How To Naturally Boost Your Immune System Food (Plus, A Bonus Recipe)

By Laurie Borenstein

With colds, flues and other nasty bugs running rampant, we urge you to avoid the usual last minute scramble to the pharmacy for the Emergen-C or NyQuil. Not only is the midnight run to the drugstore often too late, but also those over-the-counter, self-proclaimed quick fixes are questionably effective. That doesn’t, however, mean that you’re destined to crawl under the covers and alternate between shivering, sweating and sniffling your way to health. Instead, boost your immune system naturally and prevent the illness from ever getting to you in the first place.

More powerfully preventative than you may realize, your daily food choices are a fantastic way to send your immune system into high gear and form a stubborn shield against both seasonal ailments as well as more serious illnesses and diseases.

Here are a few of our favorite winter faves that can combine for one simply delicious hearty winter dish:

Garlic. This pungent superfood has numerous beneficial properties, which make it the ideal immune-boosting food. It helps maintain healthy digestive bacteria, which is extremely important since the gastrointestinal tract is a prominent part of the human immune system. Studies have also linked garlic to the prevention of cancer and it has been shown to help blood pressure and maintain a healthy heart. Furthermore, garlic reacts like an antibiotic in the body and has proven to have anti-inflammatory and anti-infection properties too! Just be sure loved ones share this smelly spice too!

6 more spices to boost flavor and health!

Brussel sprouts. This crunchy cruciferous vegetable contains a wealth of phytonutrients and nitrogen compounds that have been linked to anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer reactions in the body. This hearty vegetable also provides plenty of detoxifying agents, antioxidants and cold-fighting vitamin C (50 percent more than found in oranges!). Their high levels of Vitamin A also serve to boost immune-system function and promote healthy, resilient skin. Folate, another heart-healthy nutrient found in the sprouts, may protect against cognitive decline and is essential for pregnant women to prevent birth defects. This power-packed winter veggie also helps keep the digestive system running smoothly, thanks to its high fiber content.

Sweet potatoes. These orange-fleshed vegetables offer all the versatility of white potatoes with incomparable nutritional, vitamin, and mineral content. Alongside these fiber packed gems, is a hefty dose of vitamins A, C, B6, potassium, manganese, and are extremely rich in carotenes. They are a powerful antioxidant, stabilizer of blood sugar, and aid in healthy digestive function.  Bonus: consumption of this high potassium root helps to prevent heart attack and stroke, as well as maintenance of electrolyte balance in the body cells.

Another healthy sweet potato recipe!

Garlic & Thyme Roasted Winter Vegetables

1 lb sweet potatoes, cut into ¾ inch chunks
1 lb brussel sprouts, trimmed
3  cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tbsp of fresh thyme leaves (removed from stems)
¼ cup of olive oil
½ tsp of sea salt

Preheat oven to 350F. Line 2 roasting pans with aluminum foil. Mix all ingredients together (except garlic) and spread veggies in the pans in a single layer. Roast for 20 minutes. Add garlic and roast for another 20 minutes until golden and tender. For variation add even more of your favorite veggies, like carrots, broccoli or asparagus!

Boost your energy levels with these foods!