It doesn’t have to be cold and flu season to seek out ways to build and boost your immunity. What you do today can have a profound effect on your health and wellness and set a solid foundation for many days, weeks, and months to come.
Something I believe is absolutely critical for a strong immune system is a healthy gut. And the key to a healthy gut is a healthy diet, which includes lots of fiber and fiber-rich foods. I’m also a huge advocate for stocking up on gut-friendly, polyphenol-rich, vitamin-full fruits and vegetables.
I have previously shared my recipe for Fire Cider, which is an excellent way to jumpstart your day and encourage germs and viruses to keep their distance. Even if you are adhering to a program that includes intermittent fasting, which I recommend, you can still consume this first thing in the morning. I know I have always said anything outside of water technically breaks a fast, but since the purpose of this meal plan is immunity, this will only help, not hurt, your outcome.
Apple cider vinegar may have antibacterial properties, and minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium may help kill dangerous gut bacteria and reset your metabolism. I personally believe concoctions like Fire Cider provide anti-inflammatory and antibacterial compounds. Its acidic nature actually assists in balancing the PH levels of the body and helps maintain your electrolytes.
I also love including a good bone broth in my healthy diet. It doesn’t necessarily have to be homemade, as there are plenty of reputable brands popping up even in your local grocery store. Swanson’s even makes their own in a microwavable cup for anyone on-the-go. Bone broth contains collagen, amino acids, and minerals, all of which play a substantial role in soothing an angry gut and boosting immunity, as well as alleviating joint pain and brightening your complexion.
There is certainly something to be said for including immunity-boosting spices in your meal plan. They not only add tons of flavor to your meal, but they are also adding another layer of protection—a bubble of protection if you will.
Coach C’s Top Immunity-Boosting Spices
Ginger: Ginger has been used as a supplement in traditional medicine for centuries. This super spice has been said to help with everything from nausea and vomiting to colds and arthritis. This root is prized for its potential health-boosting benefits, and studies show it may also have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which can help your body battle bacteria.
Cinnamon: Cinnamon boasts many anti-inflammatory benefits and contains a number of antioxidants. Research suggests that it has antibacterial properties, which may boost your immune system.
Garlic: Garlic may do more than keep the vampires away. Studies suggest that garlic may help reduce the severity of cold and flu symptoms and may also stimulate the immune system, helping it produce more of the cells that fight off infection or invading viruses and bacteria.
Turmeric: The curcumin present in turmeric provides many benefits for health in the form of polyphenols. It is a strong antioxidant and may provide anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and anti-fungal properties.
Pepper: This doesn’t just include spicy peppers like cayenne. Black pepper contains peperine which is a bioactive compound that is an alkaloid similar to capsaicin. Peperine is helpful in increasing the activity of digestive enzymes in the intestine. The anti-inflammatory properties may help reduce inflammation of the gut and sooth digestion.
Lemon: I know, I know—this is not a spice, but the way I use it in my cooking, it is more of a spice than a citrus fruit. Lemon has antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. It is also an important source of polyphenols and vitamin C. The vitamin C in lemon is good for the skin and may help shorten the duration of a cold. Add a squeeze of lemon to your water or tea to reap the benefits.
Something else that plays a crucial role in your immune health is staying hydrated. No matter which system of your body, water is needed for it to function at its best. Drinking plenty of water flushes toxins away and ensures your cells get all of the oxygen they need to function as they were meant to. The added bonus is that if you are drinking water, you are likely not consuming sugary beverages or *gasp* alcohol, both of which attack the respiratory system and weaken immunity. When your immune system is compromised, this can often lead to more disease and infections.
Now that we have the basics laid out, what would an immunity-boosting meal plan consist of?
1-Day Immunity Boosting Diet
Immunity Breakfast Options
For starters, your first “meal” should include a solid protein source combined with fiber. I would highly recommend a protein shake such as our Low Carb, which comes in seven delicious flavors. Then I’d add spinach, banana, almond milk, and chia seeds for good measure. That is a well-balanced meal and will keep your hunger, energy, and cravings in check until your next meal.
If you are looking for more of a breakfast feel, you can easily whip up an omelet, scramble, or frittata. Combine eggs (the yolks are where it’s at), spinach, onions, mushrooms and let’s not forget colorful bell peppers. Mushrooms are jam-packed with healing antioxidants and anti-inflammatory components that help destroy infections, slow aging, and regenerate nerve cells. All peppers are rich in vitamins A, C, and K, but red peppers are bursting with them.
Antioxidant vitamins like A and C help prevent cell damage and diseases related to aging, and they support immune function. And as mentioned, eggs (particularly the yolks), contain zinc and selenium, which are important minerals that help boost the immune system.
Immunity-Boosting Lunch & Dinner
You can’t go wrong with chicken noodle soup, amiright? Or maybe you are in the mood for a more grown up chicken soup? Or maybe you are looking for ways to combine some of my favorite immunity-boosting spices and would enjoy a nice chicken curry?
Using some of the aforementioned spices, you can easily whip up an immunity-boosting blend for any protein, including fish, beef, pork, or chicken. And load up on sides such as broccoli, cauliflower, and leafy greens. Avoid processed carbohydrates and starches. If you are looking for a good carbohydrate, sweet potatoes are an amazing choice. Sweet potatoes contain vitamin A, which helps keep the skin healthy. And healthy skin can be one way of helping fight off infection. Sweet potatoes are also a good source of carotenoids, which also help your immune system battle disease and infection.
If you want to boost your immune system, fish is a very good choice. Fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, and herring have the heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids in them, which are so good for the body. These fatty acids act as an anti-inflammatory and may boost the immunity of the body too.
The bottom line is that consuming a healthy diet, getting plenty of the essential vitamins and minerals, engaging in proper sleep hygiene, and managing your stress are all key elements to boosting your immunity.
Exercise is ALSO Key to Immunity
When it comes to exercise, though, less may be more. Exercise strongly impacts the immune system, but too much exercise can be too stressful. That is, exercising too much can be just as bad as not exercising at all when it comes to immunity.
You see, your body interprets long periods of exercise as stress. Who knew? And when stress occurs, it raises the levels of norepinephrine and cortisol (the stress hormones), which end up suppressing the immune system. These hormones decrease the numbers of immune cells (including white blood cells) after the workout. Completely the opposite of what we want to occur.
For otherwise healthy individuals, I recommend listening to your body. If you are hitting your 10,000 steps each day and including some light to moderate strength training, you can work out long enough to boost your immune system, but not so long that you suppress it.
For more information on how you can boost your immune system, drop a comment below, and I will drop some more knowledge on the topic. Stay healthy, my friends!