Your best defense against illnesses and allergies at any time of year is a healthy immune system. Your immune system – your whole body – functions better when it is well nourished. This means getting enough of what you need and getting rid of what you don’t need. Read on for our top five food tips for fighting off illness and springing forward into good health.
1. Eat the Rainbow: Phytonutrients – the naturally protective chemicals found in plants – live in color. When your diet includes a variety of colorful vegetables and fruits you get the full spectrum of these vital immune supporters.
2. Use it All: Eat the roots, peels, stems and leaves. First, it’s less wasteful. Second, it’s good for you: nutrients tend to be distributed throughout the plant in different concentrations. Beets, for example, have more folate in the roots and more Vitamin A in the leaves.
3. Reduce or Eliminate Added Sugars: Sugars that occur naturally in foods like fruits give our cells energy, along with vitamins and fiber. Added sugars – corn syrup, malted barley, molasses, beet sugar, fruit juice and ingredients ending in “-ose” like dextrose and maltose – are sweeteners. They provide extra calories but no nutrients. Over-consumption of added sugars is linked to many diseases, including obesity, heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
4. Increase Herbs and Spices: Fresh, dried or in extracts, herbs and spices are powerful flavor agents and health boosters! Herbs and spices can help reduce inflammation, regulate blood sugar, improve digestion, prevent cell damage and promote healing.
5. Get Friendly with Microbes: Gut health and immune health are inseparable, and what we eat influences the composition of our gut flora, for good or for bad. Combined with the tips listed above, you can increase your good gut bacteria by eating fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, yogurt and kefir.
Learn to cook for optimum health every day in our Seasonal Immune Boosting Class with Chef and Nutritionist Amy Reynolds on Thursday, March 10th.