Our immune systems are our natural defense when it comes to battling illnesses like colds and the flu. Exercise, sunshine, and fluids all help the body work at its highest potential, so less days are spent sniffling on the couch. Food plays a critical part in keeping the cells within our mighty system functioning great, with essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. We took our list a step beyond, and decided to give you actual meal and snack ideas that incorporate healthy ingredients. These foods will put you a step ahead by boosting immune health.
Golden Milk Latte
The key ingredient to a golden milk latte is super yellow turmeric, and most of us have heard the praises of this miracle spice. Not only does it make a sunny, happy looking morning beverage, turmeric can reduce the chances of cancer or other illnesses, and is especially effective when paired with black pepper. However, a golden milk latte features other immune essentials like vitamins A, D and E via almond milk, along with cinnamon and illness busting ginger.
Garlicky Chicken Soup
Chicken itself contains zinc, and is the base of the best comfort food ever—a savory noodle soup. Carrots are full of antioxidants like beta carotene, which reduce inflammation. Inflammation is the root of disease and illness, so reducing it will give you a strong foot ahead. Garlic gives this classic an extra punch with antiviral properties, and simultaneously enhances the incredible flavor of this dish overall.
Spinach and Kale salad
The sky is the limit when preparing a salad. A load of organic veggies are going to help the body tremendously. Specifically, red bell peppers are full of vitamin C, as are lemons which would make a great garnish. Spinach and kale alone have illness fighting potential. Try marinating the kale with a little lemon and olive oil the day before, then add your spinach, and peppers. Top it with salmon, trout or even sardines, but we have some other fishy dishes below as well.
Grilled Salmon with Asparagus
Omega 3s are an important fatty acid which support the immune system, and salmon is a good source. Antioxidants, vitamin E, and a specific amino acid that can help prevent urinary tract infections reside within the simple asparagus spear. Luckily, with a little olive oil and antimicrobial garlic powder, it cooks to heavenly perfection along side salmon, on the grill. Be sure to cook it to a nice bright, crispy green, so the nutrients aren’t depleted via too much heat. Squeeze a little lemon on top for added benefit.
Broccoli is a jackpot for antioxidants, and zinc. Shiitake mushrooms infuse B vitamins, vitamin D and selenium to supercharge immune defense, while other types of mushrooms, such as button, can be effective as well. Tofu is a fantastic alternative to inflammatory red meat, but be sure to buy organic—it’s still a very cheap option. Zinc and iron both build immune health and are found in reasonable amounts within versatile tofu. Sauté in anti inflammatory extra virgin olive oil.
Smoothies can either be full of sugar, or really nutritious. In the freezer section of the grocery store, are often frozen Açaí packets, filled with not too sweet juices of the superfood berry. Use this with almond milk as a base, and build a smoothie with fresh or frozen fruits, and a handful of spinach. Pomegranate juice adds antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties —be mindful because it does contain a lot of natural sugar. Plant-based yogurt and nut butter add a bit more creaminess and substance.
Almond Flour Pancakes or Waffles
Almonds alone have a bounty of nutrients that rev up the immune system, like vitamin E, an antioxidant that allows our illness fighting cells to work at maximum potential. Iron helps blood transport oxygen, which of course is vital for every body function—almonds have this mineral. Almond flour can replace regular flour when making waffles or pancakes, with a few adjustments. Keeping a little regular flour in the recipe can prevent them from falling apart. Subbing in almond flour adds immune boosting nutrients, while reducing carbs. Mix in a little elderberry juice with your regular maple syrup and you’ve got a tasty, healthy breakfast. (Pure maple syrup is a booster too!)
Yogurt with Berries
Vitamin C, bioflavonoids, and phytochemicals are found in berries, and are essential for a strong immune response. Yogurt is full of probiotics, or good bacteria that are essential in forming healthy gut bacteria, which has been touted as the core of our entire immune system. There’s not many refreshing breakfasts like grass fed milk yogurt topped with juicy, sun ripened blueberries. Nutrients in oats can ward off infection, so a dash of granola is perfect. Honey also takes down illness causing entities.
Chocolate Dipped Strawberries
It just keeps getting better! Strawberries improve immune cell function because of their doses of vitamin C. Dark chocolate with minimal sugar and raw ingredients is notoriously anti-inflammatory. But studies have also shown that the indulgent treat could enhance immune cell production, helping combat potential pathogens. Put the two together and you not only have a fancy treat, but one that will help your body, rather than hurt it.
Nuts like almonds and sunflower seeds are key ingredients in a good trail mix, and both happen to contain decent amounts of vitamin E. Other add ins like pumpkin seeds add a dose of zinc, to help with immune cell production. Walnuts also have immune enhancing vitamins E and B6, copper, and folate. Dried cherries put in a boost of melatonin for better sleep, which is known as a key component to staying well. Trail mix can be quite the powerhouse snack.
Baked Sweet Potato Fries
You don’t have to create these in fry form, but man are they good that way. (Remember overcooking depletes nutritional value). Sweet potatoes deliver vitamin A, decreasing body inflammation. Toss in olive oil and sprinkle with rosemary, which not only improves circulation, but knocks out inflammation too. However if you want to bake your sweet potato, top it with cinnamon, which can help control blood sugar, reducing the risk of infection. Instead of butter, opt for viral eliminating coconut oil and a touch of sea salt.