This is a guest blog by local OC mom Melanie, who shares with us 8 nutrients to boost your family’s immune system along with easy mom-t0-mom tips on how to get these nutrients into our kiddos!
“If you are like me you are always trying to find helpful and simple ways to keep your kids healthy. Besides getting the flu shot and washing your hands, to avoid getting sick, there are a number of foods you can eat to boost your immune system.
Did you know you can increase the number of white blood cells by eating certain foods? Yep, natural immune boosters can be found in everyday foods we eat.”
8 Nutrients to Boost your Immune System
Boosts infection-fighting white blood cells and antibodies. Can be found in guava, papaya, strawberries, kiwi, cantaloupe, orange & grapefruit
Kid-friendly Smoothie Recipe: One handful of spinach or kale, 1 cup OJ (the OJ cancels out any of the leafy green taste), any frozen fruit your kids like – berries, papaya and guava are best for boosting immunity. If you add Greek yogurt or protein powder this makes a great complete breakfast for everyone.
Helps produce cells that kill germ cells and boosts immune cells that produce antibodies that destroy bacteria. Found in seeds, vegetable oils and grains.
Increases infection-fighting cells and is an antioxidant. These foods are carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, kale, collard greens, tomatoes (notice the theme of deep colorful foods)
Sweet potato fries are a yummy alternative to regular fries. Find them in the frozen section of Trader Joe’s or cut your own sweet potatoes and roast with olive oil and salt and pepper. A great side dish to any meal!
Protects the body against environmental pollutants. Including berries, cherries, grapes, fruit skins, and true fruit juices, teas (not herbal), grains, celery, parsley, grapefruit, oranges, apple skin, onion, endive, radishes, tomatoes, leeks, broccoli and red wine
Pink Lady Apples – my kids LOVE these sweet apples, great for lunches or snacks
(Recipe from The Food You Crave by Ellie Krieger – one of my favorites!)
1 bunch broccoli
1 tbsp water
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup plain dry bread crumbs, preferably whole-wheat (store-bought or 1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs made from whole-wheat bread processed into fine crumbs)
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp salt
pinch of freshly ground black pepper
Cut the broccoli into spears and put in a large microwave-safe bowl with water. Cover tightly ad micro-wave on high for 5 minutes. Carefully remove the cover, drain the broccoli well, and set aside (or you can lightly steam or blanch the broccoli if you don’t want to use microwave).
While broccoli is cooking, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the bread crumbs, oregano, salt and pepper and cook, stirring, cook until the crumbs are toasted and golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add the broccoli, toss to coat with bread crumbs, and serve.
Increases the number of infection fighting white blood cells. Foods include oysters, crab, beef, turkey (dark meat) and beans.
Another food that increases infection-fighting white cells. Garlic is a food that is easily incorporated into daily recipes.
Increases natural killer cells and mobilizes cancer-fighting cells. Including tuna, red snapper, lobster, shrimp, whole grains, brown rice, egg yolks, cottage cheese, chicken (white meat), sunflower seeds, garlic, Brazil nuts and lamb chops
Omega-3 Fatty acids
Increase the activity of the cells that eat up bacteria and protects the body against damage from over-reactions to infection. Found in flax oil or ground flax seed and fatty fish (salmon, tuna and mackerel)
In addition, our pediatrician recommends that the entire family take a Vitamin D supplement to combat the flu. Although we get vitamin D in milk and from the sun, we don’t quite get enough of it to fight off the flu so a supplement is helpful.
My family has been juicing lately. We got a juicer from Target for Christmas. This is such an easy way to get extra vitamins and minerals into your diet. The kids really enjoy picking their own fruits and veggies to create their own juice recipes.
Remember- if you have any health issues it is always important to consult with your doctor before making any major changes to your diet.
Melanie Meixner is a certified Dr. Sears LEAN Coach. She also teaches Health and Nutrition to Middle School students at Capo Beach Christian School. She also has 2 fairly picky eaters at home who inspire her to learn about healthy eating habits. All nutritional facts in this article were found at www.drsearswellnessinstitute.org.
Photo credit: Wylio