Let Food Be Thy Medicine

By Rebecca Meyerson (Certified Nutritionist)

As we all have heard before, “You are what you eat.”  It is recommended to eat a balanced diet, eliminating processed foods and reducing inflammatory triggers including dairy, gluten, corn, sugar, and soy. With that being said, it is important that we build up our immune systems, so that we are not susceptible to colds and viruses. The immune system is your natural defense against viruses, bacteria and  other harmful microorganisms. Your body is compromised when your immune system is weak, and your body can not fight invading microorganisms. Here are some health-supportive foods to incorporate into your diet as flu season approaches.

1) Garlic is best consumed raw, however you can still crush, mince and chop it to throw in to your favorite tomato sauce, soups or dressings.  It is known for its antioxidant, antiviral and antibacterial properties.

2) Ginger is a spicy root that brings great flavor to your soups or stir-frys and can be grated into green juice or warm water for a delicious cup of tea.  Ginger is a great aid in digestion and calms nausea.

3) Sweet Potatoes are a sweet root vegetable that can help satisfy sweet cravings. They are great with kale in a sauté or boiled in a vegetable soup. Also, let’s not forget sweet potato fries (see recipe below). The beta carotene in sweet potatoes is known to help treat respiratory infections.

Sweet Potato Fries

2 large sweet potatoes

1 ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

½ tsp. pink Himalayan salt
 (or any salt you have on hand)

½ tsp. paprika

¼ tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into strips that are about ½ inch wide.

Add oil, salt, paprika and cinnamon and spread on the potatoes, then onto the baking sheet in a single layer.

Cook for 30 minutes, turning every 10 minutes, until slightly browned

4) Mushrooms are a wonderful vegetable to add to your omelet or grill them and add to your salad. Mushrooms are loaded with antioxidants, which help build your immune system.

5) Red Bell Peppers be eaten raw in a salad, roasted in the oven, or even grilled.  They have more vitamin C then oranges and are great for preventing illness.

6) Probiotic Rich Foods will assist with improving the digestive process and immune imbalance. Examples of these foods include kimchi (fermented cabbage), apple cider vinegar, Kombucha (fermented tea), and kefir (preferably non dairy versions).

In addition to nutrition, there are a few other factors that are critical for boosting your immune system.

1) Sleep– this is the time that your body is repairing itself.  Aim for seven to eight hours of sleep daily for optimal immunity.

2) Sunshine– natural sun adds D3 which helps to strengthen your immune system.  Aim for 20 minutes of the sun, daily

3) Exercise– causes a boost to the immune system, as well as flushing out your lungs, airways, and hanging your antibodies in your body.

4) Managing stress– Stress leads to elevated cortisol levels which may weaken the immune system.  Therefore, it is important to manage stress whether it is through massage, meditation or any other hobbies that you may enjoy.  

Rebecca Meyerson, MS is a certified nutritionist at ProClinix Sports Physical Therapy & Chiropractic, practicing in both their Armonk location (within Equinox) and their Ardsley location (within House of Sports). She can be reached at 914-202-0700. 

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