Winter got your immune system down? Don’t fret, with a few simple dietary tricks, we can get you what you need to fight off those harmful bugs. During this time of year, it is a good idea to check your vitamin D. An easy way to increase your vitamin D from food include whole eggs, orange juice fortified with vitamin D, milk containing fat only, or fish. A deficiency not only increases your risk for getting sick, but vitamin D helps boost the immune system to fight off the virus sooner!
Don’t forget your vitamin C! This is usually the first one people think of, and for good reason. Vitamin C is another contributor to the immune system by reducing inflammation. Sources to consume vitamin C can be found in raw red peppers, strawberries, oranges, and other citrus fruits. Please note, if you are a smoker, your need for vitamin C is much higher year round. Aim for 125mg/day for male smokers and 110mg/day for female smokers.
One more immune boosting mineral is zinc. Although supplementing with zinc when you have an optimal amount of zinc is useless, supplementing when you are low or deficient is extremely immune boosting. Try wheat germ and nuts in you morning oats for a high zinc power food! Aim for 15mg of zinc through food.
Other foods to consider when you are feeling ill include fermented foods. Fermented foods are high in probiotics. These probiotics naturally occur in our guts to not only help us break down food, but fight off invaders well by competing for their environment. Only the strongest survive, so send in the troops with foods that offer more good guys! These include yogurt, both dairy and non-dairy types, kefir (also available in coconut milk for my dairy free friends), tempeh, sauerkraut. And who doesn’t love hot soup when you’re sick? Try Miso soup! Miso is a fermented soy product providing amazing flavor to your soup.
Check out this simple, classic Miso soup recipe…
You will need:
8 cups of water
3-4 wakame sticks, either pre-soaked and cut into small pieces or broken when dried
4 green onions, sliced thin
1 package (12oz) firm tofu, organic, diced
1/4 cup miso paste
In a large pot, heat the water and add all of the ingredients, except for the Miso. Allow the water to lightly bubble then reduce heat or turn off.
In a separate bowl, mix in the miso paste with about a half to one cup of water to dissolve the miso. Remove your soup pot from the heat and slowly add the miso mixture to your soup.
*Careful when reheating not to kill off those helpful probiotics. Avoid using the microwave. You can also add the miso to your individual portion to avoid cooking off the probiotics.