Today more than ever, it’s crucial to keep our immune system strong. By giving your body the
right foods, you can help boost your natural defenses to help keep flu, colds, and other infections
Here are some top immune system booster tips to get you through winter and beyond.
Eat cooked elderberries
Elderberries have been used as a health remedy since Hippocrates, the ‘father of medicine,’ in
400 BC. Hippocrates said that the elder tree was his ‘medicine chest’ – a hint for the rest of us!
Elder plants and trees are commonly found around the world, but the European elder – Sambucus
nigra – is the one that’s thought to be most beneficial for supporting our health.
You can consume the flowers as well as the berries, and both are packed with vitamins and
antioxidants that have been linked to heart health, stress reduction, and lower inflammation.
Always consume flowers and berries cooked, however, as they are poisonous when eaten raw.
Elderberries have been scientifically proven to increase our production of inflammatory
cytokines. Cytokines allow our cells to communicate with each other to fight off disease.
Elderberries have also been used by people to help with:
- Cold and flu symptoms
- HIV and AIDS
- Dealing with chemotherapy
- Digestive problems such as gas and constipation
- Pain in joints or muscles
- Upper respiratory tract infections such as influenza
- Kidney problems
- Weight management
- Skin conditions
That’s quite a list!
Where to find elderberries
You can find cooked elderberries as a flavoring in various drinks and foods, though they won’t
be concentrated enough to provide any health benefits. Cooked elderberries are also in jams and
pies, but these foods contain sugar and are not health-promoting.
You can’t really get elderberries from foods easily, and yet they are so beneficial for health.
This is why extracts such as Christiane’s elderberry juice can help you to safely reap the
immune-boosting benefits of elderberries.
So elderberries should be top of your list – in addition, here are some other ways to add power to
your immune system.
Eat foods with vitamin C
Vitamin C is a well-known immune-boosting vitamin. This vitamin increases the production of
white blood cells, which are crucial to fighting infections.
Unlike elderberries, most people don’t need to take a supplement to get enough vitamin C.
Although the body doesn’t store it, we can get this vitamin from our food.
Some common foods that are high in vitamin C are:
- Citrus fruits – oranges, grapefruits, tangerines, lemons, limes
- Sweet peppers (these have three times as much vitamin C as an orange!)
- Dark leafy greens – spinach, kale
Eat foods rich in vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 supports the biochemical reactions that take place in our bodies’ immune system by
increasing production of new red and white blood cells.
Foods that are rich in vitamin B6 are:
- Chicken and other poultry
- Cold-water fish – salmon, tuna
- Green vegetables
- Soya beans
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that helps us fight off infection. This vitamin helps widen
our blood vessels to prevent blood clots and to keep nutrients and oxygen flowing in the body.
Cells also use vitamin E to communicate with each other to ward off disease.
Food sources of vitamin E are plant-based sources of oils as well as seeds, nuts, fruit and
vegetables, such as:
- Almonds, walnuts, peanuts and other nuts
- Sunflower and other seeds
- Oils derived from wheat germ, sunflowers, safflowers and soybeans.
- Green vegetables such as spinach, beet greens, collard greens
- Other vegetables like pumpkin, squash, and peppers
Eat the rainbow
Here’s possibly the easiest tip for boosting your immune system: eat the rainbow!
Fruits and vegetables are all different colors for a reason. Each color has different phytonutrients
associated with it that we need for good health. The more colorful your diet, the stronger your
immune system can be.
You can have fun by finding creative ways to include different colors on every plate of food you
eat. Here are some examples:
Red foods: strawberries, red peppers, tomatoes
Green foods: spinach, cucumber, broccoli
Orange foods: oranges, carrots, apricots
Yellow foods: lemons, pineapples, squash
Blue or purple foods: grapes, eggplant…and of course elderberry juice!