Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Immune System and Diet

About 80% of our immune system is lodged within our digestive track. Our gastric health and the foods we choose comprise, among other things, our natural defense against disease.

We customarily think of our diet as a weight loss tool. But it is far more than that, it’s our health shield. And we should help it along with eating foods that guard our immune system. In the winter, when there is high exposure to cold, flu germs, and viruses, we have to arm ourselves with basics in wellness - fresh garlic, mint, ginger root, oranges and lemons. All these foods have high germ-fighting properties, are easily integrated into cooking, and make food delicious. They can also be combined on their own, with boiling water and drunk as an excellent home remedy for wintry congestions.

Here is a good tip:
Boil some ginger root. Pour into cup, add honey, mint leaf and fresh lemon. Drink up while hot/warm. If possible, follow up with hot shower and sleep/rest. You should feel 100% better when you wake up!

During cold and flu season we should try to eat more berries. Dark berries (blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, currant, etc except strawberries. Dark, small berries are rich sources of antioxidants which are in turn terrific for enhancing our immune system. Even if we only get them as preserves, they still help a little. But fresh is always best.

Another excellent food to support our immune system is yogurt. Yogurt is a perfect food - pleasant on taste buds, light on calories, high in protein and calcium, low in carbs, great for digestion, possesses super-diverse mix potential (fruit, cereal, nuts, chocolate, etc). And with all that, it is spectacularly healthy, with its acidophilus and pro-biotic cultures.

I like to make a yogurt smoothie:

For 16 oz. glass: Pour 10 oz of kefir (Russian yogurt) into blender, combine with a small bowl of fresh, cut strawberries, 3 tbsp. of honey, dash of cinnamon. Add a few cubes of ice. Blend and drink up to your health.

There are other foods we can find in mother nature to help our immune system. For example, you can stock up on leafy greens in your cooking and salads, tomatoes and onion help too (fresh are best). Iron is great against colds. The main staples of the season are - garlic, mint, ginger, yogurt and the citruses are easy to find, very inexpensive and make a wonderful addition to your existing diet as cooking ingredients. So enjoy and stay well!