Eating for your Immune System

There’s vitamins, essential oils and prescriptions, oh my. When sickness strikes, we will try anything. Many of my friends have kids who are struggling to fight off stubborn infections this winter, and they just don’t know what else to do. Though I don’t claim to be an expert, one way our family stays healthy is by taking a proactive view of what we eat, and we do it in conscious thought of boosting our immune system.

You can feel stuffed and satisfied in your belly and yet your body can be starving for nourishment. What we put into our bodies matters, and can have a positive or negative affect on how we are able to beat the bad bugs that invade us. You can’t always avoid sickness, but a¬†few simple additions (and one big subtraction) to your shopping cart could be all it takes to survive cold and flu season.

1. Subtract sweets

We all know too much sugar isn’t good for us and is linked to obesity. But did you know sugar is what viruses and bacteria love? By avoiding processed sugars, breads, crackers, juices, and even fruit, the bugs will starve and therefore not grow.

Limit your dairy intake as well, which your body processes as sugar, mainly to yogurt or kefir. Kefir is like a milkshake consistency, which is a more potent probiotic than yogurt, and is a great way for kids to start their day when rushing through the morning routine.

2. Eat fermented foods fondly

Fermented foods are a powerful way to give your immune system a daily boost. Certain brands of pickles and sauerkraut are a tasty way to bring more live and active cultures bubbies-picklesinto your diet. The Brinery is a local company, which makes artisan sauerkrauts, and is found at Whole Foods. Bubbies is another brand that makes pickles and is more readily available. Stores like Whole Foods and Papa Joe’s carry these nutritional stars in their refrigerated sections. Avoid sauerkraut or pickles that contain vinegar, sugar, or are not refrigerated, for they won’t provide the cultures needed to fight infection. Our kids eat a small bowl of sauerkraut or eat one dill pickle most days as maintenance to their health.

3. Brew up bone broth

It’s not just myth that chicken noodle soup will help you with a cold. But if you’re buying the classic brand with the white and red label can at the grocery store, you are probably wasting your efforts. Get back to grandma’s style and make your own delicious and powerful chicken broth from scratch. It sounds scary, but if I can do it, you can, too. The best way is to find a small, whole organic chicken, roast it, remove the meat, and then boil the bones for a day. The broth can be saved in a refrigerator or frozen for whenever it’s needed. I found a simple and delicious chicken bone broth recipe on the “Oh Lardy!” website.

4. Slip in some strong flavors

spicesGarlic, onions, ginger, curry, and cilantro have strong anti-inflammatory properties and can be a tasty weapon against infection. If cooking from scratch is a foreign notion to you, there is pre-peeled garlic and frozen cut onions available so you don’t have to do the stinky work. Even powdered herbs are better than not using them at all, so beef up your spice rack if it doesn’t already contain these specific flavors. Because chopping them up can be such a stinky chore, buy a large amount of onions or garlic at once, chop them all and freeze in bags for future use.

5. Enjoy eggs

A powerful protein, eggs are one of the best things you can eat to avoid getting sick since they contain choline. Consider making breakfast for dinner, if your mornings are too busy for cooking at dawn. Or make simple pancakes – mixing up 3 eggs, 1 cup of yogurt, 1/3 cup of flour, and 1 tsp. baking powder.

These basic nutritional additions to your diet can be a great way to help your family stay healthy this winter. Though there is no “secret” way to avoid all colds and flu bugs, being proactive in the combat could keep you running strong this cold season. Get enough sleep, stay active, and fill your shopping cart with foods that will nourish and boost your immune system.

About Heidi Morris

Rochester Hills mom of three. Loves life, loves family, loves to share new and interesting things with everyone. Contact her today at


  1. Jen Bucciarelli says

    Love your suggestions, Heidi! c : Great post and grand tips! c :

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