It’s my job to keep you nourished. And with that means healthy. With colder weather moving in and flu/cold season here, it’s even more important to Nourish up and get that immune system of yours rockin’. Read—a cough, sneeze+ flu-free season—filled with energy and vibrancy. Yes, it’s possible.
Building a strong, healthy immune system can happen at every meal. How to do that? EASY. Let food be thy medicine. Rather than reaching for over-the-counter remedies, flood your system with whole healing foods. Regardless of the cause of any immune illness, inflammation is the underlying factor in almost all of our symptoms. Organic plants are packed with phytochemicals to ward off disease and inflammation. So harness immune health with these 10 nutrients from whole food. Yes, it is that easy. Only a couple nutrients below you can’t get enough from food alone, so good to supplement. SIDE Note (and I am not bragging, just saying) I have not been sick in almost 10 years—since I starting to drink my Green GoGo Juice regularily.
- Vitamin A:
Where to find it: In animal foods like eggs, fish oil, butter and liver
Why it’s important: Regardless of the cause of any immune illness, inflammation is the underlying factor in almost all of the symptoms: Vitamin A supports healthy tissue membranes (like those in your mouth and nose), and cell membranes to keep them strong, which lessens your vulnerability to infectious organisms. In other words, bring your vitamin A game to fend off the common cold. Other perks? It also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Where to find it: Brightly colored fruits and veggies like papaya, carrots, sweet potato, kale
Why it’s important: Beta-carotene is in the same family as vitamin A and shares its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that promote immunity.
- Vitamin C:
Where to find it: Kiwi, citrus fruit, berries, leafy greens, red peppers
Why it’s important: This vitamin is always the blockbuster for preventing and fighting off a cold. That’s because Vitamin C supports infection-fighting T and B cells, phygocytes (which literally devour harmful bacteria), plus healthy skin and wound healing.
- Vitamin E:
Where to find it: Spinach, nuts, seeds, peanut butter, avocado, almonds, wheat germ
Why it’s important: Like vitamin C, vitamin E supports cell functions and has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
- Vitamin D: SUPPLEMENT
Where to find it: Mushrooms, oily fish, egg yolks, fortified milk and yes a Vitamin D supplement
Why it’s important: Vitamin D may be preventative—protecting you from cancer, cardiovascular disease, dementia, and even the flu. It fights infection by activating T cells, producing antibodies and stunts inflammation. Besides what’s on your plate, your body gets vitamin D from just 15 minutes of sunlight a day. So soak it up sparingly—15 minutes before sunscreen.
- Vitamins B5, B6, and B12: SUPPLEMENT
Where to find them: To get your B5 and B6 vitamins, look to whole grains, nuts and seeds.
For B12: Animal foods like yogurt, liver, beef; if you’re vegetarian, nutritional yeast is the best (and tastiest) form.
Why they’re important: B5 and B6 get your antibodies working against infectious invaders, while B12 helps your body produce infection-fighting B cells and healthy red blood cells.
Where to find it: Root vegetables, oysters, shellfish, seafood, seeds, nuts.
Why it’s important: Zinc is the most ‘immune-essential’ mineral, and a zinc deficiency puts you at risk for infections. Why? It works with vitamin E and selenium as a powerful antioxidant, enhances cell function, and helps your body make more infection-fighting antibodies. (That’s why so many cold meds contain it.) But take note: Excess actually decreases immune function, so don’t supplement.
Where to find it: Lentils, leafy greens like spinach and kale, meats, molasses, raisins.
Why it’s important: Iron helps transport oxygen to all your cells, making it a key ingredient for energy production. An iron deficiency could cause you to feel tired and have frequent infections. Careful with supplements as they may not be absorbed properly or could leave you feeling a bit backed up. NOTE: When eating plant-based, iron rich foods like leafy greens, eat with Vitamin C o that iron is fully absorbed. For example, when loading up on a green salad, choose a salad dressing with citrus or lemon zest.
Where to find it: Brazil nuts, nutritional yeast, brown rice, wheat germ and salmon
Why it’s important: Selenium is a key player when it comes to antioxidant activity. It collaborates with vitamin E to produce the key antioxidant glutathione, which protects your cells from free radicals and supports detoxification. Like zinc and iron, selenium must be in limited doses so finding it in food is the way to go.
Where to find it: Avocado, leafy greens, almonds, brown rice.
Why it’s important: FYI We are ALL Magnesium deficient. And we need it to absorb all the above-mentioned nutrients. So you’re going to be hearing a lot about this buzzy mineral: Magnesium is an anti-inflammatory, plays a role in keeping the immune system strong, helps strengthen muscles and bones, and supports dozens of other functions, from cardiac and brain function to enzyme activity. Consider your avocado toast habit justified.