During fall, it seems that right along with all the yummy warming foods and chilly outdoor celebrations come the colds and the flus, without fail. Unfortunately, because our schedules don’t usually shift to accommodate the seasons, sometimes we can feel like we’re taken a bit off-guard when we’re adjusting sleep patterns, driving home from work in the dark, and needing to bundle up every time we go outside.
Nature, however, seems to recognize that during the equinoxes, our bodies change too. When the autumn transition comes around, instead of hiding out until we’ve acclimated to the change, support your body as nature intended by stocking up on the immune-boosting foods that are ripe just in time for the cold season.
The star of every café and market, pumpkin lattes, muffins, pancakes, pies, soups, breads and even biscotti pop up everywhere this time of year. But more than just a festive and tasty seasonal treat, pumpkins are jam-packed with powerful vitamins and nutrients that support our digestive systems and fuel our immunity and vitality.
Pumpkin, with its bright orange pulp, is rich with the powerful antioxidant beta-carotene, which supports skin health and strengthens our mucous membranes against invaders. Beta-carotene is also known for protecting the body against free radicals, and for converting into Vitamin A, which also boosts our immunity. Better still, pumpkin is loaded with vitamin C, and the raw, green pumpkin seeds contain iron, protein, and zinc, all which strengthen your defenses against colds, flu, and stress.
Cranberries are a popular year-round addition in savory dishes and baked goods. With a high vitamin C concentration, they also can be a valuable addition to your autumn immune-support regimen. Add cranberries to pork dishes, oatmeal, and scones for a healthy boost, or drink the juice unsweetened and diluted by water in the morning for a powerfully detoxifying, inflammation-fighting start to your day.
This mighty little bulb of deliciousness has been fighting off the worst of invaders since its earliest documented use in 1500 B.C. Known for its power to clear a room, perhaps more useful than its power to ward off people is its power to also ward off ailments. Loaded with potassium, garlic boosts blood circulation, muscle recovery and cardiovascular health, but garlic’s Sulfuric compounds tackle infections, parasites and bacteria, too. Though super-yummy when roasted on just about anything, if you’re looking to reap the benefits of garlic’s immune superpowers, better eat it raw. Heat processing can weaken the sulfuric compounds, making its efficacy less potent.
People that like mushrooms, often love them. We mushroom-lovers crave their presence in pizzas, soups, chicken and pork-dishes, quiches, and as a great filler for vegetable stuffings of every kind. If you’re one of those people, consider yourself lucky.
Mushrooms are tasty, but they’re also packed with the cold-season immunity superhero, zinc. Zinc is present in all mushrooms, and the amount per mushroom ranges from 2-9% of your daily recommended value, depending on the variety. For an added immune boost, try gently cooking them. As they decrease in size during cooking, more of them will fit into your dishes and ultimately increase your zinc boost per serving.
These flavorful little gems not only transform your dinner table, but they can transform your health, too. They are loaded with potassium, which supports healthy heart function, balances water and salt levels in the body, and promotes critical nerve and muscle function. They are also packed with fiber which aids in reducing inflammation to free up the immune system to focus on all the other daily assaults it encounters – like bacteria and viruses that make us sick.
Sweet potatoes are packed with vitamin B-6, iron, vitamin A, beta-carotene, magnesium, and vitamin C, all which stand up against stress, toxins and diseases that can wear down and derail us, especially during seasonal change.
To pack more sweet potatoes into a day, stock them pre-cooked to heat up with cinnamon in the morning, have them baked and with a salad for lunch, or for an extra immune and metabolic boosting end to the day, roast them up for dinner with other fall vegetables and some fresh rosemary.
During the spring and fall equinoxes, our bodies’ response to the seasonal changes can affect our immune health. When we choose the right types of foods, especially those that are in season, we arm ourselves with key nutrients targeting immune support that can boost our arsenals against stressors to maintain energy and vibrancy, without missing a beat.