This week, I've had a bit of the sniffles and was reminded that... it's coming! That dreaded time of the year -- cold and flu season. Rather than ignoring the issue, let's learn how to prepare and fight back.
Keeping our bodies and immune system functioning at peak levels throughout the year can be difficult. Stress, a poor diet, lack of sleep and constant exposure to everyday germs plays a significant part in health and illness. The importance of nourishing our body with sufficient rest, regular activity, and obtaining a constant supply of nutrients (fresh foods, lean protein, healthy fats, etc.) will ensure that the body can resist most pathogens. Building a healthy foundation can not be understated.
Getting enough sleep is crucial. Even a few nights of interrupted or insufficient sleep can leave the body worn down and susceptible to illness. Eating a balanced diet low in sugar and processed foods, and getting regular exercise can help keep your immunity boosted throughout the year. Regular exercise has also been shown to reduce the number of times a person gets ill per year and the duration. So, if you are going through and doing all these measures and you still want to stay ahead of the game or if you come down with something, there are natural ways to feel better faster.
I've got you covered below with tips on what we can do to get ready, head off, or at least know how to fight back during cold and flu season. I am also sharing the Green Tea Infused Ginger-Spiced Carrot Soup that I made for lunch today. This was a super soothing soup with a healthy dose of ingredients that helped relieve some of my cold symptoms. You have to try it!
Cold + Flu Immunity Tips
Sometimes we need a little help -- especially during cold and flu season. Cold, flu and immune supplements can be beneficial to help achieve and support optimal immune function so that you can ward off, or push through the virus. They can give you a boost and the proverbial "leg up". However, nourishing food and the value of a healthy lifestyle is the ultimate medicine.
Beneficial bacteria/flora can strengthen the body's immune system and ward off infection, not just in the intestines but body-wide. Probiotics have also been found to be of benefit in reducing the odds of catching a cold or flu.
Probiotic foods include kefir, cultured vegetables (sauerkraut and kimchi), kombucha, coconut kefir, natto, yogurt, kvass, raw/unpasteurized cheese.
This is the sunshine vitamin, but also the "antibiotic vitamin". Vitamin D is crucial to optimal immune function. It primes the immune system to fight pathogens, but also puts the brakes on out-of-control immune responses.
Sunlight promotes vitamin D synthesis from cholesterol in the skin. At this time of year (outside of the summer months), particularly in Canada, it is important to supplement with Vitamin D.
Vitamin D is more than a vitamin in that is acts as a pro-hormone and effects hormone balance and immune regulation of the body.
Most foods, unless they are fortified, are poor sources of vitamin D and there are only a small amount of vitamin D rich foods to choose from including cod liver oil, sardines, salmon, mackerel, tuna, caviar, eggs, mushrooms.
Vitamin C increases the production of infection-fighting white blood cells and antibodies and increases levels of interferon, the antibody that coats cell surfaces, preventing the entry of viruses.
Vitamin C tops the list of immune boosters for many reasons. There has been more research about the immune-boosting effects of vitamin C than perhaps any other nutrient. It can be used to help ward off colds and flus and aids the body in fighting infection. Vitamin C has intrinsic antiviral and antibacterial activity. Top foods include oranges, red peppers, kale, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, strawberries, grapefruit, guava, kiwi, green peppers.
This mineral is beneficial for optimal immune function and helps to facilitate healing.
Zinc deficiency predisposes people to infections.
Zinc-rich foods include grass-fed beef, kefir or yogurt, lamb, chickpeas (garbanzo beans), pumpkin seeds, cashews, chicken, mushrooms, spinach.
To lessen severity of illness and support immunity, selenium is essential for the efficient and effective operation of many aspects of the immune system in both animals and humans.
Selenium limits virus replication and ultimately blunts the severity of the viruses effects. Selenium-rich foods include Brazil nuts, yellowfin tuna, cooked haibut, canned sardines, grass-fed beef, boneless turkey, beef liver, chicken, eggs, and spinach.
Finally, don't forget to engage in regular activity, avoid toxins, develop positive relationships, and do things that make you happy! And of course, wash your hands regularly.
If you are interested in learning more about what supplements to choose and which foods can help you maintain healthy immune function, you can always contact me. I'm always more than happy to help you!
In the meantime, try this tasty Green Tea Infused Ginger Spiced Carrot Soup. The trace micronutrients, vitamins, and minerals in the broth are so soothing and comforting are are the perfect antidote. I chose every ingredient for a specific reason based on the beneficial properties.
One of the main featured ingredients in this soup is green tea. Green tea is rich in compounds called polyphenols, catechins and flavonoids, which display antioxidant, antimicrobial, alkalizing and immune-stimulating qualities. Green tea compounds not only help protect tissues from infection and boost immune response to infectious agents, but some also directly kill certain bacteria, viruses and fungi. That doesn’t mean that drinking green tea will protect you from all the viruses that can cause upper respiratory infections, but it could reduce the strength and duration of symptoms, and might be able to directly combat some of the causative agents.
Other featured beneficial ingredients in this soup include:
Turmeric - A natural antiseptic and antibacterial agent, useful in disinfecting cuts and burns. Long known for its anti-inflammatory properties, it can work as well anti-inflammatory drugs, without the side effects. It’s a natural painkiller, cox-2 inhibitor, and natural liver detoxifier. It gives anything it’s cooked with a bright yellow glow. One of my favorite Canadian companies My Spice Box works to source the highest quality, organic spices. All of their spices are certified USDA organic which means no synthetic chemicals, radiation or GMOs. Check them out!
Ginger - Anti-inflammatory, immune boosting, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-microbial. Reduces all symptoms associated with motion sickness including vomiting, dizziness, nausea, and cold sweats.
Coconut oil - The lauric acid in coconut oil can kill bacteria, viruses, and fungi, helping to stave off infections. In addition to helping with the immune system, it’s great for hair, skin, nails, stress relief, cholesterol level maintenance, aids in weight loss by helping digestion and regulating metabolism.
Print and enjoy the recipe below!
- 4 green onions
- 4 slices fresh ginger
- 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
- 3 bags green tea, tags removed
- 1 tbs coconut oil
- 1 medium, onion, finely chopped
- 1.5 lbs carrots, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch thick pieces
- 1 medium, all-purpose potato, peeled and chopped
- 1⁄2 tsp sea salt
- 1⁄4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1⁄4 tsp turmeric, ground
- 1 cup frozen peas
Make it Like So
- Cut off white and pale green parts of green onions and place in 5-quart saucepot.
- Thinly slice remainder of green onions and set aside.
- Add sliced ginger and 5 cups of water to saucepot. Heat to boiling over high heat.
- Remove from heat and add tea bags (tags removed). Cover saucepot and let stand for 10 minutes.
- While tea steeps, in 12-inch skillet, heat the following over medium-high heat: onion, carrots, potato, 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Cook and stir 6 minutes or until golden. Add grated ginger; cook and stir for 1 more minute.
- With a slotted spoon, remove the tea bags and onion pieces from the saucepot and discard.
- Heat liquid to boil over high heat. Stir in carrot mixture and reduce heat to maintain simmer. Cook and stir for 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
- Add 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric and stir.
- Transfer half of soup to blender; keep remaining soup simmering. In blender at low speed, blend soup until very smooth.
- Return pureed portion of soup to saucepot and stir in frozen peas. Cook 3 minutes or until peas are bright green and hot.
- Divide soup among serving bowls and garnish with sliced green onions.