What Are the Best Foods to Eat to Boost the Immune System This Winter?
Here's a great question I was asked on a health panel recently: "Dr. Kristen, can you tell is in the simplest way, what's the best type of nutritional lifestyle to boost the immune system this winter?"
This is a challenging question because it's hard to put such a large topic into so few words! Additionally, each patient may require a unique lifestyle. But here it goes...
Generally speaking, the best type of nutritional lifestyle should be: Mediterranean-style, phytonutrient dense, low glycemic index, and grain-free.
What does that actually mean for our immune systems during winter in the Midwest?
Well, consuming grains, dairy, and sugar (items that are not found in the nutritional lifestyle above) will result in poor immune function... which not only increases your risk of illness but slows healing. Consuming the amount of sugar found in one 12-oz. can of soda will reduce the white blood cell's ability to destroy germs by 40%! But did you know that fruits and juice are still sugar? From a Chinese Medicine point of view, it's foods like sugar and dairy that promote the formation of mucus.
It's also important to note that scientific research shows that 80% of our immune system actually lives within our digestive system so what we put into our body has a significant effect on immunity. If you want to improve immunity, that really has to begin with the digestive system.
In addition, you can strengthen your immunity by selecting foods that are loaded with immune boosting nutrients.
-Proteins (such as grass feed meats, whey protein, and organic eggs) contain immune enhancers like omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins A and E, zinc, and immunoglobulins.
Organic coconut oil will disrupt the cellular membranes of offending invaders.
Non-fruit fresh foods with high "ORAC Scores" will neutralize free radicals. I'd recommend spices, ginger root, garlic, artichokes, cabbage, broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, and spinach.
Garlic: it's antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal. Unlike traditional antibiotics, bacteria / yeast / viruses won't build up a resistance to it.
Here's a recipe for my healthy tea: 8 oz. hot water, 1 tea bag (decaf green), ? fresh squeezed lemon, 1 dollop of raw honey to soothe the throat (optional), and a sprinkle of cinnamon and cloves.
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