With the colder weather and holiday season approaching, it’s never too early to do your part to boost your immune system! One of the best ways to do this is by incorporating ingredients/foods that support immune function. Some key nutrients that support immunity are vitamins A, C, E, iron, folate, fiber and really any antioxidant. To keep it simple, I recommend incorporating two things: antioxidant-rich foods and foods that support gut health.
When most people think about immune health, they think of oranges or vitamin C. The reason for this is because vitamin C (found in oranges) acts as an antioxidant! Antioxidants are a powerhouse when it comes to supporting our immune system because they prevent the effects of harmful free radicals in our body, thus, preventing illness and disease. The good news is, they can be found in so many delicious foods, herbs and spices – especially many of the fall foods we love! Some antioxidant-rich ingredients include: cinnamon, turmeric, berries, green tea/matcha, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, ginger, spinach, avocado, dark chocolate, pomegranate, camu camu, manuka honey, etc!
Did you know that about 70% of your immune system is located in your gut? Through the foods we eat, we have a direct impact on the composition and variety of bacteria in the gut. Ultimately, the goal is to maintain a healthy gut with “good” bacteria. One way to improve gut health is to consume a diet high in fiber, which has anti-inflammatory properties (among many others) and can act as a prebiotic to feed the good bacteria in your gut. These are foods like fresh fruits and veggies, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. In addition, consuming foods high in probiotics can help provide your body with that good bacteria. Probiotics can be found in many fermented foods, such as yogurt, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, pickles and miso.
Try some of these fall recipes for a boost in immune health:
- Healthy peppermint bark – the dark chocolate in this recipe offers a boost of antioxidants and other beneficial nutrients, like magnesium. Add even more antioxidants with toppings like pomegranate and pecans!
- Yogurt Bark – If chocolate isn’t your thing, try this yogurt bark for a boost of probiotics. You can use kefir in place of yogurt, too and add additional toppings – get creative!
- Homemade applesauce – the cinnamon and cloves offer antioxidants, while the apples add some fiber!
- Roasted Squash, Pecan and Pomegranate Salad – this recipe is full of both fiber and antioxidants in practically every major ingredient!
- Immunity Boosting Smoothie – this smoothie is a powerhouse of immune supporting ingredients!
- Baked sweet potato with cinnamon and pomegranate seeds. This is my personal favorite fiber-rich, antioxidant-packed recipe for a sweet treat. Trust me, it’s good!
- Bake a sweet potato as you normally would
- Once soft, drizzle olive oil (in lieu of butter) over flesh & mash until fully mashed
- Sprinkle cinnamon and pomegranate seeds over the potato (you can also use raspberries)
Source | UCLA Health 2021
Exercise is only part of the equation in living well and feeling your best. Now you can be fully supported in your health and fitness journey, with nutritional coaching offered right here at the club! Isabel Debnam is a Registered Dietitian supporting the nutritional needs of our community.
Synergy blog content is not medical advice; it’s inspiration to live actively! Be sure to consult your medical provider and incorporate any individual allergies/food sensitivities into your personalized eating plan.