The winter is the time when most of us are concerned about catching the flu, or the cold virus from a family member or friend, or getting something from one of our kids. We are all inside, sneezing and having more contact than perhaps usual. The best strategy for preventing illness during cold and flu season is to help you build a strong immune system. This is by far the best prevention AND protection. Remember, only about 10% of the illnesses you see around this winter are actually from the “flu” and so you need to protect yourself from everything else, too, regardless of whether or not you choose to get a flu shot.
Here are my Tips for Boosting Your Immunity.
First, it is imperative that you work on your immune foundation – and not just during flu season. This should be your strategy all year round because a strong immune system is fundamental for staying healthy in general.
Three Parts to a Healthy Immune Foundation:
- Good gut health, meaning lots of beneficial bacteria.
Take a probiotic every day with at least 20 billion cfu of mixed strains lactobacillus and bifidus species. If you are taking antacids, stop because this alters your gut flora in a negative way.2
2. Balanced stress hormones.
Beware of toxic emotions! They can cause a stress response in the body that can harm your ability fight viruses. Practice ways of reducing stress: journaling, meditation, yoga, message, any form of exercise.
3. Eat foods that are good for your immune system.
This means avoiding processed foods and focusing on fruits and vegetables that are rich in antioxidants and vitamins. Support the removal of toxins by eating lots of cruciferous vegetables, which boost the detox system in your liver.
Antioxidants are plant or phyto-chemicals that protect our cells and tissues form damage caused by electrically charged molecules, a.k.a. free radicals. Cell and DNA damage is at the root of most diseases, including: autoimmune disease, cancer, and chronic inflammation. Antioxidants act like natural sponges, mopping up these free radicals to protect our cells and DNA from damage. This is why it is so vitally important to get as many antioxidants into our body as you can.
Antioxidants can be found in fruits and vegetables as well as herbs. So, be sure to eat your garnish-it doesn’t just make your plate look pretty, it can help keep those free radicals at bay! Now that farmer’s markets are commonplace, you can have an amazing array of fresh, local and nutrient-packed choices. Many local farmers offer produce well into, and throughout the winter. So, ditch the processed stuff and opt for foods bursting with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that keep the inflammation in your body low, and your immune system strong. It’s as easy as:
- Eating fruit as part of a breakfast smoothie, as dessert, or for a quick portable snack.
- Having at least one raw green salad a day, either as a side dish or as a main course adding healthy protein and good fats.
Mushrooms are one of the best immune-boosting foods. Here’s a delicious vegetarian dish loaded with this super ingredient.
Pan Seared Tempeh with Mushroom Ragout
|Tempeh is an incredibly textured, full-flavored, easy-to-prepare, center-of-the-plate option, with superb nutritional credentials. It’s high in protein and lower in saturated fat than its animal protein counterparts. Adding mushrooms to the dish provides phytonutrients that are incredibly healing for your immune system and an earthy, meaty flavor with lots of yum! Servings: 4Serving Size: 2 oz with ½ cup sauce|
8 oz. pack of tempeh, cut in half
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup rice flour
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled, minced
In a large sauté pan on medium high heat, add the tempeh and water. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the tempeh and cool.
When cool enough to touch, cut the tempeh diagonally on the bias into ¼ inch thick slices. Lightly coat tempeh in rice flour before you sauté. In the same sauté pan heat the 2 tbsp of olive oil on medium high heat and then add the tempeh slices, cooking them a few minutes on each side so they become golden brown. Remove from the pan and set aside.
In another pan, add the remaining olive oil on medium high heat. Add the onions and mushrooms and cook until mushrooms are softened and onions are just translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and thyme leaves and stir to combine, cooking another minute. Add the white wine and stir mushrooms to loosen any browned bits. Add lemon and broth or water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and whisk in arrowroot so the sauce thickens. Add salt and pepper and fresh parsley and stir to combine.
Plate the pan-seared tempeh and pour the mushroom ragout over the top. Serve and enjoy!