written by Bonnie Flemington
There is something fresh, new and exciting about the arrival of September. Whether it’s starting at a new school, a new project at work, or just a return to routine, the arrival of autumn is like a new year for many people.
However, with the excitement of this new season comes colder weather and more time indoors. While these changes often lead to an increase in illness, we have more control over our health than we think. The foods we eat can either support or hinder our immune system’s efforts. Let’s take a look at how we can help ourselves be the ones to stay healthy this season ...
Ditch the Sugar
We all love the taste of sugar! Consuming it stimulates our brain’s pleasure centers so we want to consume more. From an evolutionary perspective, this was important for survival, however, today, the abundant availability of sugar results in overconsumption and an overwhelming list of negative health effects, including reduced immunity.
Excess sugar consumption is damaging to our immune system as high glucose levels inhibit vitamin C’s ability to promote healthy immune function. And, sugar has also been shown to reduce white blood cell functioning by over 50% for more than 5 hours.
Adding fermented foods into the diet has many benefits, including boosting immune function. Fermented foods work to provide the body with beneficial bacteria that support our immune cells' ability to attack unwanted invaders. And, adding these foods to the diet is easy and delicious! There are many quick and easy ways to incorporate fermented foods into our diets, such as: yogurt for breakfast, miso stirred into a lunchtime soup and sauerkraut or kimchi as a condiment with dinner.
As we spend more time indoors and are covered in clothing during the winter months, it is very difficult to get adequate amounts of vitamin D from exposure to the sun. This nutrient is important in helping to keep us from getting sick, or to fight off illness faster. An excellent food source of vitamin D is a 4oz portion of wild salmon and it’s a tasty addition to meals. Vitamin D3 is also found in egg yolks, which is a good vegetarian option (for those who eat eggs).
The active component in garlic responsible for its immune enhancing effects is the sulfur compound allicin. Allicin has anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties that have significant benefits in reducing the incidence of colds. The active properties are best absorbed when garlic is eaten raw, so incorporate garlic into vegetable dips such as pesto for a great immune strengthening snack.
Beta-carotene is a source of vitamin A and is a strong anti-oxidant that is responsible for enhancing immune response. You can find carotenes in colourful vegetables such as sweet potato, carrots, and dark, leafy greens. These nutrient dense foods are easy to incorporate into meal plans to make up appetizing salads, side dishes and on the go snacks.
Need Help Staying Healthy this Fall?
Whether you are stressed with an increased work load this fall or busy balancing life with your kids and family, we can help you with the food prep.
Get fresh meals delivered every week so that you have food ready to go. Check out our Meal Delivery service.
Want something more personalized? Check out our Private Chef service and we can come cook for you in your home.
Bonnie Flemington is a passionate nutrition consultant and educator, and student at the Institute of Holistic Nutrition. Bonnie coaches clients on nutritional strategies for disease prevention and weight loss, and has motivated numerous others through corporate and educational workshops. She is committed to empowering people with knowledge to help them take control of their health.
Facebook: Bonnie Flemington
Murray, Michael ND et al., The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods, Atria books, New York (2005).