbs or green smoothies with dark chocolate or eat dark chocolate while drinking an herbal tea.
Most important of all, Healthy Gut- You need to have a healthy working digestive system in order to absorb these nutrients. Your digestive system will benefit greatly from having good eating habits and drinking enough water. Probiotic foods will help your digestive system to work efficiently. Try yogurt, sauerkraut, kefir, miso soup, and good quality probiotic supplements. Your immune system is tightly tied with your digestive system.
Things I have been incorporating more of:
Besides enjoying the foods mentioned above, I’ve also been taking a small spoonful of Apple Cider Vinegar in the mornings, and adding fresh ginger to smoothies.
Would love to learn about some of your tips! I’m always interested in learning about what others are doing to prevent the sick days or help them heal faster.
And remember….eat as fresh and whole as you can for better health and energy.