On Friday, I shared my favorite tactics for boosting your family’s immune system to ward off colds and flus- before they start! And one of the best, and easiest ways to boost your whole family’s immune system, is to include immune-boosting whole foods in your everyday meals. By simply ensuring you’re providing your family with a wide variety of real foods, with a hefty handful of immune-preventative ingredients, you are well on your way to a healthier, sickness-free family. Preventing illness couldn’t be easier- or tastier! Here are 12 of my favorite foods to boost your family’s immune system- and no, there are no fancy worlds-away expensive superfoods included! All of these foods are foods you can easily find (or make) at your local grocery store.
Immune Booster # 1: Leafy Greens (and other cruciferous vegetables)
At this point most of us recognize that we could all use more greens in our life. High in antioxidants, Vitamin C, and B-Vitamins (which improve immune T-cell function), studies show a relationship between leafy green and other cruciferous vegetable consumption with whole-body immunity. Just one more important reason to eat your greens!
How to add more: include more dark leafy greens as well as other cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts) to your daily meals; steam, sautee or add to soups, stews and egg dishes.
Immune Booster # 2: Citrus Fruits (and other Vitamin C rich foods)
Citrus is high in Vitamin C, which has been shown to increase production of white blood cells. Because it’s a water soluble vitamin, we need to replenish it every day- and our body needs more when we are sick or coming down with an illness. Citrus isn’t the only source though, bell peppers, strawberries, broccoli and kale are all high in Vitamin C.
How to add more: Enjoy citrus fruit on it’s own, add juice and zest to meals and salad dressings, and include other Vitamin C-rich foods to your meals!
Immune Booster # 3: Fatty Fish
Studies show Omega-3’s, like those in fatty fish, boost immune function, not to mention aid our bodies in absorbing important fat-soluble vitamins (like Vitamin A and D, essential for immune function).
How to add more: Include fatty fish (like salmon, tuna, mackerel or sardines- or other omega-3 foods like walnuts, flax, chia and hemp seeds) at least 2-3x a week.
Immune Booster # 4: Berries
Berries are known for their antioxidant content; helping the body fight free radicals; but the polyphenols in berries have been shown to have powerful antimicrobial properties.
How to add more: Add berries to your yogurt, smoothies, salads, desserts- or enjoy alone!
Immune Booster # 5: Avocado
Healthy fats, like the monounsaturated fats in avocado, are important for aiding the body in absorbing fat soluble vitamins- and the beautiful thing about nature is, avocados are also high in immune-supportive, fat soluble Vitamin A and E, as well as Vitamin C.
How to add more: Enjoy for breakfast on toast, mashed with cilantro and lime for guacamole; on salads, tacos, burritos and other Mexican and southwestern-inspired dishes.
Immune Booster # 6: Whole eggs
Not only are whole eggs high in healthy fats, Vitamin A and D and protein (the body’s essential building block- especially for the immune system), but they’re also high in immune-boosting Zinc and Selenium
How to add more: Enjoy eggs for breakfast or any time of the day– scrambled, fried, poached, on toast, as an omelet, egg muffins, an egg bake– you name it! Eggs are a nutritional superfood and one of the easiest items to add to your diet.
Immune Booster # 7: Honey
Honey has been proven to boost the immune system, stimulating protective immune cells, in addition to being antibacterial and antimicrobial.
How to add more: Choose honey over sugar in baked goods, in your tea, in smoothies, yogurt bowls and anywhere you want a little extra sweetness!
Immune Booster # 8: Garlic
The main sulphur-containing component in garlic, allicin has been shown to be both immune-supportive (antibacterial, antimicrobial and antifungal) as well as ant-carcinogenic!
How to add more: Add fresh garlic to soups, stews, sauteed vegetables, stir-frys, and in bone broth.
Immune Booster # 9: Bone Broth
Bone broth- one of my favorite daily immune-boosters! Bone broth is packed with collagen- the most abundant protein in the body; as well as essential minerals like calcium, magnesium and sulphur. A study of chicken soup (broth) conducted by the University of Nebraska Medical Center showed that the amino acids that were produced when making chicken stock reduced inflammation in the respiratory system and improved digestion. (1)
How to add more: Making real bone broth at home is simpler than you might think (stay tuned for the recipe, later this week!). Add it to soups and stews, or add some sea salt adn sip it as a warm drink!
Immune Booster # 10: Ginger
How to add more: Add to stir-fries, sushi, sauteed vegetables, fried rice and other asian-inspired dishes, or enjoy grated into bone broth.
Immune Booster # 11: Yogurt (and other probiotic rich foods)
There have been an increasing amount of studies coming out purporting the benefits of a healthy gut microbiome for improved immune function (after all, up to 70% of the immune system is contained within the gut). Yogurt, as well as other fermented foods such as kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut and other pickled vegetables, both aid in gut health and improve immunity.
How to add more: Enjoy yogurt for breakfast or a snack; add to smoothies, use in place of sour cream as a topping and in stews.
Immune Booster # 12: Turmeric Root
This might not come as a surprise to you- turmeric has become all the rage in the natural health world– and for good reason! Curcumin in turmeric root is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent, helping the body fight inflammation (and thus, disease).
How to add more: Add fresh or dried to soups, stews– especially curries, broth, as a tea (golden milk), in smoothies and anything you can think of! It has a rich, earthy taste.
Note: adding black pepper increases the body’s absorbency of this powerful ingredient.
Boosting your family’s immune system is as easy as adding more healthy foods to your daily plate. Share with us below your favorite ways to include immune-boosting ingredients to your daily meals!
Click the image below to download your immune boosting foods list to keep on your fridge to remind you to eat more immune-boosting foods!
Do you have a family favorite immune-booster? Share with us!