Now more than ever, we see how critical it can be to have a baseline of good health to help prevent, or at least reduce severity of, sickness. Every choice you make can add to your well being, or add to your toxicity load – how much sleep you get, how much water you drink, how active you are and the foods you eat. Especially now, every bite of immune-boosting food will build up your body’s ability to resist and overcome.

Why do you need to choose fresh foods over packaged foods?

With our current stay at home order, you might be tempted to flock to your local grocery store to stock up on the shelf-stable foods. The ramen, canned soup, cookies, chips and crackers will last for months after all.

But these packaged foods are typically packed with unhealthy additives, food dyes, sugar and sodium. The more of these toxins you put into your body, the more taxed your immune system becomes – decreasing it’s ability to fight off disease and sickness like it was made to do.

Instead, when you eat healthier fresh, whole foods – foods you typically find around the perimeter of a grocery store – you are fueling your body with vitamins and minerals that build up your immune system, enabling it to extract toxins and fight off sickness more effortlessly.

Which healthy foods are specifically immune-boosting foods?

Lots of healthy, fresh foods provide minerals and vitamins we need. Dark berries, lemons, grapefruit and almonds are a few of the usual foods you read about. But the following immune-boosting foods may surprise you and are known to super charge your immune system function, which includes your lymphatic system.

Leafy greens

Leafy greens build up your immune system even more than other vegetables do. You may be surprised to know that you should ideally eat 4-5 servings of leafy greens per day! So start adding these nutrient-dense greens into your meals, breakfasts included.

  • Watercress
  • Spinach
  • Leaf lettuce
  • Romaine
  • Kale
  • Arugula
  • Swiss chard
  • Collard greens
  • Broccoli rabe
  • Dandelion greens
  • Cabbage

Other immune-boosting foods

Though not a replacement for leafy greens, these foods will also help strengthen your immune system.

  • Garlic (especially raw)
  • Papaya
  • Mushrooms (choose maitake, reishi or shiitake over button)
  • Sesame seeds
  • Squash
  • Pumpkin
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Fresh spices such as cayenne pepper, cinnamon, ginger and turmeric

Other substitutes for packaged foods

  • Raw vegetables and fruits (pre-cut so they’re handy)
  • Nuts and seeds (no added ingredients, moderate or no salt)
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Homemade soup (easy with crockpot or Instant Pot)
  • Homemade plantain chips with guacamole
  • Homemade sweet potato, kale, apple or seaweed chips
  • Grilled or air-fried sweet potatoes
  • Zucchini or carrot noodles

Admittedly, eating these fresh, immune-boosting foods may not be our norm. But this pandemic seems to be warning us – calling us – to be more mindful and to make choices that will enable us to sustain, and hopefully thrive, even though the most challenging times.