When the seasons change, we rely on our immune system to ward off colds, flu, infection and overall feeling “under the weather.” Our immunity is one of our greatest strengths and our primary defense against a long list of environmental insults, including pesky germs. Research on how to boost immunity is everywhere and there’s as much fiction as fact to be found on the internet. Let’s break down some science and show simple ways you can support your immunity this season, including where juicing fits in.
Drink Juice Daily
Eating and drinking a rainbow of fresh fruits, vegetables and other plant-based foods is one of the best ways to fuel your defenses. While this sounds simple, the day to day execution is where things can get tricky. Having a fresh juice each day, especially as a replacement for sugar-laden, calorie-dense and nutrient-deplete morning beverages may turn out to be an ideal way to fuel your immune system. Often, you can pass on the medicine cabinet for what we like to call, farmacy fixes for common ailments.
Beyond basic plant-based foods, let’s look deeper at natural ways to fight a cold and some specific nutrients your immune system will thank you for consuming.
Increase Vitamin C
This super-star antioxidant is one of the best known defenders of a healthy body. Vitamin C plays a key role in supporting not only our immune cells but also our skin integrity. Skin is our largest organ and another way we help ward off unwanted infection. Beyond oranges, here are some surprising C-rich fruits and veggies:
- Kiwi fruit has more than twice the Vitamin C of an orange. Try this Kool Kiwi Juice.
- Cauliflower tastes light and refreshing in juice and is loaded with this antioxidant. Try this Cruciferous Carrot Juice.
- Cranberries are tart and in season this fall. Try this Cranberry Citrus Juice, which is like all your favorite Thanksgiving-veggies in your glass.
- Grapefruit is refreshing in fresh juice. Try this Immune Boosting Anti-Inflammatory Grapefruit Juice.
Bacteria Is Your Friend
While we’re talking about warding off bugs, it’s important to keep in mind that some bacteria are not only good for us, but essential for a healthy immune system and vibrant skin. Your microbiome, or healthy gut bacteria, is being shown to play a vital role in supporting overall health and immunity, as well as appetite regulation, weight management and much more.
- Keep these gems in balance with resistant starch-based foods, fermented foods, like trendy but healthy Kombucha, or probiotic-based foods like Kefir.
Wonder if taking a probiotic supplement is right for you? Check with your doctor and dietitian.
- Add some Kombucha to your juice routine for a probiotic boost.
This group of phytonutrient-based antioxidants are credited with immune support, healthy vision and reducing the risk for certain cancers. We often think of the orange glow in carrots from beta-carotene, but others in this family like alpha-carotene, lycopene (red), lutein and zeaxanthin are equally as valuable in our glass for helping strengthen our immune defenses.
Try these Carotenoid-Packed Juices:
- Classic Carrot Apple Ginger Juice
- Fall favorite Harvest Cinnamon Spice Juice
- Thyroid-Friendly Mediterranean-Inspired Juice
Eat Ellagic Acid
This is found in many red fruits and veggies, like raspberries, cherries, pomegranate and strawberries, and it’s also abundant in walnuts. Ellagic acid is being studied for how it can help fight cancer as part of an active lifestyle and well balanced diet. Ellagic-acid rich foods may also help to reduce inflammation and risk for heart disease and diabetes.
Try this Holly Jolly Juice for an immune-whopping punch!
Go for the Ginger
Ginger-based compounds are being studied for their ability to help fight against multiple-drug resistant pathogens, upper respiratory and gut infections, reduce inflammation associated with asthma and exert various immune enhancing actions. Ginger is a common and delicious juice ingredient! Enjoy these examples or add ginger to your favorite juice. Remember, a little goes a long way so start with a small piece and add more as desired. No need to peel before juicing either.
- Ginger and other Healthy Juice Shots.
- Cranberry Apple Ginger Juice for a fall elixir
- Pear Lemon Ginger Juice
- Green Carrot Ginger Juice
Here are some non-juice recipes for helping support your immune system this season. Many are easy to batch cook to help keep you on track when life gets busy.
Beyond diet and nutrition, other wellness behaviors are just as important to prioritize for a healthy immune system.
- Sleep is top tier! During sleep immune repair and rebuilding is at its highest. Aim for at least 7-9 hours per night for adults.
- Move more. Walking is one of the best exercises to fuel your immunity. Too much exercise, or overtraining, can actually be immune-suppressive, the opposite of your goals. Rather than think that more is always better, be gentle on days you need to be, and go for physical activity or movement rather than intense exercise.
- Manage Stress. Sure, easier said than done in today’s multitasking culture, but out of control stress can undermine all of your best diet and exercise efforts at a healthy immune system. Learn specific, simple strategies to help reduce daily stress.