Spring is finally here, which brings warmer weather, plenty of sunshine, and beautiful flowers blooming. However, it’s still important to keep your immune system strong and healthy by supporting it with nutrient dense, whole foods and supplements. Did you know that many foods, spices, and herbs can boost your immune system and help protect against colds, flus, and viruses?
Garlic, mushrooms, oregano, fermented foods, leafy green vegetables, green tea, citrus fruits, and raw honey are just a few superfoods that can strengthen your immune system to ward off illness.
Garlic and its health benefits have been used for centuries as it has a variety of valuable effects for the immune and cardiovascular system, as well as providing anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-microbial support. Garlic works by modulating the immune system and reducing inflammatory cytokines, which are released by the immune system.
Garlic is a wonderful ingredient to keep in the kitchen to spruce up any dish, spread, or salad dressing. When using garlic in your cooking, it’s best to chop it and let it sit for 10-15 minutes to boost the nutritional properties and its benefits. Garlic is in the sulfur family and letting it rest allows the enzymes to be activated, which are inactivated when heating it immediately after cooking it.
Mushrooms have been studied for years for their immune support benefits including anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and more. Similar to garlic, mushrooms can also modulate cytokine activity increasing production of beneficial T-helper cells.
Not only do mushrooms boost the immune system but they also help reduce inflammation. Even though mushrooms taste delicious raw, cooking them increases the antioxidant activity. With B vitamins, zinc, and selenium, they are great sources of antioxidants and a healthy food to add to your diet.
Fermented foods provide numerous benefits that are loaded with probiotics, which support gut health and immunity. Adding fermented foods like refrigerated sauerkraut or kimchi to your food, once it’s been cooked is a great way to add spice, a salty component (instead of adding salt), and a nutritional punch to your dish. In addition, chopped herbs, including oregano spice up a dish with great flavor, health benefits, and boosts your immune system.
Gut-boosting hearty green salad
This is a great salad for a weeknight dinner or to have for lunch with some of your favorite protein added (fish, beans, tofu, or chicken). With the fermented miso in the dressing, it’s loaded with gut-healthy probiotics to support your immune system and helps establish healthy gut function.
- 4 cups organic mixed greens
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
- 1 cup chopped bell peppers (orange, red, yellow)
- 1 avocado, diced
- 3 tablespoons hemp seeds
- ¼ toasted sunflower seeds
- 1 tablespoon chickpea miso
- 1 tablespoon water
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
First mix together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl with a fork or mixer.
Mix all the salad ingredients together in a large bowl and stir in the dressing. Season with sea salt and black pepper to taste. Enjoy!