Liana Werner-Gray is the founder and owner of The Earth Diet, author of diet-related books and an advocate for natural healing using a healthy diet and lifestyle. Check out her books: Cancer-Free with Food, Anxiety-Free with Food, The Earth Diet, and 10-Minute Recipes. Connect with her on Facebook or Instagram @lianawernergray.
As the temperatures drop, it is important we focus on foods to keep our immunity strong. With colder temperatures we typically feel run down and see an increase in illnesses. By keeping immunity strong not only do we stay healthy from the seasonal illnesses, we also lower our risk of other long term diseases. With these 9 foods we can keep our immunity boosted and stay healthy year round.
Broccoli sprouts contain the component sulforaphane—basically a sulfur-rich compound. A full-grown head of broccoli does contain sulforaphane, but broccoli sprouts have 10 to 100 times more! On day three or four of growing broccoli, when the sprouts are one to two inches tall, this is when the sulforaphane is highest. According to a report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, just a small one-ounce serving provides 73 milligrams of sulforaphane glucosinolate. Per 100-gram serving, broccoli sprouts offer approximately 250 milligrams. Not only are broccoli sprouts good for immunity, they are also anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective, meaning they offer help with proper brain function.
Isn’t it interesting that when we get a cold or feel our immunity is running low, we often crave oranges? Oranges contain Vitamin C and a lot of other antioxidants, so you definitely want them in your fruit bowl. Not only is Vitamin C an immune booster, it is also helpful in preventing and treating cancer because it is an antioxidant. Thanks to the antioxidant power in oranges, they help to keep immunity boosted and fight off disease in the body.
A powerful way to start your day on the right healthy foot is to drink lemon water as soon as you rise. Lemon water is highly alkalizing and helps to flush your digestive system, especially the stomach and liver. It is also beautifully hydrating and contains Vitamin C as well. Drinking lemon water daily helps to keep the body free of impurities, and leads to boosted immunity.
Ginger is an incredibly powerful anti-inflammatory and assists in reducing pain, cramps, aches, and bloating. By keeping inflammation low in the body, the body becomes inhospitable to disease and illness. It also suppresses appetite, so it can help curb sugar cravings at nighttime, which is helpful as sugar is one of the top immune suppressing foods.
Garlic has many medicinal properties that have benefited people from cultures around the world for centuries. Delicious as well as healthful, garlic’s close relatives include the onion, shallot, leek, and chive. Garlic boosts the functions of the immune system. When you are feeling a cold coming on, incorporate garlic into your daily routine to help fight off illness.
Sunflower seeds are high in antioxidants, iron, and zinc. All of these factors contribute to boosting the immune system. There are multiple ways to incorporate sunflower seeds into your daily diet. You can quickly add them to a salad, eat raw, or with sunflower seed butter. A great alternative to nut butter and full of nutrients to help keep health elevated.
My absolute favorite supplement in the world is chlorophyll-the green pigment in plants—and I wish every human being were consuming it on a daily basis. Chlorophyll is a compound found in dark leafy greens like kale, spinach, collard greens, dandelion greens, and turnip greens, broccoli and broccoli sprouts, and blue-green algae, like chlorella and spirulina. Although I feel that chlorophyll has been understudied, it has been shown to have many health benefits. This is one of the best health hacks we have available to us! A lot of high-performance people have discovered its value already. Chlorophyll reduces inflammation in the body. It has been shown to enhance oxidative stress tolerance, meaning that your body will be able to adapt to stressful conditions more easily. It also contains a lot of healthful antioxidants. The less stress our body carries, the healthier we will be.
Elderberry is a powerful immune system booster because the berries are packed with antioxidants, vitamins and have antiviral properties. Elderberries activate a healthy immune system by increasing inflammatory cytokine production. Cytokine production mediates normal cellular processes in your body. One study suggested that elderberries could have an immunoprotective effect when administered to cancer or AIDS patients, in conjunction with chemotherapy or other treatments.
The history of licorice root can be dated to 2300 BCE. Folk healers thought licorice to be a magic plant that rejuvenated aging people. A sweet flavor can be extracted from the licorice root, one that we may know from the licorice candy or alcoholic beverages like ouzo, which comes from Greece. Licorice root contains glycyrrhizic acid, which causes it to be anti-inflammatory and immune boosting. It is classed as an adaptogen—it helps us cope with stress. It is also used to soothe gastrointestinal problems. You can find licorice root tea or make your own at home to add to your daily routine this winter season.
What are some of your favorite immune-boosting foods? We'd love to hear from you below!