Boosting Your Health Should Be a Year-Round Endeavor
Your body is always on the job – fighting off bacteria, viruses, infections, parasites, and even dealing with allergies. This isn’t just true for the flu season – it’s a fight that’s happening all year round.
Year-round we go from fighting one battle to another. We find ourselves completely exhausted and depleted. Not just physically, but emotionally. Our bodies are more than likely running on low when it comes to nutrients.
As Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine, and let medicine be thy food.”
Embracing healthy habits to prevent illness is key to staying healthy.
What Makes a Food an Immune-Booster?
Your immune system is made up of a complex network of organs, cells, proteins, and chemicals. This includes antibodies, white blood cells, the spleen, lymph nodes, tonsils, adenoids, skin, the thymus, the stomach, bowels, and bone marrow.
It’s hard work to keep all of these parts of your immune system working well, individually and collectively. And not just working, but working well.
Just like a car needs gas to move, your body needs rest, a healthy environment, and nourishment to keep you at your best.
You find this nourishment through your diet. Foods that are immune boosters have a powerful combination of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and plant compounds.
Now Let’s Dig Into These Immune-Boosting Vitamins and Minerals – and Why They’re So Important.
1. Vitamin C:
Acts as a powerful antioxidant that prevents free radicals from causing damage by destroying them. It also helps the stimulation of antibodies. Basically, it helps prevent infection and shortens the time that they stick around.
Vitamin C sources include:
- Citrus fruits – oranges, tangerines, lemons, and grapefruit
- Leafy greens – spinach and kale
- Brussel sprouts
- Red & green bell peppers
- Honeydew melon
2. Vitamin E:
Vital to keeping you healthy and preventing various diseases. It’s required for the proper function of many organs in your body as well.
Get plenty of Vitamin E by adding these foods to your diet:
- Peanuts/peanut butter
- Avocado/avocado oil
3. Vitamin A (Beta-Carotene):
Assists with the health of your respiratory system and intestines. It reduces inflammation and increases disease-fighting cells in your body.
Great sources include:
- Sweet potatoes
- Green leafy vegetables – spinach, kale, and collard greens
4. Vitamin D:
Known as the sunshine vitamin, reduces the risk of viral infections. It’s key in absorbing calcium and maintaining optimal bone health. It also helps support a healthy brain, heart, teeth, and lungs.
Delicious choices to pump up your vitamin D:
- Fatty fish – salmon, tuna, and sardines
- Egg Yolks
Helps boost white blood cells, and why do we want these guys on our side? They fight against invaders such as viruses, bacteria, pathogens, and fungi. Zinc also aids in wound healing as it’s essential for cellular metabolism and turnover.
Great sources include:
- Meat – beef, lamb, and pork.
- Shellfish – oysters and crab
- Seeds – hemp, flax, and pumpkin
- Nuts – cashews, pine nuts, peanuts, and almonds
Now that we understand a little more about these incredible vitamins and what they do for your body, let’s dig into the top 8 I recommend!
Top 8 Foods to Boost Your Immune System Year-Round:
Let’s show that remarkable body of yours a little love – it’s working so hard to keep you healthy.
Nutrition is one of the easiest ways to do this. So skip the pharmacy if you can and head to the grocery store instead. Eating these nutrient-dense foods will help keep your health top-notch.
This spicy and peppery root is loaded with medicinal properties. It’s no secret that ginger has powerful calming effects on an upset stomach. It eases symptoms such as nausea and vomiting from a long list of illnesses.
Ginger is called a superfood for good reason. It has antiviral and antibacterial properties, stimulates digestion, regulates blood pressure, and positively affects cholesterol levels.
How to use: Slice fresh ginger root and steep in hot water for a comforting tea. You can also use powdered ginger to season meats or try making a homemade ginger salad dressing.
Make it kid-friendly: Whisk up a few teaspoons of chopped ginger and garlic with soy sauce (or coconut-aminos), a splash of orange juice, and honey to taste. Pour this light and delicious sauce over your favorite stir-fry or meat.
Most people think of citrus foods when talking about vitamin C. But did you know that just one cup of broccoli contains 100% of your daily vitamin C needs? Broccoli is full of vitamins A, C, and the antioxidant glutathione.
There’s a long list of benefits that most people don’t even know about broccoli. For instance: it detoxifies the body, improves skin, promotes eye health, strengthens bones, and combats anemia.
It’s easy to find at the grocery store, and it’s an immune-boosting staple.
How to use: Add chopped broccoli to stews and stir-fry, or as a simple side – roasted or steamed. For a comforting dinner, try cheddar broccoli soup.
Make it kid-friendly: Finely chop broccoli and add it to some of their favorite dishes, such as mac and cheese or spaghetti. Serve it raw with an assortment of fun dips like hummus, yogurt, and ranch.
3. Sunflower Seeds
These tiny little seeds are rich in heart-healthy fats and high in protein, as well as antioxidants. They’ll do wonders for your skin, immunity, and overall health.
Did you know sunflower seeds are exceptional for expecting mothers? The high levels of folate, zinc, and vitamin E help to support the placenta, along with fetal development.
They may be tiny, but they sure pack a punch.
How to use: Try sprinkling shelled seeds on your salad, or use in baked goods such as breads and muffins. You can’t go wrong stirring a handful of these into your yogurt for a crunchy delight.
Make it kid-friendly: Add it into granola, or sprinkle on top of their favorite cake or cookies. Make a sweet treat such as sunflower brittle. You can also buy sunbutter or try your hand at making it homemade. Enjoy delicious sunbutter toast or sunbutter and jelly sandwiches.
Popeye was definitely onto something. This superfood is full of vitamins K, A, C, and B. It also contains folate, potassium, and calcium.
Eating spinach can fend off heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. High in antioxidants, it supports brain health and helps manage blood pressure. Is there anything spinach can’t do?
How to use: Spinach is quite possibly the most versatile leafy green out there. Enjoy a spinach salad, or add a handful into your scrambled egg breakfast.
Make it kid-friendly: Toss spinach in smoothies and turn leftover smoothies into popsicles with easy popsicle molds. Add into soups or chili, the kiddos won’t even notice. Try making a healthy spinach dip and give them all sorts of veggies to dip in.
5. Green Tea
The secret behind green tea is epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). EGCG is a crazy, powerful antioxidant that is constantly fighting on your behalf. It works by reducing free radicals in your body, which in turn is protecting your cells from damage.
Green tea works as an anti-fungal and anti-virus agent. It increases blood flow and protects the brain from aging. And what’s good for your brain is always good for your heart. Studies have found green tea to help with a great deal of heart-related issues.
How to use: You can enjoy this tea by simply buying loose leaf tea and steeping in boiling water, or spice it up a bit by adding ginger and a touch of honey if preferred. Matcha is the powder form and is another great way to enjoy this tea.
Make it kid-friendly: Make iced green tea and sweeten it with honey. Add matcha powder to their favorite smoothies. You can also sprinkle this powder into baked goods, or stir it into vanilla ice cream.
Almonds are the powerhouse of protein. Full of healthy fats and Vitamin E, you don’t want to skimp on these. Just a half-cup serving provides your body with 100% of your recommended intake of Vitamin E.
They’re also rich in antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, and magnesium. These bad boys can also help gut health. They’ve been found to act as a prebiotic, which is food for the good bacteria in your gut – which is then linked to immunity. Almonds are called brain food because of their ability to preserve memory and prevent cognitive decline.
How to use: Enjoy them as a snack by the handful or add them to your favorite salad, yogurt, or granola. Use almond flour as a substitute in baking.
Make it kid-friendly: Sprinkle crushed almonds on ice cream or brownies. Add a dollop of almond butter to smoothies, baked goods, or simply spread on a piece of toast for a quick, healthy breakfast.
7. Bone Broth
There’s a good reason you were treated with a big bowl of chicken noodle soup as a child when you were sick. It’s not just good for the soul, it’s good for your entire body. The broth is where it’s at. It’s loaded with collagen, vitamins, gelatin, and essential amino acids.
Bone broth benefits every single part of your body. From your brain to the muscles in your toes. It’s rich in minerals that support your immune system. It’s also great for your gut and joints, helps to maintain healthy skin, and so much more.
How to use: Make your own using leftover bones and your crockpot, or buy good quality broth from the store. Use in soups, stews, sauces, or as the base for your favorite stuffing recipe. It’s also available in powder form, where the possibilities are endless.
Make it kid-friendly: You can’t go wrong with chicken noodle soup, even when the kiddos aren’t sick. Try whisking it into spaghetti sauce to add a boost of richness.
These powerful purple berries are rich in flavonoids, especially anthocyanins, which are also responsible for giving them their deep purple color. Flavonoids are powerful antioxidant agents that protect your body from everyday toxins and stressors. They’re full of vitamin C, dietary fiber, and antioxidants.
They also contain antiviral agents, which are compounds so strong they are thought to deactivate viruses. Elderberries are known for their ability to shorten the duration and symptoms of colds and flu. This superfood isn’t just for flu season though, eat them year round to boost your immune system, help with allergies, support skin health, and promote healthy digestive function.
How to use: Start adding organic elderberry syrup to your morning routine by taking 1 tsp daily, or enjoy a cup of hot elderberry tea. Make elderberry vinaigrette and drizzle on salads or veggies.
Make it kid-friendly: Drizzle organic elderberry syrup over waffles, pancakes, muffins, brownies, ice cream, and even yogurt. Add a dash into smoothies, lemonade, or sweet tea. Give elderberry gummies a try, just make sure they aren’t loaded with added sugar.
Always remember to mix it up and have fun with your food. Eat the rainbow and know that you’re fueling your body with exactly what it needs!
I hope you enjoyed these tips to boost your immune system year-round! We want to see you happy and loving your health.