I believe the best way to stay healthy is by choosing an array of foods to boost your immune system because not all foods are created equally. Of course, it’s important to consume antioxidant-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables, which also provide many of the micronutrients to strengthen your immune system. Other important foods are whole grains, healthy fats and lean proteins to maintain good immune system health to deflect infection and illness.
It’s important to consume several key foods to build an optimal immune system. In fact, a good goal is to consume at least 35 different foods per week to ensure your body obtains all the macronutrients-carbohydrates, protein and fats and the micronutrients-vitamins and minerals such as calcium, iron and vitamin C to optimize your immune system. Below is a list of foods that you can easily include in your diet. Since we are heading into the cold and flu season, now is the time to consider eating these foods to improve your immune system defenses. And, if you do get sick, having a healthier immune system will minimize the severity or shorten the length of your symptoms.
5 Simple Immune Building Foods:
Various studies have shown that garlic has antibacterial and antiviral properties. It has been shown to stimulate the production of white blood cells and can act as an antioxidant in the body. Garlic can be easily added to so many dishes, such as soups and dips.
Berries are rich in vitamin C and bioflavonoids, phytochemicals found in fruits and vegetables that may work as antioxidants and prevent injury to cells. One cup of strawberries contains as much as 100 mg of Vitamin C, which is nearly as much as a cup of orange juice. Dark berries such as blueberries are especially high in bioflavonoids. For an optimal immune system boosting effect, eat a bowl of mixed berries rather than just one type.
Omega 3 fatty acids and other healthy fats help increase the activity of white blood cells. They may also play an important role in the production of compounds that regulate immunity in the body and help protect the body from damage from overreaction to infections. You can kick up any fish recipe by adding extra immune building ingredients such as ginger, garlic, onions, parsley, cilantro and turmeric.
4. Plain Greek Yogurt
One serving of plain Greek yogurt can contain as much as 15-30 grams of protein, which is two to three times the amount in regular yogurt, not to mention that it is lower in sugar and loaded with calcium. The beneficial live cultures in yogurt, such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, may help prevent colds and other infections. I keep my refrigerator stocked with plain Greek yogurt because it’s such a useful healthy alternative to fatty sour cream, salad dressings or even desserts. My favorite quick and healthy dessert recipe made with Greek yogurt is simple, just add 100% cocoa powder, vanilla extract and peanut butter and it’s delicious.
5. Leafy Greens
I love green foods, especially leafy greens such as Swiss chard, kale, turnip greens and spinach. Not only are they healthy, but they are powerful for the immune system because they contain immune-boosting vitamins, such as vitamin C. Vitamin C supports the immune system by having antioxidant properties, which can help protect your body from oxidative stress. Leafy greens also contain fiber, which naturally help your digestive system eliminate toxins through the digestive tract. This helps the immune system because the more often you can eliminate toxins, the less work your immune system has to do. Leafy greens contain other immune-boosting vitamins and minerals like folate, iron, and vitamin E. You don’t have to eat salads every day; instead, add greens to a sandwich, to an omelet, in a smoothie or in stir-frys. For extra immune power, sauté leafy greens with garlic and coconut oil.
An Immune Building Soup Recipe:
MAMA’S HOMEMADE VEGETABLE SOUP
This is my daughters’, Adrienne and Gabby, favorite soup that I make. Per request of my daughter, Gabby, I am going to Austin this weekend and we will prepare it together. This recipe makes a huge amount, about 40 servings, so feel free to cut it in half. Since I make it once a year, I freeze most of it in single portions and eat it year round, with plenty to give away.
- 1& ½ gallons of water
- 1 large chuck roast
- 6 beef bouiloin cubes
- 3- 6 oz cans of tomato paste
- 1- 24 oz tomato sauce
- 1-24 oz diced tomatoes
- 2 cans of Rotel tomatoes
- 2 large onions
- 1 small stalk of celery
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 yellow squash
- 1 zucchini
- 2 turnips
- 1 small cabbage
- 2 pounds of carrots
- 2 pounds of potatoes
- 1 bag of frozen mixed vegetables
- 1 bag of frozen corn
- 2 cups of whole wheat penne pasta
- cup of cilantro
- add salt and pepper
- Put your water to boil and add your big chuck roast and cook for ~2 hours. While, it is boiling, add your onions, garlic, celery, tomato paste, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, rotel tomatoes. Once your chuck roast is cooked and is tender, take it out, cut the meat into cubes, then put it back into the pot.
- Then add your processed vegetables: squash, zucchini, turnips and cabbage (I process them in a food processer).
- Add sliced carrots and potatoes
- Add mixed vegetables and corn
- Add pasta
- Add cilantro at the end.
Nutrients: Calories: 229, Total Fat: 9 g, Sat. Fat: 3.6 g, Carbs: 18g, Fiber: 7 g, Net carbs: 11g , Sugars: 6 g, Protein: 18g, Sodium: 342 mg, Cholesterol: 44 mg
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