By Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, CSO, LDN; Reboot Nutritionist
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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
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!
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.
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.