When everyone else is catching colds around you, winter is the season for keeping your immune system strong. Luckily, nature has the perfect plan for your health, providing exactly the foods you need for strengthening your immunity and keeping the cold at bay. Read on to find the top 5 winter foods that will give your immune system a healthy boost.
Under normal conditions, the human immune system is called on to combat an invader only when it's needed. But with our fast and ever-changing modern lifestyle, people seldom take care of themselves, and the result is an overburdened immune system incapable of defending you from illness. Your diet is the key to your health: A poor diet of sugary, rich, hard-to-digest foods will detract from your immunity while a healthy diet full of fresh, antioxidant-rich foods will enhance your health and immune system. It's that simple.
1. Cruciferous veggies crank up your immunity
Cruciferous vegetables get their name from their four-petaled flowers, which resemble a crucifer, or cross. Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, cauliflower, kale, and mustard are all cruciferous vegetables that can increase your body's ability to fight infection and cancer, with their potent source of beta-carotene, vitamins C and E, folate, and calcium.
Broccoli provides the highest concentration of disease-busting carotenoids. These carotenoids break down in the body to form vitamin A, which helps the proteins that regulate cell-to-cell communication, the foundation of the immune system. Studies have suggested that vitamin A may help keep the respiratory system healthy, which is especially helpful when you have a cold or the flu. So bring on the broccoli for its immune-enhancing benefits!
It is best to eat these veggies raw, lightly steamed, or gently stir-fried to retain their health-giving properties.
2. Orange vegetables for a beta-carotene boost
Orange-colored vegetables, including carrots, winter squash, pumpkins, and sweet potatoes, are an excellent source of Vitamin C, a famous immune support. These vegetables also contain beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant that keeps your immune system strong and healthy. Beta-carotene also benefits your vision, combats cancer, and staves of heart disease. Get the highest dose of beta-carotene from butternut squash, sweet potatoes, and yams.
3. Mushrooms for an immune zoom
In Asia, mushrooms are favored for their earthy flavor and their therapeutic properties. There are over 100,000 varieties of mushrooms in existence, about 700 of which are edible. Mushrooms help amp up your immune response by boosting the production of white blood cells; this benefits the cells by increasing cellular metabolism, removing toxins, and preventing damage from free radicals. Your best choice for mushroom varieties are shitake, maitake, and reishi-all of which contain polysaccharides, sterols, coumarin, vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that increase your immune function.
4. Whole grains for whole health
Whole wheat, oats, quinoa, amaranth, and brown rice improve your immunity, reduce inflammation, and protect you from the risk of heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. Treat yourself and your immune system to three servings a day.
5. Spice up your health
Onions, garlic, leeks, and chives perk up the immune system with their boisterous flavor and their rich sources of Vitamin C, potassium, chromium and selenium. Additionally, they contain volatile oils that are antimicrobial and help stimulate immunity. These vegetables guard you from the diseases like diabetes, arthritis, heart diseases and certain forms of cancer.
Other potent herbs and spices that support your immune system include ginger, cilantro, rosemary, sage, turmeric, and oregano. If your immune system has been compromised and you are catching a cold or flu, I recommend our Cold and Flu Formula, which contains natural herbs that support healthy immune function and comfort cold and flu symptoms. Click here for more information.
Putting it All Together
Cook up an immune broth consisting of shitake mushroom (soaked first if using dried), any kind of seaweed, cabbage, any type of squash, carrot, ginger, oregano, and onion in chicken stock. Eat at least one large bowl each day and watch your health and immunity increase!
I hope this blog brings you an immunity boost! I invite you to visit often and share your own personal health and longevity tips with me.
May you live long, live strong, and live happy!
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