As we head into another flu season amid the continued threat of Covid variants, the question that’s top of mind for everyone is: “What can I do to boost my immune system?”
One of the best places to start is with your diet. Research shows that our gut microbiome — or the trillions of microorganisms that live in the intestinal tract — is directly linked to immune health.
Here are four healthy, nutritionist-approved recipes to strengthen your immune system this winter:
1. Haitian soup
There’s truth behind the saying: “Eat the rainbow.” Recent studies have found that phytonutrients, which are minimally processed — and often colorful — plant foods, can support proper immune balance and function.
Maya Feller, a dietitian and author of the forthcoming book “Eating From Our Roots,” is a fan of soup joumou. Native to Haitian cuisine, this dish is often made with squash, beef and assorted vegetables.
“Not only is it representative of my culture and heritage, it’s also rich in phytonutrients and fiber,” says Feller, whose approach to nutrition is to make food more inclusive and reflective of the diverse world we live in.
2. Vietnamese slow-cooked pho
Nutritionist and chef Tessa Nguyen’s dishes are inspired by ingredients that “have been fixtures around the table in many cultures and for many centuries,” such as star anise, cloves, Sichuan pepper and ginger.
Her go-to dish for immune support is a batch of slow-cooked pho. “It’s full of nourishing ingredients that fulfill the body’s needs any time of year, but especially during the colder months.”
Nguyen’s recipe is filled with ingredients that are beneficial for immune health, like fresh herbs, vegetables and meat protein.
3. Fragrant cauliflower, turmeric and ginger soup
Hazel Wallace, a nutritionist and founder of The Food Medic, recommends getting a balance of nutrients from anti-inflammatory foods like chickpeas and lentils, nuts and seeds, olive oil, fish and herbs and spices.
Her cauliflower soup recipe contains turmeric and ginger, both of which have anti-inflammatory properties. “It’s also incredibly warming and nourishing for the fall, or whenever you’re feeling under the weather,” she says.
4. A bright and vibrant defense smoothie
We all need a break from hot dishes, even during the colder months.
Nutritionist Simone Wilson’s go-to is a refreshing smoothie blend of banana, mango, hemp seeds, bee pollen, kale, orange juice, yogurt and kale.
“This simple recipe is high in antioxidants, including vitamins C and A, to help fight free radical damage and support the immune system,” she says.