If the last year has taught us anything it’s that health is king. Before getting fit, going to work, or interacting with loved ones, the foundation that makes all of it possible is a healthy, functioning body. One of the best ways at our disposal for protecting the body against infection is by boosting the immune system with the life-sustaining nutrients in food. The main goal for boosting immunity (nutrition) is to:
- reduce/ prevent inflammation and
- up the amount of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) and bacteria to aid in the immune process
In this article I’ll show you 3 simple, sustainable recipes that you can incorporate into your daily routine that will accomplish just that!
What Are Immune-Boosting Foods?
Immune boosting foods are those that support our microbiome (aka our gut). These foods usually encompass many different categories, often containing antioxidants, polyphenols, probiotics, prebiotics, postbiotics, vitamins and minerals.
prebiotics usually come from different carbs (generally fibers) that the human body alone can’t digest. The helpful bacteria in the gut however can break it down. These fibers are usually found in vegetables, fruits, and legumes (artichoke, bananas, berries, garlic, onions, etc.)
probiotics in contrast are live bacteria that are found in food (often fermented) and supplements. This includes foods like kimchi, kraut, miso, tempeh, yogurt, kombucha, sourdough.
postbiotics are essentially the waste-product of the fermentation process that takes place in the gut by probiotics. While this sounds negative postbiotics have numerous beneficial attributes that are important for the proper function of the gut. A few examples include organic acids, bacteriocins, and also make up foods like beans, legumes, whole grains, and sweet potatoes.
Antioxidants/Polyphenols/ Vitamins C:
All citrus fruits, berries, red fruits, broccoli, broccoli sprouts, mushrooms, green tea, dark chocolate, etc.
Products That Cause Inflammation
- glyphosate (herbicide): the World Health Organization (WHO) has labeled glyphosate as a “probable human carcinagen “with long term exposure a possible cause for “kidney and reproductive health problems”. The Detox Project found extremely high levels of glyphosate in numerous processed foods including cheerios, Stacy’s Pita Chips, Doritos Cool Ranch, Back to Nature Crispy Cheddar Crackers, and many others.
- refined carbs: have had most of their fiber removed. Fiber helps in many ways to promote fullness, improve blood sugar control, and nourish bacteria in the gut with healthy nutrients. Research suggest that refined carbs in the modern diet may promote the growth of inflammatory gut bacteria that can increase the risk of obesity and inflammatory bowel disease.
- processed meats: are associated with increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, stomach and colon cancer. Processed meats include sausage, bacon, ham, smoked meats, and beef jerky.
- added sugar (fructose): eating a lot of fructose has been linked to obesity, insulin resistance, diabetes, fatty liver disease, cancer, and chronic kidney cancer
1) Matcha Green Tea Smoothie
Nothing beats a good smoothie. Even if you’re not a huge fan of green leafy vegetables, this provides the best option for quick consumption in a sweet, tropical form. It rarely gets healthier than this; the spinach and kale alone are packed with nutrients, vitamin A, C, K1, folic acid, iron, calcium, antioxidants (quercetin and kaempferol). Matcha (or ground tea leaves) also contain antioxidants, may protect the liver, aid in heart health, and even weight loss.
Without boring you about the other many health benefits, the added banana, coconut milk, pineapple, and lemon add much needed character and flavor to the mix, balancing the perks of health with the aesthetics of taste. This is a recipe that has become a daily staple for me personally, and I’m sure once you try it for yourself you’ll see why.
- 1/2 Banana
- 1 cup of fresh pineapple (frozen)
- 1 cup of spinach or kale (or both)
- 1/2 teaspoon of matcha powder (add more depending on your preference)
- 3/4 cup of coconut milk (optional: soy milk)
- sqeeze of lemon
- 1/2 teaspoon of chia seeds
- optional: 1/2 avocado
- blend all of the ingredients together until they are a smooth consistency
2) Citrus Avocado Salad
This citrus avocado salad is a great meal if you’re looking for a cool, refreshing take on salads with all of the great immune-boosting benefits. Sweet, juicy oranges are fairly easy to find, and combining them with ripe avocado is a great way to start the spring/summer season. If your looking to make the salad more hearty and filling, I suggest adding chicken into the mix, which is also helpful for immune health (vitamin B6).
- 1 cup of spinach (uncooked)
- 1/2 navel orange
- 1 blood orange
- a splash of lemon juice
- salt to taste
- a pinch of chili flakes
- shaved gouda cheese
- place spinach in a large mixing bowl (chop spinach if you prefer)
- cut avocado into bite-sized pieces and place in the mixing bowl
- add optional cilantro
- sprinkle in the salt and chili flakes. drizzle lemon juice and shaved cheese and gently toss
- taste, and adjust for the salt, lemon juice, and chili flakes.
3) Honey Garlic Glazed Salmon
Last but not least we have the honey glazed salmon! This savory item is very easy to make and compliments
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 2 tbsp. lemon juice
- 1 tsp. chili flakes
- 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- (4) 6-oz. salmon fillets
- ground black pepper
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- (optional): 1 lemon, sliced into rounds
- in a medium bowl, mix honey, soy sauce, lemon juice, and red pepper flakes together.
- With a large skillet over a medium flame, heat 2 tbsp. of oil. When the oil heats up, add the salmon skin-side up, and season the fillet with salt and pepper. Let the salmon cook until it’s marbled (around 6 minutes), then flip it over and add the last tablespoon of olive oil.
- Add the cloves of garlic to the skillet and let it cook until fragrant (about 1 minute). From there add the honey glaze and optional sliced lemons and let it cook until the sauce has gone down about a third. Cover the salmon with the sauce.
- Garnish salmon with sliced lemons and serve.
Personally I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all of these recipes, and when incorporating them into my daily routine (specifically the pineapple matcha smoothie) I’ve felt great with no symptoms of illness. If you decide to integrate these into your diet as well I hope these recipes serve your immune system as well as they’ll serve your taste buds!