We invite you to create a winter wellness plan that works for you! Winter is a wonderful time to slow down and nourish yourself – especially as the Flu & Cold season sets in, it becomes particularly important to boost your immune system with nutrient-dense superfoods. The Flu Season is not a season; it’s a period when decreased sun exposure and water intake along with increased stress impede immune function and affect your ability to fight off pathogens.
The good news is: there are foods that naturally boost your immune system, which can help you avoid the flu and cold altogether. These foods also help you to recover from sickness and other ailments. Tip: it has nothing to do with Vitamin C.
Popular culture portrays Vitamin C as the anti-sickness nutrient. However, research debunks this myth, showing that “intake of Vitamin C may slightly reduce the duration of the illness in healthy persons but does not affect its incidence and severity.” 1 Basically, it doesn’t make a huge impact in boosting your immune system.
Instead, try these nutrient-dense foods and learn how they support your immune system and other body functions.
#1 Food to Boost the Immune System
Maca boosts the immune system by keeping your stress at bay. As a nutrient-dense adaptogenic superfood, Maca eases your response to different stressors: mental, physical, emotional, and environmental. In short, it helps you adapt to the changes instead of stress about it. Managing stress is important for boosting your immune system because cortisol (the stress hormone) suppresses your immune cells.2
Maca also contains vitamins C and A as well as B2, B6 and Niacin in addition to the minerals iron, zinc, iodine, calcium, copper, magnesium and potassium. It is also host to beneficial enzymes and natural compounds like glucosinolates. Its complex array of micronutrients, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes work to boost the immune system by supporting the adrenal system and restoring the balance of endocrine hormones, and maintaining optimal homeostasis.
Incorporate Maca into your winter wellness diet by adding it to your coffee or smoothie. It can also be mixed into oatmeal, pancakes, baked goods, raw desserts, and even soups!
Tulsi Chamomile Tea
#2 Food to Boost the Immune System
Chamomile is a gentle herb with mildly sedative effects to help you sleep better. Chamomile tea is wonderful for boosting your immune system because quality sleep and rest are essential for maintaining a healthy immune system.
As you sleep, your body produces cytokines: natural compounds that can fight inflammation and infection to protect your immune system. Without sufficient sleep, your body may not be equipped with enough cytokines to prevent from getting sick.3 Research shows that people who don’t get enough quality sleep are more likely to become sick after being exposed to viruses such as the common cold. 4
So tonight, boost your immune system by brewing a cup of warm Tulsi Chamomile Honey Tea.
Elderberry and Elder Flower
#3 Food to Boost the Immune System
Used for centuries in North America, Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa, the Elderberry tree is widely respected in the world of folk medicine for its immune-boosting properties. Modern research suggests that elder flowers and berries have properties that ease various ailments including reducing swelling in mucous membranes, easing sinuses, and helping relieve nasal congestion. Elder is also thought to have anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and anti-influenza properties.5 In addition, elderberries are known for its high contents of flavonoids: an antioxidant that helps prevent damage to the body’s cells.
If you feel the flu or cold coming on, boost your immune system and fight it off with Elderberry extract.
#4 Food to Boost the Immune System
#5 Food to Boost the Immune System
Spirulina is an ancient superfood that contains a full spectrum of vitamins and minerals to fortify the body and boost the immune system. According to a study conducted by Eric Gershwin, UC Davis professor of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Spirulina increases beneficial cytokines: the compounds that fight against inflammation and infection.
Spirulina is also known for a range of health benefits including easing allergies, detoxifying the body, and reducing inflammation. This potent blue-green algae contains a spectrum of vitamins including B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, K, and E. It also boasts copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, selenium, and zinc.
“These cytokines suggest that spirulina is a strong proponent for protecting against intracellular pathogens and parasites and can potentially increase the expression of agents that stimulate inflammation, which also helps to protect the body against infectious and potentially harmful microorganisms,” said Gershwin. 7
Spirulina has a slightly nutty flavor. Try mixing a spoonful with coconut water or apple juice – a little goes a long way! It’s also great to add to salad dressings, smoothies, and grain bowls.
1 “Vitamin C and Immune Function.” Ströhle A1, Hahn A. Med Monatsschr Pharm.
2 “Stress, Cortisol, and the Immune System: What Makes Us Sick.” Alvin Lim. The Science Creative Quarterly.
3 “Lack of Sleep.” Eric J. Olson, M.D. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.
4 “Lack of Sleep Dramatically Raises Your Risk of Getting Sick.“ Mandy Oaklander. Time Health.
5 “Medical Reference Guide: Elderberry.” University of Maryland Medical Center.
6 “Transcriptome Modification of White Blood Cells.” Colitti M, Gaspardo B, Della Pria A, Scaini C, Stefanon B. Vet Immunol Immunopathol.
7 “UC Davis Study Shows Spirulina Boosts Immune System.” UC Davis School of Medicine and Medical Center.