My Favorite Immune Boosting Foods
Temperatures are finally dropping here in Tennessee. While I’m happy that it feels like Fall, I’m finding myself in the middle of our family’s first cold-weather sickness. As we head into cold and flu season, I’m making sure my kitchen stays stocked with my favorite immune-boosting foods.
As soon as I wake up in the morning, I like to take a shot of my favorite detox mix on an empty stomach. It includes 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar, 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice, and a sprinkle of cayenne pepper. If I have time, I also juice some fresh turmeric and/or ginger root to add in. For breakfast I like to start with half a grapefruit. This way, I know I’m starting my day with vitamin C, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory support.
When we think about vitamin C, we usually think about citrus fruits first. But did you know that red bell peppers actually contain twice as much vitamin C as citrus? I enjoy my peppers sliced raw for snacking or pureed into a warming soup.
When getting my vitamin C from citrus fruits, I make sure to prioritize the whole food over juice. Remember to wait 30 minutes before brushing your teeth when eating citrus on an empty stomach to protect your tooth enamel.
In addition to the benefits, garlic provides for heart health, it’s also a natural antibiotic so I like to take it when I have a cold or a fever. I simmer two or three garlic cloves with a cinnamon stick, and three whole cloves, turmeric and ginger in a plant-based milk for about 10 minutes on low heat. Add a little maple syrup and drink it while it’s nice and warm!
You can also try taking raw garlic; you can swallow it with water or chew it if you don’t mind the strong taste.
If the idea of downing a raw clove of garlic seems a bit intense, think more food-minded. Try incorporating it throughout the day by adding it to other foods you regularly eat, like hummus, salad dressings, soups, etc.
Ginger is my favorite natural remedy. It helps me with digestion, headaches, colds, the flu, and sore throats. My father, who is Indian and follows the Ayurvedic diet, frequently uses ginger. In our family, we’ve made it into a sort of game. Raw ginger tastes pretty awful and it burns a little. When we chew it, we make the funniest faces, which is great because they say laughter is the best medicine.
You can also try juicing your ginger or adding it to smoothies, soups, curries, or beans.
Mint helps relieve congestion and has antibacterial and pain-relieving effects. My favorite way to consume mint is in a nice cup of tea. It can also brighten the flavor of your favorite green juice or smoothie. This one shouldn’t leave you making funny faces if you chew it raw.
I could go on and on about other superfoods that are amazing but the best food-based way to prevent the cold and flu this season is to eat a balanced diet. Lifestyle immune-boosters include frequent hand washing, getting good sleep, managing stress, and practicing self-care.