5 Foods for a Stronger Immune System
Give your immune system a back-to-school makeover with these five foods.
A certain amount of relief (at least on the parent’s part) comes with the beginning of the school year. Yes, it’s the sweet return of routine and, sadly, the return of sniffles and runny noses. Suddenly, you find yourself reminding your child partially enjoyed lollipops are non-transferrable, cringing every time one of your kid’s classmates coughs into anything but their sleeve, and shaking your head at the ill-advised sharing of sparkly lip gloss. Kids are petri dishes - adorable petri dishes, but petri dishes nonetheless - and when they get together no immune system is safe. That’s why we thought it might be useful to outline a few foods that will fortify your immune system against all the would-be invaders it will face throughout the school year.
You feel a mean case of the sniffles coming on, so you grab the nearest carton of OJ and chug it like a beer at the beach on Spring Break back in college. Does this sound familiar to you? You’re not alone. Most people turn to Vitamin C when they start to feel sick, but the truth is paying attention to your vitamin C intake on a daily basis is key to avoiding illness in the first place. Vitamin C has a knack for increasing the production of white blood cells. A surplus of white blood cells is bad news for an invading virus and very good news for you. Unfortunately, your body isn’t capable of producing vitamin C on its own and it’s not so great at storing it either, so a daily dose is important. But instead of reaching for the OJ give a half of a grapefruit or a glass of lime-infused water a try. These options give you a ton of vitamin C, a fraction of the sugar and all the win!
Good choices: limes, lemons, tangerines, grapefruit, oranges.
Yes, your mom might have been onto something when she served double helpings of this cruciferous vegetable. Broccoli, and its close relatives, does for your immune system what a can of spinach does for Popeye’s forearms. Broccoli comes fully loaded with amino acids, antioxidants and vitamin A, C, and D. Broccoli helps rid your body of toxins, strengthens your skin and stomach lining (your body’s initial lines of defense) and it’s a good source of protein. It really is worth the dinner table stand-off with your 6-year-old. Just remember not over-cook broccoli as it leeches more and more of the good stuff the longer it’s exposed to heat.
Not a broccoli fan? Check out these alternatives: radishes, cabbage, cauliflower, bok choy, broccolini, brussels sprouts.
Okay, so this might not do a ton for your love life, but given the choice between garlic breath and a runny nose questionable breath will probably serve you better - that’s what breath mints are for. Besides, you should thank your lucky stars for garlic’s potent stench. Garlic boasts Sulphur-rich compounds such as allicin known for its anti-inflammatory properties and its ability to stimulate the production of white blood cells. Keeping a body healthy takes an army, so reinforce the troops with a clove of garlic or two, just make sure you have a few sticks of gum at the ready.
If you thought chicken soup was capable of nothing more than the placebo effect, guess again. Nutrient-rich bone broths are not only capable cold-fighters; they can also help guard you against illness. Hidden behind the tough exterior of bones is a wealth of essential minerals, gut-healing proteins and amino acids. Bone broth unlocks all of that goodness into a delicious, easy to consume package. On top of the numerous essentials for a hearty immune system, bone broth helps you stay hydrated and improves the integrity of your skin - your body’s first line of defense. But, with the start of school, it’s probably hard to spare 24 hours to babysit a stock pot. Luckily, Bone & Co. makes a ready-to-use bone broth with all of the healing benefits and flavor of the homemade stuff but with none of the work. That’s right, you can fortify your body and guard against infection by simply opening a package – a package that can be shipped directly to your door, we might add.
With the return of fall comes a return to routine. Yes, even that neglected gym routine. If you’ve been hitting the gym hard after (ahem) some time away, turmeric is your absolute best friend. Over-exertion, even in the name of better health, can leave us open to injury and illness. That’s where this golden-hued spice comes in. Turmeric’s color is a result of high concentrations of curcumin, a chemical that is a natural anti-inflammatory and is known to reduce post-workout muscle damage. Curcumin is also found in ginger root and other members of the Zingiberaceae family, so it’s easy to double-up on this helpful chemical.
Other members of the Zingiberaceae family include galangal and cardamom.
Feel like you’ve got A LOT, albeit tasty, ground to cover? Don’t worry! We have a recipe that encompasses every one of these immune boosting foods below. Think of it as a bigger badder chicken noodle soup; a chicken noodle soup that not only kicks those sniffles to the curb but also keeps them at bay.
Ginger Chicken Soba Noodle Soup
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 yellow onion, diced
2 stalks celery, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 (1-inch) knob ginger, peeled and grated
1 small sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 bunch broccolini
1/2-pound shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and quartered
4 cups Bone &Co.’s chicken bone broth
1 cup water
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 (250 grams) package of soba noodles*
1-2 scallions, thinly sliced
2-3 red chilies, thinly sliced (optional)
*We used King Soba’s Black Rice soba noodles.
- Heat a small amount of olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat.
- Once the oil is hot, add the onion and celery. Sprinkle with salt and sauté until the onion is just translucent.
- Add the garlic and ginger to the onion mixture and continue to cook until fragrant.
- Next, add the sweet potato and mushroom to the Dutch oven and sprinkle with a little more salt. Toss to integrate.
- Place the chicken breast on top of the vegetables and add the bone broth and the water. Allow the liquid to come up to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cover the pot. Leave the chicken to poach for 10 -15 minutes.
- While the chicken is poaching, cook the soba noodles according to the package’s directions. Drain the noodles, rinse well and set aside.
- In the last 5 minutes of the chicken’s cook time. Add the broccolini to the dutch oven and replace the cover.
- Once the chicken is cook, remove the breasts from the soup and tent with foil.
- Stir turmeric into the broth and salt to taste. Leave the soup to simmer for an additional 5 minutes.
- Remove the broccolini stalks from the pot and cut the chicken into thin slices.
- Place a serving of soba noodles in the center of each of four bowl. Pour some soup over the noodles and top with chicken slices and broccolini stalks.
*Garnish the soup with chopped scallions and red chilies, and if you’re feeling bold, some freshly grated garlic.