The Fall season kicks off my favorite time of the year. There’s just something about crisp air, pumpkin-flavored everything, and cozy sweaters that makes my heart happy. The only downside of the Fall season is the sickness that often comes with it. Let’s face it, this time of year colds and flus run rampant. But this year, I’m putting my foot down and saying no more! I’m fighting the flu season with immune-boosting foods because as my buddy Hippocrates said,
“Food is thy medicine!”
I firmly believe that food is powerful. Nutrient-dense foods have the power and potency to heal the body and boost the immune system. By consuming plenty of nutrient-dense foods during the Fall and Winter seasons, I’m confident that we can stay healthier than ever this year! Yes, I really believe it can be that simple.
Are you with me?
Garlic is known as an anti-fungal, ant-viral, and anti-microbial. I guess you could say garlic is the ultimate superfood. Not to mention, it makes every savory dish taste that much better. I add freshly chopped garlic in almost any recipe I make. You can rarely have too much garlic!
How to Use:
The consumption of raw garlic has been used for thousands of years as a holistic remedy for many illnesses, including colds, flus, infections, and more. To most effectively boost the immune system, it’s important to consume raw garlic, which is more potent than when it’s cooked. Personally, when I start to feel run down, I’ll add 1-2 cloves of raw, chopped garlic to my breakfast, lunch, and dinner! Raw garlic by itself has a very intense flavor, so I recommend eating it in combination with other foods.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has gained tremendous popularity over the past several years, and for good reason. ACV is a fermented vinegar that contains various enzymes and probiotics, making it an effective tool for proper digestion. It also helps cleanse and detox the gut, lymph nodes, blood, and liver.
How to Use:
When I want to give my immune system an extra boost, I’ll add 1 tbs of ACV to 8 oz. of warm water first thing in the morning. I down this potent solution before eating or drinking anything else. The ACV + warm water helps prime my digestive tract for proper digestion/detoxification and flush any toxins out of my body.
Turmeric, like garlic, is an ultimate superfood. Curcumin, the main compound in turmeric, contains a ridiculous amount of powerful vitamins and healing properties. Turmeric is known for reducing chronic inflammation, regulating blood sugar, and even lowering blood cholesterol levels.
How to Use:
It’s best to buy fresh turmeric root and chop/grind it yourself, as opposed to the ground turmeric seasoning. Try adding fresh turmeric to your smoothies, vegetable dishes, or breakfast omelets. Like garlic, turmeric is has a very potent flavor, so I recommend eating it with other foods.
Collagen is best known as your gut’s best friend. Why? Because it is a key ingredient in healing the digestive tract and promoting optimal gut health. Have you ever heard of leaky gut? When leaky gut is present, large gaps occur in the intestinal lining, allowing toxins and food particles to escape into the blood. Collagen works by healing the mucosal lining in the digestive tract and restoring tight junctions in the gut.
How to Use:
Daily consumption of collagen promotes many health benefits, like reduced bloating, improved skin, hair, and nails, and decreased joint pain. To get your daily dose of collagen, you can sip on warm bone broth or add grass-fed hydrolyzed collagen to your coffee, smoothies, or yogurt.
Despite popular belief, red meat that is grass-fed and finished is one of the healthiest foods. This high-quality meat, compared to conventional meat, contains higher amounts of omega-3’s and CLA, a polyunsaturated fat. Both of these powerful compounds fight free radicals, reduce inflammation, provide aminos, and keep you satisfied longer. Yes, you read that right: sustainably-sourced, high-quality meat can help lower inflammation in the body and provide essential vitamins and minerals. As a result, your body will have more resources and energy to fight toxins and invaders, keeping you strong and healthy!
How to Use:
I’m giving you permission to enjoy burgers, steaks, bacon, or pork chops 1-2 times/week. But, only if they are grass-fed (and finished) or pasture-raised! I recommend getting to know and buying meat from your local farmer. This is the best way to ensure the quality of the meat. If that’s not an option, seek out your local Whole Foods and look for meat that is rated Step 3, 4, or 5. The higher the number, the better the quality.
Pasture-Raised Egg Yolk
Again, despite popular belief, egg yolks are the most nutritious part of an egg. Specifially, free-range eggs or fresh eggs from your local farmer. Egg yolks are considered to be a superfood because they are packed with nutrients, like collagen, vitamins A, B 12, and D, and omega-3’s. These nutrients not only boost the immune system, but can also improve your skin, hair, and nails, reduce the risk of heart disease and metabolic disease, and aid in weight loss.
How to Use:
The richer and more orange the yolk color is, the better. Look for fresh eggs at your local farmer’s market or look for pasture-raised eggs, like Vital Farms.
Last, but not least: elderberry. This immune-boosting food is probably my favorite. It is a staple in my home during the Fall and Winter seasons because elderberry is known to fight viral and bacterial infections. It’s packed with powerful compounds, called anthocyanidins and loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, and bioflavonoids. I guess you could say elderberry is a one-stop-shop for sickness prevention and reduced healing time.
How to Use:
For preventative measure, I take 1-2 tsp daily. If I feel a little cold or flu coming on, I’ll up my dose to 1-2 tbs per day.
Speaking of elderberry, I recently discovered Cassie Green’s delicious and potent elderberry syrup, which is why I’m super thrilled to announce that we’ve partnered together to host a giveaway for my readers! One lucky winner will win a FREE bottle of Cassie’s elderberry syrup, just in time for Fall and Winter. To enter the giveaway: visit my Instagram page, click on the photo below, and follow the simple instructions!
Other Immune-Boosting Tips:
Stress wrecks havoc in our bodies- specifically, our immune system. As cortisol levels increase with stress, our immune system grows weak and leaves us vulnerable to pathogens. It’s important to effectively manage stress to keep your immune system at the top of it’s game. To keep stress at bay, make sure you allow plenty of mental time-outs throughout the day. Give yourself 1-2 minute breaks every hour to walk away from the task at hand, take a few deep breaths, find some fresh air, and re-group before getting back to it.
Staying hydrated is key to so many bodily functions. Minimally, you should drink half your weight (lbs) in ounces each day. I recommend bringing water with you wherever you go! For optimal digestion, drink the majority of your water in between meals (at least 30 minutes outside of eating times). You can also add a sprinkle of sea salt to help with the absorption and utilization of water.
This may be the germaphobe in me speaking, but wherever you go and whatever you do, wash your hands frequently. This is the #1 way to keep yourself free of bacteria and viruses. In addition, keep your hands off your face, lips, nose, and eyes to prevent pathogens from entering your body.
Limit Alcohol & Sugar
Sugar and alcohol keep hinder the immune system. In fact, each alcoholic drink you consume, halts the function of your immune system for at least an hour. The same goes for sugar consumption. So, skip the sugary treats and cocktails this time of year. Instead, opt for a glass of red wine and piece of dark chocolate. And, be sure to consume plenty of nutrient-dense foods throughout the day.
Keeping your immune system strong and healthy this time of year really doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, it’s all about getting back to the basics (with a few additional tips & tools). If you have a favorite immune-boosting tip, please share below. I’m all ears!