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How To Boost Your Immunity Through Foods

May 03, 2022

Are you fearful of coming down with the spicy cold or flu?

No one wants to get sick, but when you are equipped with ways to support your body to heal, you can trust your body's innate healing process and it feels less daunting and more of an opportunity for your body to detox, rest and recover.

Given the right tools through a nourishing diet, lifestyle practises and mindset choices, your body can build resilience and allow for a swifter recovery. 

Here’s some ways you can support your body through your foods and lifestyle.  

INCREASE VITAMIN C RICH FOODS

Vitamin C is an important immune strengthening antioxidant that is not synthesised by your body. Consuming foods rich in vitamin C is therefore needed to supply your body with what it needs. It also plays an important role in healing through collagen production. 

Vitamin C rich food sources include:

  • sauerkraut (fermented cabbage)
  • capsicums
  • green leafy’s such as kale and rocket, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower & brussels sprouts
  • pumpkin
  • root vegetables such as sweet potato, potato & beetroot
  • fruit such as strawberries, citrus fruits, kiwi fruit, rock-melon & tomatoes
  • sprouts such as alfalfa, lentils, cabbage seed, mung beans, adzuki bean sprouts, chickpeas, black eyed peas, radish seeds, kale seeds, watercress seeds, broccoli seeds, mustard seeds, turnip seeds and radish seeds.

Include more of these into your daily diet and  be mindful of ways to conserve the vitamin C content of these foods. Here are some examples of how you can get the most vitamin C from your foods:

  • Store your fruits and vegetables in the fridge (heat destroys vitamin C).
  • Only cut your fruits and vegetables just before preparing to eat and when cutting, cut into larger pieces to prevent as much oxidation as possible (oxygen destroys vitamin C).
  • Use a cold pressed juicer for making juices and drink straight away.
  • Steam and stir fry your vitamin C rich vegetables like broccoli, kale and capsicum (vitamin C is water soluble and will leach into the water on cooking). For this reason, if you are cooking your vegetables in water, such as potatoes, keep the water for adding into soups, slow cooked meals or other cooking. Or add them straight into the slow cooked meal such as tomatoes into an Osso Bucco dish.
  • If you are storing cut fruits, wrap with bees wax wraps before adding into an air tight container. 
  • Avoid freezing vitamin C rich foods for longer than 2 months (vitamin C will be destroyed after freezing for this time).

Starting the day with juice ½ lemon, in warm water is a vitamin c rich drink to build into your morning routine for extra immune support. Or try my lemon gummies for a gut and immune boosting snack- the latter containing a vitamin C rich superfood, Kakadu plum powder.

Camu Camu and Acerola powder are other natural superfood sources of vitamin C. 

CONSUME EASY-TO-DIGEST FOODS

When you’re body is trying to heal, it does not have a great deal of energy for digesting your food.  An easy way to meet your increased need for nutrient rich vegetables, that are easy to absorb, is to make juices and smoothies. Just avoid drinking these cold (best room temp), to also support your digestion.

Celery, green leafy’s (baby spinach, cos lettuce an/or green herbs), cucumber and smaller amounts of carrot and beetroot are nutritious veggies to use. I add a 1-2 cm chunk of ginger root for its warming actions, together with Vitamin C rich lemon.

Soups (especially soup made from whole chickens and feet), meat stocks and slow cooked meals made using homemade bone broth are also very nourishing and will warm and support your body during the colder weather.

Bone broth is high in minerals and gut healing nutrients, which are very easy to absorb and use, especially when you’re fighting the dreaded cold or flu.

When making these dishes, add some medicinal mushrooms like Shiitake for their addd anti-viral properties and if you can use meat cuts that have the added bone marrow to add back into the broth, soup or slow cooked meal- this is immunity gold. Examples are Osso Bucco and lamb shanks. 

USE IMMUNE BOOSTING HERBS 

In times of feeling under the weather reach for the garlic- add to salads, soups, stir-fry, curry and sauces.  Garlic has strong antibacterial properties, so if I start to feel run down I will also add some into a morning juice or smoothie. Definitely a face cringer 😉 

A more palatable way to add garlic into your day, and receive the healing benefits of antibacterial honey, is to cover 3 finely chopped garlic cloves with raw or Manuka honey. Take 1-3 tsp daily, until symptoms subside.

Oregano, thyme and rocket are other great additions to foods and drinks, to help supply the body with natural antimicrobial properties and helping to fight against the common cold and secondary infections such as a chest or sinus infection. For an extra boost, add 1-2 drops of a culinary grade oregano oil into a capsule topped with olive or MCT oil and consume 1-3 daily, over the short term.

LOAD UP ON COCONUT OIL

Enter my favourite superfood, coconut oil. Particularly for the immune system, coconut oil supplies the best source of a type of medium chain fatty acid (MCFA) called lauric acid. Lauric acid is converted to monolaurin in the body. This has powerful antiviral, antibacterial and antiparasitic actions.

Another MCFA which coconut oil contains is caprylic acid, which has yeast-fighting properties. 

Use coconut oil in your cooking for an easy for of delivering the immune boosting properties. 

INCREASE FERMENTED FOODS

Include fermented foods into your day such as sauerkraut, sauerkraut juice, beet kvass, apple cider vinegar (drink with warm water), yoghurt (coconut) and kefir (coconut water). Around 80% of the immune system is found in the digestive system, so you can understand why it is so important to encourage growth beneficial bacteria in the gut, to promote a strong immune system.

UP YOUR FLUIDS

If I feel a sore throat starting, I will hop into multiple fresh Thyme teas, as this herb can help fight against infections that cause the common cold symptoms such as a sore throat and coughs. Thyme is also super easy to grow at home in pots!

Another traditional decongestant remedy includes adding a couple of slices of ginger into a cup or tea pot of boiling water, add a peeled garlic clove and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Let it steep for at least 10 mins and just before drinking (once cooled down),  add 1 tsp Maunka or raw honey and juice of 1 lemon and drink at least 3 cups daily.

If this recipe is too challenging, simply add juice 1/2 lemon, or 2 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar into a glass of warm water 3 times a day.

DITCH MUCOUS FORMING FOODS

Dairy and wheat can contribute to mucous production in the body, so if you are keen to throw away the tissue box sooner rather than later, leave these foods off your plate, bowl and glass.

A weakened immune system is a common consequence many experience from hopping into sugary foods. Sugar competes with our beneficial nutrients and also throws out the crucial balance of good:bad bacteria in our gut. Raw honey is a more health supportive alternative, which will help to fight your infection. 

SOAK UP THE SUN 

I will always take time out of my day, no matter how busy I am, to get some sun on my skin for adequate Vitamin D. Vitamin D is crucial for a well-functioning immune system, so be sure to get your daily dose.

10-20 mins midday sun on bare skin may be enough, but it comes down to your individual needs, so I do recommend to get levels checked 6-12 monthly to ensure you are getting enough from the sun. You can get my tips on optimising your vitamin D levels here

The heat from the sun also helps control germs. 

"Research shows that outdoor sunlight is a natural disinfectant. Fresh air can kill the flu virus and other harmful germs. Sunlight is germicidal and there is now evidence it can kill the flu virus." Tott News.

REST WELL

When life is busy, your stress levels are increased, or your food choices are not optimal, your body is more vulnerable. This is a perfect time for a virus like the common cold, to take hold and present symptoms within your body. 

If you're in the midst of broken Mumma sleep, keep scrolling as I'm right there with you and there's not a lot you can do right now to remedy that one, aside from resting while you can during baby sleeps during the day.

If however you're staying up late, getting too much blue light exposure from screen time or overdoing the stimulates like alcohol, chocolate and coffee, it's time to make some adjustments to get in a decent restful sleep and in turn support your immunity.  

Less sleep leads to a weakened immune system and therefore increases the risk of the lurking germs to get the better of you. Get as much rest as you can when you are feeling weak with an infection and do your best to put healthy practises in place to have ongoing chunks of rejuvenate sleep going forward. Learn more about how light can impact sleep quality here

LET FOOD BY YOUR MEDICINE

There are many ways though your diet and lifestyle, which you can support your immune system. By supporting your body with a nourishing diet, with the additions of immune protective herbs and superfoods, rest and sunshine,  you’ll be surprised how quickly you will recover.

For additional supplement guidance for a sick bubba or toddler, get my guidance within the pages of Thriving Bubba.

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