With cold and flu cases on the rise, you may be looking for ways to boost your immune system. But first, you need to understand your immune system and your limitations to making it bulletproof. Our immune system is a complex network of organs, cells, and proteins that defend the body against infections caused by germ (microbe) invaders. A healthy immune system records past intruders that it has successfully defeated. It will recognize and destroy the microbe faster and more efficiently the next time it enters your body. Super cool!
Everyone should want to take precautions within their control to keep a robust and responsive immune system. But beware, there is no magic pill, powder, or potion that will ensure an everlasting healthy defense. Like all barriers, it will weaken over time (as you age) and with low maintenance, and even the best defenses can have weak spots and down days. Your immune system is no different. But, regardless of your age or health status, there are simple, everyday things you can do to give your immune system a fighting chance.
As the weather gets colder, you tend to hydrate less. Leaving your skin dry, your energy low, and your immune system weaker. Drinking enough fluids each day can help you feel more energized and fight off infections. Hydration helps your body keep harmful bacteria out and helps your immune system work to its full potential. Plus, staying adequately hydrated supports your gut’s absorption of the nutrients you need to stay healthy.
If you need a hydration starting point, aim for half your body weight in water ounces or low-calorie, no-sugar-added beverages, such as unsweetened tea, sparkling water, and fruit-infused (not fruit juice-based) beverages. If letting go of sugar-based drinks like sweet tea or fruit juice is too much too soon, go easy with yourself and think half and half. Rotate a glass of water in for every sweetened beverage you drink to help balance it all out. Remember, less is more when it comes to sugar-sweetened beverages.
Sip smarter with milk. Milk packs 13 essential nutrients, including high-quality protein, natural electrolytes, and carbohydrates. Research shows milk keeps you hydrated for a longer time compared to many other drinks, including 100% juice, water, typical sports drinks, coffee, and tea. So start your day with a smoothie made with milk, add a glass of milk to a meal, or fuel up after a workout with chocolate milk.
Our sun up to sun down, jam-packed schedules keep our tension high and keep our immune system low. Your stressing over the flu isn’t helping. But let’s talk about more problematic stress to manage: anxiety and lack of sleep. No amount of water or vitamin C packets will override an overbooked, stressed-out, sleep-deprived person. It’s the truth.
Absolute rest and sleep strengthen your immune system, and studies show that people who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to get sick after exposure to a virus, such as the common cold. Moderate exercise can also enhance your immune system and ability to fall asleep faster. Try adding a 30-minute walk to your daily routine or stretching every few hours. Aim for 7-9 hours a night when possible and practice sleep-promoting habits like unplugging before bed and cutting out caffeine later in the day.
In addition to exercise, take a sledgehammer to your to-do list and try to carve out a little “me” time. Take a timeout from the stress of the day and sip a Warm Delta Chai YY Tea (recipe below). Natural teas are packed with immune-boosting antioxidants. And when paired with creamy, frothed milk, it’s the perfect way to relax and unwind.
Eat Wholesome Foods
It seems straightforward, but how often are we forgoing good nutrition for convenient food options? Sure, you could take a vitamin C supplement, but you would be missing out on all the other immune-boosting nutrients found in whole foods like vitamin A, vitamin D, zinc, selenium, and protein, to name a few. Cook with spices like ginger and turmeric, and sweeten things with honey, which may enhance immunity.
Flu season is also soup season. Get all your immune-boosting properties, plus the bonus of staying hydrated, with vegetable, chicken noodle, or roasted red pepper and tomato soup (recipe below)—roast fall and winter vegetables on a sheet pan for an easy immune-boosting side dish. Remember the health benefits of Mississippi seafood, pork, and beef, which are all great sources of protective proteins and zinc.
Actively caring for your body and health is your best line of defense, but it doesn’t need to be complicated. Remember to stay hydrated, focus on self-care, and include simple, wholesome foods in your diet, and wash your hands, too!
Warm Delta Chai YazooYaupon Tea
- Brew 1 bag of Delta Chai YY tea with 10-12 oz 200 degree C water for 5 min covered
- Warm 1/4 cup Almond Milk WITH 1 Tbsp Almond creamer (or milk of choice)
- Whisk the milk mixture in 5 oz cup of tea with a nice dollop of Honey
**Recipe can also be made with YazooYaupon Delta Peach and Christmas flavors.
Mango Protein Smoothie
- 1 6-ounce container Greek yogurt
- 3⁄4 cup milk
- 1 cup mango pieces frozen
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 tsp turmeric fresh grated
- 1⁄4 tsp ginger fresh grated
- Combine yogurt, milk, mango and remaining ingredients in blender. Blend until smooth. Serve immediately.
Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- Kosher salt to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 tablespoon dried or fresh thyme leaves
- 1 (15-ounce) jar roasted red peppers, drained
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 1 (5-ounce) container plain Greek yogurt
- 1⁄2 cup half-and-half
- 1⁄2 cup Parmesan cheese, shaved, plus more for garnishing
- Heat butter and olive oil in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions, carrots and celery, and sauté 10 minutes or until tender. Add garlic and sauté until just fragrant. Season with salt and pepper. Add tomato paste, paprika, cumin and thyme and cook 2 more minutes.
- Add drained red peppers, tomatoes, and chicken broth. Let simmer 25 minutes or until vegetables are tender and flavors have melded together. Add more salt and pepper if needed. Using either a hand-held immersion blender or regular blender, puree until smooth. Add Greek yogurt, half-and-half and Parmesan cheese. Stir until combined and let simmer for another 10 minutes.
- Serve in soup bowls and top with shaved Parmesan cheese.