Five Foods to Boost Your Immune System

Hey lovely ladies! Today I want to share some of my favorite natural ways to fight off colds and flus. The holiday season is upon us and in addition to being the most joyful times of the year, it can also be one of the most stressful. We all know what havoc stress can wreak upon our bodies and just how miserable it can be to get sick when trying to plan for all the wonderful events of the season. I was all set to write another fashion article this week that would give you some helpful hints on how to ’Look Amazing’ when I happened to talk to three of my friends in one day who had all come down with a really bad cold or flu. I was immediately motivated to change course because one thing is for sure, it is almost impossible to Look Amazing if we don’t first Feel Amazing.

I am very lucky that I have been able to stay out of doctors’ offices most of my life. I attribute that to the healthy lifestyle I embraced and committed myself to when I was 18 years old. What started out as a desire to lose weight and stay fit gradually shifted over the years to a full embrace of vegetarianism. I count myself fortunate to live in a society with so much abundance that I can eat healthy without contributing to the suffering of animals. Although I wouldn’t expect everyone to make those same decisions, adding more of these foods to your diet can help your immune system and bring you more in balance with the earth.

That being said, I want to include a disclaimer statement here that I am not a doctor and I am only sharing my story of what has worked for me, so if you are interested in trying the things I have shared with you, please do speak with your doctor first before implementing my lifestyle choices into your own.

The health and wellness industry is one of the fastest growing sectors of the global economy with sales topping the trillion dollar mark annually, but it baffles me why so many people would choose to get their essential vitamins and minerals from supplements when mother nature has given them to us in delicious foods that are all around us. However, sometimes it’s not easy to get enough nutrients just from our food, so that’s why juicing, which provides concentrated amounts of vitamins, minerals and living enzymes, is so integral in helping us fight off viruses and degenerative disease. Although my diet is rich in nutrients year round, when flu season arrives every year, I rev up my intake of certain foods that are known for their ability to build and strengthen the immune system. Eating these foods is not a guarantee to prevent you from getting a cold or flu, but it most certainly should help build your immune system, which will make you less likely to get sick and give your body the tools it needs to heal faster if you do.

Here is a list of my top five foods that I double up on at this time of year at the grocery store and consume in juices, salads, or veggie meals. It’s just astounding to me that Mother Nature is such an incredible artist, as the colors and shapes of these foods are simply gorgeous, aren’t they? Eating these foods raw in salads and juices or smoothies will enable you to get maximum nutrition from them and give you more bang for your buck, as cooking food with high heat destroys many of its nutrients.

Top five immune system building foods:

  • Citrus fruit (especially the pith!)
  • Red bell pepper
  • Garlic
  • Broccoli
  • Ginger

Citrus Fruit:

Citrus fruits are known for being packed with vitamin C, but did you know that most of the vitamin C is in the outer peeling and the ‘pith’? The ‘pith’ is the white spongy layer between the outer skin and succulent flesh of the fruit. If you’ve been in the habit of discarding the pith, I would suggest you re-think this, because you’re discarding a lot of vitamin C. Why exactly do you need Vitamin C if you are trying to avoid colds and flu? Because it plays a crucial role in supporting and building your immune system by enabling your white blood cells to fight off germs, viruses and other harmful bacteria. You’ve paid good money for that pith and it is there to help your body, so why throw it away?

In order to take advantage of the awesome properties of the pith, I try to consume as much of it as possible. However, it does have a bitter taste, but you can disguise it by making a smoothie in a blender combining the fruit with its pith, a banana, honey, water, cinnamon, and another sweet fresh fruit, if you’d like. You can also add pith to your tea drinks which gives your tea a spicy flavor.

Eating the pith not only arms you with vitamin C, but also gives you needed fiber. Fiber is a magnet that pulls waste and toxins from your system and when those toxins are gathered and eliminated, germs, viruses and bad bacteria leave your system. Flus and colds have a harder time finding the necessary environment in which to flourish when your system is clean and void of waste and toxins.

Citrus peel or skin is also filled with vitamin C and is edible, but I would not recommend consuming it unless your citrus fruit is organic. Industrially grown foods are normally sprayed with pesticides and that will certainly undo the benefits of eating the skin.

Red Bell Pepper

You may be surprised to learn that bell peppers, red or yellow, contain far more vitamin C than an orange. Yes, red bell peppers are not only bursting with vitamin C, but they have the added benefit of lots of vitamin A. One red bell pepper a day and you’ve met and exceeded your daily recommended intake of both vitamins C and A. It’s a delicious way to go, and you’re going to up your odds of fighting colds and the flu.

In our house, we eat red bell peppers by finely chopping them and putting them in salads or vegetable smoothies. Sometimes I lightly steam or sauté them along with other veggies when I want a hot dish.

Garlic

Besides the fact that garlic tastes great and adds a distinctive Italian flair to any dish, whole fresh garlic contains life-giving compounds that help strengthen the immune system so it can fight off viruses that cause colds and flu. I eat raw garlic almost daily by finely dicing it and putting in salads and veggie dishes. If I don’t have time to chop it, sometimes I just nibble on a whole garlic clove during a meal. I absolutely love the smell of garlic, so I have never understood why some people complain about it. If you’re ever going to be around me, feel perfectly free to go have that Italian meal before we meet!

Broccoli

Besides being one of the prettiest vegetables on the planet, one that replicates a gorgeous deep green, perfectly shaped tree, broccoli is a nutritional powerhouse. The benefits of this amazing vegetable are too numerous to mention in this article, but trust me, broccoli needs to be a regular food in your diet. It is high in vitamin C and there are certain nutrients that gain retention through the steaming of broccoli. This food seems to have everything going for it. It is anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and includes a list of vitamins and minerals that are sure to give you that fighting chance against the seasonal culprits we’re trying to avoid.

I personally prefer to lightly steam or sauté broccoli because I like the taste far better than when it is uncooked, although I sometimes enjoy small raw flowerets of broccoli in salads. Lightly cooked broccoli tastes amazing when mixed with a little olive oil and Bragg’s Aminos (a healthy alternative to salt or soy sauce) or when combined with other sautéed veggies.

Ginger

In our kitchen, we are totally addicted to putting a tablespoon of peeled, freshly grated ginger root into our hot cup of green tea every morning. That little stinging sensation fresh ginger gives you in your mouth feels very energizing and healing. Ginger is one of nature’s finest on all counts, and there are new discoveries being made every day on the health benefits of this wondrous herb. Known for it’s delicious and distinctive flavor, it contains a shopping list of vital minerals and vitamins, C being one of them, and by now, you know how important Vitamin C is in arming your white blood cells to fight off cold and flu viruses.

You already know that I love fresh ginger daily in my tea, but other ways to eat it is by putting it in fruit smoothies, fresh juices or sautéed veggie dishes. On top of boosting your immune system, you can enjoy the anti-inflammation effects of fresh ginger root, as well as its anti-carcinogen properties.