Eat This: Immunity 2.0

A listener’s question came in via email from Janice and asked “I’m hearing of colds going around. Can you help tell me what to stock my fridge with, that’ll help my family stay well?” 

What do you think about that, Chris? I say, let’s help her out shall we? 

Colds and flu season is around the corner and now, more than ever it’s important to be as proactive as possible in boosting our immunity to keep ourselves healthy! Colds and flus have been around for centuries and despite all the measures to keep getting any kind of cold or flu, there’s still stuff flying around. If you work in an office like I do, then hearing someone sneeze or blow their nose from being stuffed up, leads to jumping to conclusions. Someone in my office has hayfever in November, and she’s totally stuffed up! Not all sickness leads to the same conclusion, and now that we are relaxing restrictions where I am, I’m hearing more and more from my clients whose kids are in dayare, to office going clients, that more of the usual run-of-the-mill colds are flying around. 

So thank you, Janice, for your question because there are simple, healthy steps that can keep us going strong this winter. I know some people head to the pharmacy and grab the cold and flu meds, and not look in the grocery aisle to help support the immune system. 

I love the angle of prevention, because while it’s not so sexy to avoid the sweet treats in the vain of being proactive about your immunity, while you and your family breeze through the season, you’ll thank yourself. How would it be to feel better about eating all the good foods and reap the benefits of more energy, clearer skin, better sleep and more. While those benefits feel and look good, the immune system is the backbone of our health.

In case it’s been a while since you were in a biology class and need a refresher about your immune system, it’s the army that’s on alert at the first sign of any foreign invader; bacteria, virus, or parasite.  In order for the immune system to work properly and cohesively,  it needs the right nutrients. Nutrients—including vitamins A, C, and E; all the B vitamins, including vitamin B12 and folic acid; and the minerals zinc and copper—allow the immune system to function by producing lymphocytes as needed, increasing NK cell activity, and producing antibodies. Inadequate nutrition would be like sending troops to war while on a hunger strike! 

Here’s a rundown of what you can do to help support you and your family:

  1. Nourishment can come from broth and soup. The maker of Cold-FX tried to encapsulate chicken noodle soup because of it’s immune supportive properties, and how it can help dissipate or digest mucus. Amazing, right? Clear broth; ideally homemade, is incredibly supportive to gut health, as well as offering protein, hydration, minerals and fat to keep you going while you don’t have much appetite. 
  2. Eating probiotic rich foods is a great way to support your immunity. About 80% of your immunity resides in your gut, and the more beneficial bacteria that lives in your gut, the more you’re supporting your immunity. Fermented foods like plain local Ontario yogurt is a great pre and probiotic rich food that can be included in your diet, and offer the beneficial bacteria that your gut loves. Also add to your list; miso, kimchi, and kefir. Taking supplements is also part of my recommendation. Try out my Immune Boost package, that Janice also asked about, but I kept it to the main question. 
  3. Vitamin D must be on your radar and a part of your daily routine. Did you know Vitamin D helps our bodies’ combat infection and can help to prevent the development of auto-immune disease? The studies that have come out about the importance of vitamin D are really mind blowing. Our body uses calcium, best buddy to vit D, to signal the release of white blood cells to fight disease and inflammation. That’s just one thing that it does. So how are you going to keep up with vitamin D? Know that here in Canada, from October to April, the sun isn’t strong enough for our bodies to rely on it as a source of enough vit D.  Foods to stock up on that are good for D include dairy, and so you know where to start, milk as a source of Vitamin D provides 13% of our daily Vitamin D needs, so then look to other food sources like Vitamin D fortified yogurt or cheese, and mushrooms.  

In episode 63 we talked with Ontario Dairy Farmer, John Van Dyke from his farm Spectrum Acres near Stratford, Ontario. From there I learned more about the importance of choosing local dairy, so I look for the little blue cow on what I pick up, so what ends up in my fridge is from local Ontario Dairy Farmers, and that makes me feel better. I have been searching out the A2 variety of dairy since recording episode 63 with John Van Dyke and I think it is the ultimate testament to eating dairy, and he has 9 kids who think the same! 

  1. Pack your fridge with protein, vitamin and nutrient rich foods that help, not hinder the immune system. Beyond local Ontario dairy, add to your shopping list colourful foods; greens like broccoli, spinach and your favourite salad greens; peppers of all colours; vitamin C rich sweet potato; mushrooms that contain vitamin D; beta carotene rich carrots; immune supportive onions, garlic, ginger, and even turmeric root as its antiinflammatory benefits can be added to soups and stews. Fruits like berries, kiwi, apples, pears, lemons and limes. 
  2. Protein rich foods help your immunity more than you realize so stock up with oily fish; poultry that you can make stock or broth from and also eat the meat; dairy which not only contains protein, but also vitamin D which is important for immune support and has been talked about over and over again to do with respiratory health as well as overall immunity. focusing on eating rich foods like Ontario dairy; milk, yogurt, cheese, and mushrooms can help give your vitamin D status the ultimate boost it needs to restore, and maintain the body’s immunity 

 

So that’s all about what to have in your fridge, but then there’s what to leave on the shelf although I know that it’s calling out your name. Rather than heading to the cookie aisle, can you try out the Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe, based on oats, from my book Sprout Right Family Food? Make a double batch and freeze some if they don’t get inhaled. Then there’s the Immune Boosting Soup based on my Meat Broth recipe, which is much better than stock cubes or store bought cans or tetra packs of broth.

Paying special attention to the sweet treats like Chris’s favourite ICE CREAM, making something like my fruity frozen yogurt at home is a tasty alternative that checks the vitamin D box, increasing the colours with more antioxidants and eases up more sugary options. Recipe is below.

 

Supporting your immunity needn’t be boring, lifeless or tasteless. There are so many ways to stock your pantry and fridge to help you get through the winter season, so thank you Janice, for sending in your question for me to answer. I’ve just received a new shipment of Sunshine D3+K2, so get them while they last. Along with Bio Boost and Kid Boost, it is our best seller! 

Alright, so go forth and feel good, all season long and don’t be a slave to the sniffles! Thanks for tuning in, share this with everyone, and send in your question that you’d like me to answer on an upcoming episode, because clearly that’s what we love to do. And as always, please remember to EAT THIS one mouthful at a time. 

 

Fruity Frozen Yogurt 

 Makes about 2 cups (500 mL)

 Your kids will think they’re being spoiled when they eat this! It’s a delightfully healthy yet tasty treat.

1 cup (250 mL) full-fat plain or Ontario Greek yogurt

2½ cups (625 mL) fresh fruit (see Tip)

½ ripe avocado, pitted and peeled (optional)

3 tablespoons (45 mL) pure maple syrup or liquid pure honey 

Directions

  1. Divide the yogurt among the cells of an ice cube tray and freeze.
  2. Spread the fruit mixture evenly on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and freeze.
  3. Once frozen, let the yogurt soften slightly out of the freezer, about 3 to 5 minutes. Purée the yogurt, frozen fruit, avocado (if using), and maple syrup in a food processor until smooth.
  4. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 1 week. Once the fruity yogurt has been frozen, let it thaw slightly before serving, as it will be solid.

Tip: Be sure to include ripe banana as part of your fresh fruit combination for its sweetness and creamy texture.

 NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION

This frozen yogurt is a good source of calcium, phosphorus, vitamin B2, protein, vitamin B12, potassium, molybdenum, zinc, and pantothenic acid.

 

Creamy Sweet Potato Immune-Boosting Soup

Makes about 6 cups (1.5 L) 

This appetizing soup, bursting with flavour and vitamin C, makes a lovely accompaniment to the Bean and Veggie Kamut Quesadillas or the Chicken Souvlaki found in Sprout Right Family Food. It can be served as a main meal with whole-grain bread or by adding in cooked brown rice.

4 cups (1 L) Meat Broth or Vegetable Broth 

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped

½ cup (125 mL) red lentils, rinsed well

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 kale leaf, chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped

2 teaspoons (10 mL) ground cumin

1½ teaspoons (7 mL) ground coriander

1½ teaspoons (7 mL) chopped fresh ginger

1 ½ cups (400 mL) Ontario table cream 18%

1 tablespoon (15 mL) chopped fresh cilantro

 Directions

  1. Add the broth, sweet potato, lentils, onion, kale, garlic, cumin, coriander, and ginger to a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until the sweet potato is fork-tender, about 20 minutes.
  2. Stir in the cream, cilantro and purée until smooth.
  3. Store the soup in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months.

 

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION

This soup is a good source of beta carotene, fibre, potassium, manganese, and vitamins C and E.

 

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