Cristina Curp’s Recipes for a Powerful Immune System
Remove the Stressor, Support the System: A Two-Fold Approach for a Powerful Immune System
Eating real, nutrient dense foods is always important for overall health. From more energy and mood to reversing symptoms of chronic disease, what you eat has a powerful impact on your quality of life. More than ever, we are all seeking to optimize our health and, more specifically, our immune system. So, how do we eat to be resilient humans?
When it comes to supporting your immune system, there I have a simple two-fold approach. Start with nutrient density, giving your body all the necessary nutrients that your body needs to operate optimally. Step two is to remove the stressors, and I’m not talking about your boss (although they may apply, too). All day, every day your immune system is distinguishing between you and the world around you, asking “is this me?”. When you have impaired digestions (like most people do), large food particles and pathogens are making it to your gut and through your intestinal wall and into your blood stream, setting off your body’s immune system and inflammatory response all the time.
Eliminating foods causing this inflammatory response, as well as eating foods that support a healthy intestinal barrier and probiotic rich foods all work synergistically to keep you healthy. Research shows that even a change in a single bacterial species within the gut can have a drastic impact on host immunity and pathology (source). While staying at home, layered with heightened anxiety, might have you reaching for some comfort foods, you might want to rethink that! This study proposed that chronic activation of the innate immune system could be regarded as a possible risk factor in the development of obesity and its associated inflammation. Sugar has also been shown to suppress the immune cells that fight bacteria, this happens immediately after consuming high sugar foods.
Start by consuming lots of colorful vegetables and low sugar fruits, rich in antioxidants. While our body has some powerful intercellular antioxidants (like glutathione) we can help it along by consuming antioxidant-rich foods like those high in Vitamin C! Other than being a powerful antioxidant, vitamin C also has antiviral and antibacterial effects. It also supports your adrenal glands and can help reduce stress. Foods rich in sulfur compounds like broccoli, cauliflower and asparagus. Foods rich in sulforaphane boost glutathione production in the body. The immune system works best if the lymphoid cells have balanced levels of glutathione (source). Glutathione is a powerful intracellular antioxidant that has protective benefits to your immune cells.
Get sun every day, whether it’s going for a walk or laying out in your yard! If you can’t go outside at all eating foods like salmon, tuna, egg yolks and mushrooms can increase Vitamin D. Vitamin D can modulate the innate and adaptive immune responses, a deficiency of vitamin D is associated with increased autoimmunity and a susceptibility to infection (source).
Omega-3 fatty acids can decrease cytokine levels which are secreted by the immune system cells, and they regulate and mediate immunity and inflammation (source) Cytokine storms are associated with a wide variety of infectious and noninfectious diseases as well as respiratory disease (source). Polyunsaturated fat omega-3 are imperative in having a healthy inflammatory response, support brain health and hormone health, too. Great food sources of omega-3 fatty acids include sardines, smoked oysters and salmon (great pantry staple items!).
Make soup! Specifically, with bone broth! The original healing food, bone broth is rich in L-glutamine, an amino acid which can boost immune cell activity in the gut, and also strengthens gut barrier integrity by soothing the intestinal tissue. Soups also freeze and reheat well, perfect for making ingredients go a little further.
On the next pages find some recipes that are low in sugar and inflammatory foods and rich in immune supporting nutrients so that you can stay healthy and ready for whatever comes at you!
These recipes are from my book Made Whole Made Simple, a delicious guide to support the foundations of health and eating to live your best life!
> Cristina Curp, NTP, is the author of best-selling cookbooks:
and Made Whole Made Simple