Ask the Doctor is a monthly Q&A series written by the naturopathic doctors of the NaturoMedica Grand Ridge Plaza clinic.
Dear NaturoMedica Doctor,
Last year it seemed like one of us was sick at one time or another for the entire winter! Can you suggest some foods I might start including in our diet to help keep us healthy this year?
I can relate. Some years seem to be worse than others for illnesses in families, and it sounds like your family’s health was greatly affected last year. Eating organic, nutrient-rich foods that are low in sugar, in addition to hand washing and adequate rest, are great ways to keep you healthy all year long. Below are my tips for super charged foods you can add to your diet, plus a recipe for Super Immune Morning Oatmeal. I hope that your family will love these foods.
- Pumpkin seeds: In addition to being a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, protein and fiber, pumpkin seeds are loaded with immune-boosting zinc. Some kids snack on pumpkin seeds that are toasted and tossed with sea salt. If your little one isn’t a fan of toasted seeds, you might have to get creative by mixing them into muffin mix or pulverizing them in the blender and adding to oatmeal.
- Kefir: A cultured drinkable yogurt, it’s rich in healthy micro-organisms that keep your gastrointestinal system happy. The current estimate is that 70% of our immune health comes from the gut by defending the body against pathogens and producing antibodies. Eating cultured foods regularly is an important way to keep the good bugs plentiful.
- Berries: Berries are rich in vitamin C and anthocyanins, which give plants their rich pigment (the blue in blueberries, the green in green tea, and the red in apples). Anthocyanins are incredibly powerful phytochemicals that promote calm and reduce oxidative stress on the body. In addition to fresh organic whole berries, I recommend a concentrated berry syrup, such as the fruit anthocyanin syrup available at NaturoMedica that can be added to smoothies, pancakes, and oatmeal.
- Garlic: A wonder of nature, garlic is anti-bacterial, anti-fungal AND anti-viral. At NaturoMedica, we use garlic ear oil for mild ear infections, which in most cases allows us to avoid antibiotics. To support the body, I prefer to add garlic to foods rather than giving garlic pills, as garlic begins to lose potency once it is chopped. Try adding extra garlic to soups, mashed potatoes and pasta sauce, or make homemade garlic butter to slather on your favorite bread.
- Bone broth: It’s a little bit of a trick, because bone broth is not one food, but a broth that is made using vegetables and animal bones. Bone broth is rich in collagen, plus minerals like potassium, and amino acids that have been shown to boost the immune system and reduce inflammation. Bone broth has been used for centuries to aid the common cold and help people recover their strength after illness. My favorite recipe for bone broth is made in the Instant Pot. One version can be found on nomnompaleo.com. I have gotten in the habit of using bone broth as the base for soup and when cooking beans, and in rice dishes like risotto.
I hope these immune super foods help to keep you and your family healthy all winter long!
Dr. Lisa Wada
Dr. Wada’s Super Immune Morning Oatmeal
This simple yet powerful hot morning cereal is bursting with nutrients to keep the immune system strong.
Nuts and seeds sprinkle:
- ½ cup sliced raw almonds
- ½ cup raw pepitas
- ¼ cup raw sunflower seeds
- ¼ cup raw pecans
- 2 tbsp. chia seed
- 2 tbsp. raw sesame seeds
Set oven to 375 degrees. Mix all of the above ingredients in a bowl and spread on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 8 minutes, then cool. Store in a glass airtight container in the fridge as-is or make into a powder by running through a blender or Vitamix.
To make one serving of oatmeal:
- ½ cup organic oats
- 2 cups water
- 1 to 2 tbsp. date sugar
- 1 tsp. fruit anthocyanin syrup (available from NaturoMedica)
Boil 2 cups of water and pour enough over organic oats until fully saturated. Cover bowl and let sit for 5 minutes. Uncover and add sugar and berry syrup. Mix together with 1 to 2 tablespoons of nuts and seeds mixture.
Dr. Lisa Wada is a naturopathic physician at NaturoMedica, a full-service naturopathic medical clinic at Grand Ridge Plaza that is home to seven licensed naturopathic physicians. The clinic offers naturopathic healthcare, acupuncture and IV (intravenous) therapy. Visit naturomedica.com or call 425-557-8900 to learn more.
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