Cold and flu season is here, and though you may be consuming herbs and vitamins to help ward off the seasonal discomfort, eating healthy plays a big role in supporting your immune system! Our family medical practice is committed to keeping you healthy this season, so read below for foods that help support your immune system!
Foods that support your immune system
If you ask anyone for health and wellness advice, they’ll usually give you their “cure all” for the common cold or flu. Some people swear by copious amounts of vitamin C, while others will suggest sweating it out in a sauna. Sometimes it’s the little things that can help you out greatly, and this is the case with a healthy diet. When you choose foods high in antioxidants, it can help kick your immune system into gear and boost its protective powers!
As we are ending a season full of delicious treats, now more than ever is the time to ramp up your immunity! Have you ever heard of the concept of competitive inhibition? Once we explain it, you may think twice about your sugar consumption!
If you look at the compounds of sugar (glucose) and vitamin C, they greatly resemble each other. When you consume a good deal of sugar — holiday treats — while your body is simultaneously trying fighting a cold or the flu, your body will actually choose sugar over vitamin C. When you begin to fight off something, white blood cells are deployed to rid the body of the invaders. Insulin will work to transport vitamin C to the affected cells. If the balance is tipped and there is more sugar than vitamin C in the body, insulin will allow sugar into the cell and your immune defense is halted. So, to balance things out, you’ll either want to take additional vitamin C or less sugar. This is a game changer!
Now that you understand how sugar affects your immune health, let’s look at foods that will help support it!
- Garlic – This superfood contains a compound called allicin that supports the immune system in fighting infection and bacteria. The optimal way to consume garlic for immune health is to crush it, let it sit for 15 minutes, and then eat it!
- Mushrooms – Mushrooms provide a myriad of support to the body, but reishi, shiitake, and maitake give the most immune support. Always cook your mushrooms — as raw mushrooms contain a small amount of toxins and heating them destroys this, in addition to releasing their medicinal properties.
- Fermented foods – Consuming sauerkraut, yogurt, and kefir keeps your microbiome in check, as new research is finding good immunity starts with good gut health. Keep the good bacteria balanced with these foods.
- Vegetables – This is a no-brainer, but pack your plate with color! Roast or saute carrots, beets, broccoli, and bell peppers for food based vitamins such as C, A, and E. Consuming colorful veggies packed with vitamins and antioxidants help boost and protect your immune system.
Huneycutt Family Medicine
Here at Huneycutt, we encourage preventative medicine, especially in the from of a healthy diet. Eat well this winter! Please call us with any questions or concerns!