3 Final Foods to Boost Immunity - Part 3
Last updated: March 2022
Don’t let your immune system bring your summer fun to a screeching halt. Pool parties. Barbecues. Outdoor sports. Isn’t this what summer is all about? Give your immune system the boost it needs through whole foods nutrition, and let the good times roll.
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Check out these easy and effective ways to keep your immune system soaring all summer long.
If broccoli isn't on the list of your favorite vegetables, it's definitely worth a re-vote! While I'm not a born broccoli lover, I was won over when I caramelized these greens with algae oil or incorporated it into a healthy ranch dressing salad. This cruciferous green is loaded with nutrients such as potassium, vitamin C, zinc, iron, and tons of vitamin B variants.1 Not to mention, it contains tons of an all-star, sulfur-rich compound, called Sulforaphane. This nutrient helps "regulate" your immune system, and even give it an extra push when needed. Animal studies have shown that Sulforaphane can help lessen harmful toxins within the body, including carcinogens.2 Plus, this compound can also ramp up the body's white blood cell count and antibody-producing cells. If that wasn't enough, it also helps increase the cells responsible for destroying pathogens.3 Talk about broccoli being an immune-boosting superhero!
Choose raw instead of cooked! Raw broccoli has ten times more Sulforaphane than when it's cooked!4 But, if raw broccoli is a strong no, opt for a quick steam instead of boiling or microwaving them. Feel free to add some mustard seeds to your broccoli dish to boost its sulforaphane availability.5 Make the most out of your greens!
Ways to incorporate broccoli into summer meals:
- Shredded into a slaw with a tangy vinaigrette
- Grilled on the barbecue to make them extra crispy
- Made into a light broccoli salad with Greek yogurt dressing
Garlic has numerous health benefits that range from improving your heart health to boosting the immune system. It has anti-fungal, antiviral, and anti-parasitic properties, which are due to its rich phytonutrient content. But the benefits don't stop there. Garlic is also a prebiotic, and in animal studies, it shows a positive role in maintaining healthy gut bacteria.6 Given that the microbiome contributes to gut health and your intestines are your largest immune system organ, garlic is another food to include consistently in your diet. Plus, you get the added benefit of lowering your total cholesterol without impacting HDL.7,8 Although whole foods are always preferred over supplements, you can work with a dietitian to find a garlic supplement if you don't like the garlic taste.
Fun and easy ways to enjoy garlic:
- Roasted in the oven alongside your favorite veggies
- Crushed into hummus for a boost of flavor
- Infused with olive oil for a tasty dressing
Apple cider vinegar
The talk of the town! Apple cider vinegar has made its way into many households due to its role in blood sugar control and antibacterial properties. Fun fact, drinking or gargling apple cider vinegar may lessen the spread of certain immune impairing bacteria within the body.9 This makes apple cider vinegar an easy at-home remedy for colds, and sore throats.
Previous research has also shown that adults with insulin resistance may benefit from apple cider vinegar consumption since it can help manage blood sugar levels after a meal. It was found that those who ingested ½ tablespoon diluted with 1 ½ oz of water with a meal experienced an increase in insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control, compared to a placebo group.9 While this was a relatively small study, the consensus of research seemingly supports the use of apple cider vinegar as an additional, yet small tool to help with blood glucose control.
For an immunity boost, consume apple cider vinegar in its pasteurized form, which seemingly has an increased antimicrobial effect.9 But, you may want to consider brushing your teeth after drinking it, to avoid tooth enamel erosion.
Ways to cook with apple cider vinegar:
- Mixed with olive oil and herbs for an easy vinaigrette
- As a marinade for your favorite proteins, along with olive oil, honey, and spices
- As a pickling agent for your DIY pickles, kimchi, or sauerkraut
This summer, eat your way to better immunity! In combination with other healthy habits such as adequate exercise and sleep, you will always be ready for summer fun. In case you missed it, be sure to read our previous articles on boosting immunity.
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