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Stay fed and stay healthy

In a normal year, staying safe from the flu is usually the only thing to worry about in the fall in terms of living and staying healthy. Not this year. While COVID-19 continues to spread, combined with the annual flu season, it is more important than ever to take precautions to stay healthy. One of the best ways to prevent against disease is to have a healthy immune system, and fortunately to  achieve this you really don’t have to look any further than your kitchen. 

“There are certainly things we can do, and it starts with what’s on our plate,” said Mareya Ibrahim. “Food has the ability to manage stress, and ward off viruses while balancing hormones and gut health. When they see food is your medicine, they really weren’t kidding.”  
 

Cauliflower gnochi with pistachio pistou. Photo courtesy Mareya Ibrahim.

Ibrahim presented a webinar entitled “The Top 8 immunity and Boosting Foods to Help You Thrive” during Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo’s “Live at Your Table” virtual conference.  Below are the eight immunity boosting foods Ibrahim recommends incorporating into your diet.  

Nuts and seeds 
 
Incorporating nuts and seeds into your diet will largely contribute to your immunity given that the majority of nuts and seeds are high in lysine, which is an essential amino acid that is directly connected to immunity boosting functions in order to support healthy white blood cells.  Lysine has been proven to help expedite the healing of wounds and the creation of new blood vessels.
 
Nuts and seeds can either be consumed on their own, such as pecans, pumpkin seeds, almonds or cashews, or they can be added to other foods such as pine nuts in a pesto, included in a salad or even sprinkled on top of avocado toast.  
 
Yogurt 
 
As a probiotic rich food, yogurt is a great source for diversifying the types of healthy bacteria that contribute to a healthy gut. In addition to dairy-based yogurts, there are also almond or coconut yogurts available for those who do not consume dairy. 
 
In addition to being consumed on its own, yogurt can also be used in smoothies or even in savory dishes in sauces.  One way to incorporate yogurt into a savory dish is by taking plain Greek yogurt, lemon, cucumber, garlic, coriander and pepper to create a sauce, which can then be served with roasted veggies, fish or grilled chicken.  
 
Micro greens 
 
Micro greens provide a tremendous number of phytonutrients, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. 
 
A few different ways to incorporate micro greens include blending them into a smoothie, adding them on top of a salad, or even as a side dish.  
 

No-bake blueberry 'cheesecake' and lemon curd bliss bars. Photo courtesy Mareya Ibrahim.

Berries 

As an antioxidant rich food, consuming berries can help in protection against diseases by helping your cells to be healthy, energized and vibrant. 

Since there are so many different varieties of berries, the ways that you can hat you can incorporate them into your diet offers a lot of versailithy. Berries are also very readily available, whether fresh or frozen.  

Garlic and onions 

As prebiotic rich foods, garlic and onions, helps feed the friendly bacteria in your gut. Which in turn contributes to a healthier digestive system These foods are also the foundation for many of today’s antibiotics. 

Garlic and onions can be added to just about anything, whether it’s a sauce, a seasoning, or rub.  

Beans 

Beans are very rich in zinc, which is needed for DNA synthesis, immune function, metabolism and growth. Zinc can also reduce inflammation and can also fight infection. 

Beans can also help maintain a healthy system of cells, much like berries, as well as provide a strong source of Vitamin B.  
 

Grilled MedMex Salmon Pasta with Burnt Brussels Sprouts and Fire-Roasted Tomato Sauce. Photo courtesy Mareya Ibrahim.

Wild caught seafood 

Fatty fish that are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids which offer a wide range of health benefits including: lowering blood pressure, help with anxiety and depression, reduce the likelihood of heart attack or stroke, and Omega 3 fatty acids can also help with immunity. 

Some of the fatty fish that are the best sources of Omega 3 include salmon and sardines. 

Spicy foods 

Spicy foods such as peppers, wasabi and horseradish are great sources of capsaicin, which is a super immune booster. Capsaicin has been used for its pain-relieving effects, cardiovascular benefits, and can even help to prevent ulcers. It can also help with metabolism boosting and be used as an anti-inflammatory. 

Keep this list handy when you’re at the grocery store so that you can add these immunity boosting foods to your pantry. 

“It’s time that we armor up and take our health into our own hands,” Ibrahim said.  

 

Amber Kispert

Content Producer

Amber is the Content Producer for Catersource. Amber previously worked as a Communications Specialist for LeClair Group and a reporter for the Woodbury Bulletin, both located in Woodbury, Minn.  As a self-described "foodie," Amber loves to experience the world of...