As in any case of large scale sickness such as the current Coronavirus, the best advice to stay healthy is to reduce contact with others, wash your hands, cover your mouth when you cough, don't touch your face, and do anything you can to keep your immune system at top notch. The first few items are a constant battle, but I don’t think maintaining a strong immune system is quite as hard as some may think.
There are endless ways to boost your immune system - from exercise to so-called miracle pills or multivitamins. I am not one to discount anyone’s methods, but I do prefer avoiding a pill if I can get the same nutrient from a food source. In order to take a nutrient like Vitamin C and turn it into a pill, it requires some aggressive processing. Some may use dehydration by heat, some cold pressed and low temp dehydration. The main issue I have is that none of this is natural. Will our bodies really absorb all or any of that powder that was once a tasty orange?
This is the same issue many people run into daily with dehydration. I can’t tell you how many people say they drink 64oz of water every day, yet they still battle dehydration. When you take a big swig of that monstrous water bottle, you can chug a solid 4-6 ounces of water, depending on the person. The issue is, there is nothing to slow down its flow. You absorb most of your water in your small intestine, but what helps this absorption is the mixture of carbs, fats, proteins and fiber which combines with water and gives your body a real chance to take that water in a usable way. Without these other nutrients involved, your body is quick to pass the water straight through to your bladder and the percentage of absorption is quite inefficient.
What I am saying is: the more natural your source of nutrition, the better! Watermelon is a fantastic way to hydrate. Due to its naturally high water content, your body is able to absorb water from the watermelon throughout the digestive tract. You absorbs vitamins, minerals and carbohydrates that are bound to those water molecules. The same rule applies with the vitamins and minerals we need to help boost our immune health. By eating a red bell pepper, you giving your body about 152mg of vitamin C which can be fully absorbed, in comparison to a 500mg vitamin C pill that there is no way of measuring just how much of that 500mg is absorbed, if any at all.
It is for this reason that I like to blend myself an immune boosting shot every day or two. This shot is simple and not necessarily the best tasting, but it has always helped get me through the flu and cold season relatively unscathed. Even on those occasions that I do get sick, I am usually able to connect that directly to my dehydration which left me vulnerable, but I do always seem to bounce back quickly.
My health shot contains all the following ingredients, and here is what each brings to the table:
Ginger: As a strong antioxidant and combatant of free radicals, ginger has always been known for boosting your immune response. It contains magnesium, iron, zinc, and calcium in large amounts, and it helps to kill off cold viruses and combat chills and fever.
Cayenne: The capsaicin and other vitamins and minerals in peppers are known to fight GI pathogens, ulcerations and cancer. This being said, peppers also activate your circulatory system which aids in combating cold and flu by increasing the blood flow and speed of immune cells getting transported to sites of infection.
Basil: A classic herb that has been used throughout history to fight infection, it has extensive vitamins and minerals that can help combats free radicals and stress related oxidation. In turn, this allows your immune system to focus on other areas of attack. It also helps make your shot taste way better!
Garlic: As raw garlic contains lots of alliin, it is when you ingest and process garlic the alliin becomes allicin which is thought to give garlic its powerful immune-boosting properties.
Lemon: High in vitamin C, a natural antioxidant which enhances the immune system and has antiviral and antibacterial properties. However, apart from supporting the immune system and tasting good, lemons also combat infection quite effectively.
Honey: With natural antioxidant and antibacterial properties, honey improves the digestive system and boost immunity. It is also a powerhouse of antioxidants, which are very effective for the removal of free radicals from the body.
Orange juice - A concentrated source of vitamin C which doubles as a powerful antioxidant and plays a central role in immune function. Additionally, vitamin C helps promote bone formation, wound healing, and gum health (strong gums are the first deterrent to oral pathogens).
This immune boosting shot is not a miracle worker or something that is going to help you jump over the moon. In fact, this shot is a bit intense to drink because between the garlic, cayenne and ginger, it has a spicy kick to it. This shot will absolutely give your body a little extra high five in the never ending battle against bacterial and viral infection. Below are a few pictures to show you how simple this is to make, and I hope you try this or mix up your own version based on other natural immune boosting foods.
Immune Boosting Shot
Scroll down for a printable version of this recipe
1-inch nob of fresh ginger, cut against the grain into coins
1 cup basil leaves, rough chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 lemon, juiced and zested
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1. Add all ingredients except the orange juice to a blender and puree until smooth.
2. Add the orange juice and blend all ingredients again.
3. Drink, and feel your body smile!
Check out The Chopping Block's new plant-based ideas for everyone's favorite night of the week: Taco Tuesday! Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Amy Klassman won't focus on tofu, seitan and meat substitutes, but rather ways to increase the amount of plant-based foods in your everyday diet. Sign up for Plant-Based Taco Tuesday on Saturday, April 11 12pm at Lincoln Square.