Favorite Immune Support Tips

It's no secrete how important protecting your immune system is after the year we've all been enduring.

With cold and flu season around the corner, here are some non-diet tips to give your immune system some TLC this Fall and Winter.

NOTE: the recommendations here are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for medical advice

There are many nourishing immune-supporting foods. Here are a handful of favorites from my good friend and naturopathic doctor, Rebecca Sorenson.

Herbs and spices
Kick cold-flu season to the curb this season!

Rebecca and I were both working for a culinary education program a couple of years ago. I was grateful to sit in on one of Rebecca's classes just I was starting to feel a tickle in my nose and a scratch in my throat.

I was impressed with the simplicity and effectiveness of the suggestions Rebecca presented during the class, and I thought it would be worth everyone's while if I shared her information here.

I can absolutely attest to the effectiveness of the ingredients listed below and the recipes that follow. After 2 large bowls of the ginger chicken soup and a good dose of onion syrup that Rebecca graciously shared, my scratchy throat was well on its way to being history.

Foods for Boosting Immunity

Ginger: One of the most anti-inflammatory herbs that we have access to, ginger is also anti-microbial, warming, and helps settle a nauseated stomach.

Onions: Pungent and antimicrobial, onions act to kick-start the immune system, helping it to become better at fighting disease. Onions are also super high in quercetin, a flavonoid that has powerful antioxidant actions in the body.

Garlic: Another great antimicrobial, garlic can fight bacteria, fungi, worms, and viruses. Raw garlic has strong antimicrobial actions. When garlic is cooked, the antimicrobial activity decreases, but it is still a powerful antioxidant.

Horseradish: Horseradish is very pungent like garlic and onions. It heats up the body, helping the body to fight invading microbes. It has been used for centuries as a remedy for colds and flu and as a digestive aid.

Raw Honey: Honey is one of the most healing substances on the planet. Highly antimicrobial, it also is antifungal and antioxidant. It is hydrating to the body --inside and out --and highly nutritious. It’s a great addition to a healing regimen. Honey local to your area will also help suppress allergy symptoms.

Elderberry Syrup: Elderberries are immune kick-starters and antiviral allies which prevent or shorten the length of cold and flu viruses. They are known to be active against eight strains of influenza. Studies have found that elderberry disarms the enzyme viruses use to penetrate healthy cells in the lining of the nose and throat. You can typically find elderberry syrups at your local natural food store, including Whole Foods Market.

Cranberries: Polyphenols, the healthy antioxidant in cranberries, prime your immune system to respond faster and better to germ invaders according to recent studies. To be most effective, the juice must be 100% without any added sugar.

Apple Cider Vinegar: Raw Apple Cider vinegar is packed with minerals and enzymes that benefit the body. The acidity of the vinegar gives the vinegar antimicrobial properties. Vinegar can also extract constituents of herbs and therefore makes a great vehicle for herbal medicines.

Chicken Stock: Super nourishing, broths made with chicken bones strengthen the body whenever it is depleted. Remember how you felt having chicken soup when you were sick as a kid? Yep, it's immune magic in a bowl!

RECIPES created or adapted by Rebecca Sorenson ND

Soup and bread
Immune magic in a bowl!

Gingered Chicken Soup

1 large onion or 2 small onions

2 stalks celery

3-4 beets

3-4 carrots

1 small green cabbage

4-5 potatoes

ginger- 2 inches, grated

8 cups chicken stock (recipe above)

2 cups shredded, cooked chicken

sea salt to taste

Sauté chopped onion in olive oil gently until translucent. Add chopped celery, carrots, and beets. Salt a bit. Add rough chopped potatoes and cabbage. Salt a bit. Add grated ginger (about 2 tablespoons). Add chicken stock. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer until vegetables are cooked through. Add cooked chicken. Simmer for 15-20 more minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

Healing Chicken Stock:

2 Tbs oil or butter

1 chicken carcass (with the meat removed)

1 onion (skin could be included)

2 carrots (ends could be included)

2 celery stalks (ends could be included)

1 bouquet garni (thyme, bay leaf, sage, parsley)

Clean vegetables. Chop onion into a dice. Gently melt butter in a large stockpot and add diced onion. Sauté slowly with a bit of salt. Add carrots and celery and sauté. Add chicken carcass. Add approximately 8 cups of water. Add bouquet garni. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for 1-12 hours. Stock can be frozen for ease of future soup making.

Onion Syrup

1 onion, sliced as thin as possible

Organic cane sugar, to sprinkle

Choose a clean mason jar, the size that holds the amount of syrup that you would like to make. Sprinkle a bit of sugar on the bottom. Gently place a layer of super thin onion on top of the sugar. Sprinkle on a bit more sugar--just enough to give it a light coat. Continue like this until you have filled the jar with layered onion and sugar. Put a lid on the jar and let sit for 4-24 hours until most of the onion has turned to liquid. Strain out any remaining plant material, and put your syrup in a clean, fresh jar. Store in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.

If you’re really sick: Take a tablespoon every 3 hours

If you don’t want to get sick: Take a tablespoon 1x per day as a preventative tonic.

dried herbs
Nature's immune support

Resources for Making Your Own Herbal Medicines

Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health

Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs: a Beginner’s Guide

Places to Buy Herbs and Herbal Medicine Making Supplies (Seattle, WA area)

Herban Wellness in Kirkland

Dandelion Botanicals in Ballard

Mountain Rose Herbs (on-line)

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