Flu season has already begun and we have a LONG way to go before it wraps up for the year. Rather than hit your body hard with nutrients when you first feel symptoms come on, try a proactive approach to keep your immune system running smoothly all year long. Let’s be honest, nobody wants to spend a “sick” day actually feeling sick.
If you grocery shop on a semi-regular basis, odds are you have an arsenal of immune boosting nutrients right at your fingertips, start in the kitchen to build your foundation for overall good health with these suggestions:
Reduce refined carbohydrates and sugar in the diet. Refined carbohydrates and sugars not only impact skin, mood, and energy levels; they can also result in a state of chronic low grade inflammation that impacts immune function. Swap soda for kombucha, snack on macadamia nuts over chips, or try our veggie noodles in place of pasta (zoodles, Palmini noodles, and kelp noodles are a few of our favorites).
Incorporate fermented foods into your diet for optimal gut microbial balance. Probiotics are all the rage right now, and they’re a tool we often recommend to our clients; however, they don’t take the place of fermented foods in the diet. Diversity is crucial for gut health and a little natural fermentation goes a long way. You don’t need a a huge helping of sauerkraut at every meal, but try a tbsp in your smoothie, add some raw apple cider vinegar to your salad dressing, or blend fermented miso into a soup for flavor and nutrition. These little additions are highly beneficial for gut health - which comprises about 70% of your immune system.
Get several servings of fresh vegetables and fruits everyday. These ordinary foods (that you know you should have) provide you with a hefty dose of vitamins and phytonutrients that fight free radicals and reduce inflammation in the body. Aim for citrus fruits, bright greens, and bell peppers for maximal Vitamin C. Add them to soups and stews throughout the winter for easier digestion and absorption.
Be open minded about your diet. If you find yourself frequently getting sick for no good reason, take a closer look at your diet. Are you reacting to certain foods resulting in chronic inflammation? Is your blood sugar imbalanced leading to excess cravings and weight gain? Get in touch with an expert to help you put the pieces together. There is strong evidence suggesting certain approaches enhance immunity more than others, such as a well formulated ketogenic diet.
Supplement when appropriate. When you nutrition is in alignment with your goals but you’re not achieving the results you desire, supplements may be an ultimate game changer for you. Some of the most effective foundationals for immune support include: probiotic strains targeted for immunity, Vitamin D (especially for those in northern climates), and Omega 3's. Stay tuned for part II in this series which addresses herbal support from food, teas, and extractions - and yes we have even more creative solutions that Elderberry!