5 Foods to Boost Your Immune System

Source: Sara Siskind

With the cold winter months here, we find ourselves spending more of our time indoors and hibernating from the harsh weather. This is the time of year people are more susceptible to colds and the flu.  One reason is that viruses tend to live longer in cold air. Also, being indoors leaves us closer in proximity to others where germs can spread more easily from person to person. Since part of our wellbeing depends on how we treat ourselves, now is the time to fuel our bodies with immune boosting vitamins and minerals found in a whole food diet.  Prevention is key! Sara Siskind, Certified Nutritional Health Counselor and founder of Hands on Healthy has come up with 5 of her favorite immune boosting foods has come up with 5 of her favorite immune boosting foods you can add into your diet to help you feel your best all winter long no matter if you’re trapped indoors, traveling, or just in your day-to-day activities. 

1. Eat colorful fruits and vegetables rich in vitamins and minerals. Reach for red and pink grapefruits, oranges, kiwis, and berries. Choose cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts. These fruits and veggies are not only loaded with essential vitamins and phytonutrients, but they are also rich in antioxidants which give your immune system a boot and help build up your digestive track.

2.     Add in pistachios as a heart healthy, protein rich snack. Pistachios are also rich in antioxidants and the heart healthy fats to help your body absorb vitamin E.  Vitamin E is needed by the immune system to fight off invading bacteria. Pistachios are also rich in vitamin B6 which also helps prevent infection and create healthy red blood cells your body needs. Setton Farms Pistachio Chewy Bites are an easy way to eat pistachios on the go or simply adding to your lunch bag.

3.    Look for omega 3 fatty acids and selenium which are found in shellfish, salmon, mackerel, and herring.  These foods help white blood cells produce a protein which helps clear flu viruses out of the body. Omega 3 fatty acids reduce inflammation in the body by clearing the lungs pathways. This can help protect from colds and respiratory infections.

4.     Make yogurt your go-to breakfast or snack. Yogurt contains probiotics; “healthy bacteria” that your body needs to keep your immune system strong and keeps your digestive free of disease-causing germs.  Yogurt is also filled with protein that keeps your body energized and strong.

5.     Spice up your food with turmeric, ginger, and cinnamon.  These spices are especially known to contain antioxidants that help to protect your cells and keep inflammation in the body down.  I add turmeric to soups, eggs, rice, and poultry. Fresh grated ginger brings warmth to any beverage. Cinnamon can be sprinkled on oatmeal, cereal, yogurt, and easily added to anything you bake.

Certified Nutritional Health Counselor, Sara Siskind is the founder of Hands On Healthy, cooking classes for adults, families and teens based in New York. Sara has dedicated her career to educating clients on how food and lifestyle choices affect health, and how to make the right choices to look and feel your best each day. Sara translates unnamed-1the complexity of integrated nutrition into usable tools with easy-to-cook recipes that appeal to the entire family. Sara counsels privately to offer highly customized health and nutrition plans for her clients. She also works with parents on shopping and cooking smarter to create healthier homes. In addition, she teaches beginner to gourmet cooking classes with her signature “toss it in” approach. In addition, Sara regularly works with corporations and non-profit organizations to lead workshops and lectures on healthy eating.

Website: www.sarasiskind.com

Book Review: Eating on the Wild Side

On a recent Saturday afternoon while in Barnes and Noble bookstore I was using my iPhone to take a few pictures of a couple interesting pages from a new nutrition book. As I tried to walk the isles and read (trying to build-up my daily Fitbit steps) I found myself taking more and more pictures of various pages. I finally decided to just buy this great book, Jo Robinson’s Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health (Little Brown & Company, 2013, 407 pages, $16). Come to find out Robinson, who is a health writer, has already been winning book awards with her book that was published in May (as a paperback) and has now reached bestseller status.

photo credit: http://npr.com

I have always been interested in the nutritional value of specific foods, what they typically lose when consumed too soon/late and the phytonutrients that are lost when over-cooked or when the wrong “type” is eaten. Author Robinson hits on these topics and much more in her excellent work. Her heavily referenced book (26 pages worth) goes into detail about the fruits and vegetables we consume. Her book is broken into two sections: chapters 1-9 focus on vegetables while chapters 10-17 focus on fruits.

The author states that if we were to consume more wild species of certain fruits and vegetables we would obtain more phytonutrients, antioxidants and we would not need to take any type of supplements. For example, “one species of wild tomato, has fifteen times more lycopene than the typical supermarket tomato”. Even tomatoes that sit side by side in a typical supermarket can differ dramatically in their nutritional make-up. If you’re interested in finding out what brand of tomato has ten times the amounts of phytonutrients compared to another brand and much more, then you should check out her book and take that walk on the wild side.