A Food First Approach to Building Immunity
Food as medicine is a core component of functional medicine. This food first philosophy focuses on using whole foods to nourish your body and provide it with essential nutrients. Functional medicine practitioners look to food habits and identify adjustments to optimize an individual’s health strategy.
It is easy to incorporate healing foods into your diet to supercharge your immune system. In addition to the five well-known superfoods that are known to boost your immunity, give the following a place at your table:
Peppers are plentiful, and what's more, they don't need to be spicy for you to get all that vitamin C. Choose organic red bell peppers to cut up and dip into hummus or use them to make fajitas.
Serve up some citrus for a sweet treat. Be adventurous and include more than just oranges and grapefruits. Squeeze lemons and limes into your morning green drink, water and tea or use them to make homemade vinaigrettes for an extra boost. Mangos are also part of the citrus family. Try mangoes sprinkled with toasted coconut for dessert to get an extra boost and a delicious, guilt-free dessert.
Blueberries have long been applauded for their superfruit status. They have a type of antioxidant known as flavonoids that can help keep your immune system strong, preventing damage to your cells. Add them to smoothies, yogurt or oatmeal in the morning, toss them onto salads, or simply just snack on them when the mood strikes.
Switch up that coffee and hot cocoa for green tea. It has catechin, a potent antioxidant that is good for the immune system. Want it sweeter? Add a drizzle of raw organic honey or use it as a base for your smoothies.
If you like mushrooms, you're in luck. They come in all shapes and sizes. Mushrooms are full of vitamin D, something your immune system needs to stay healthy. Branch out and choose shiitake or reishi. Even better, be sure to sample local, foraged mushrooms at the peak of their freshness. Add them to your omelets, salads, soups and sauces -- the limits are endless.
One way to fill up healthfully and keep your immunity thriving is to load up on cruciferous vegetables. They have vitamins A, C, and E plus an abundance of fiber. Make a cabbage soup for a hearty and healthy meal or serve up some broccoli, cauliflower, or brussels sprouts as a side dish. Kale and bok choy are also a part of this family of immunity-boosting vegetables.
Bone broth is a nutrient-rich goldmine, providing minerals, amino acids and collagen. It possesses many health supporting benefits including, bone and joint health, gut health, cardiovascular health, brain health, and the list goes on. But its superfood status comes from its ability to help heal the intestinal lining which can have a profound effect on your immunity.
Some people do not like the jelly consistency. Rest assured that consistency is the result of the collagen and gelatin. It is all good and will liquify when heated.
Bone broth is a great way to boost the nutritional value of soups, stews and sauces. This is especially helpful when dealing with fussy eaters.
The following recipe dates back to when my grandmother was young. This is tried and true. Choose clean ingredients. Only use organic vegetables and grass-fed meat. It’s important to know the source of your meat.
This recipe is also featured in my book Mastering the Health Continuum: 8 Daily Practices to Boost Energy, Optimize Health and Age Gracefully. Enjoy!
2 pounds beef femur bones
1 pound ox tails
1 fennel bulb
4 garlic cloves
4 celery stalks
Bunch Italian parsley
2 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar
Drizzle olive oil over bones and roast in oven at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Add everything to a slow cooker and cover with water. I run two 10-hour cooking cycles. Strain out solids.
Enjoy a warm cup of bone broth periodically to help support your gut health. Add to soups in place of stock. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
As an alternative you can use leftover poultry carcasses, generally 2 chicken or 1 turkey.