It’s the middle of winter here in the Northern Hemisphere, and colds, the flu, and various other respiratory illnesses are surely gathering momentum. To avoid getting sick this winter (or any time), it’s important to eat foods that build up your “armor” against illness by boosting your immune system.
And if those foods also build your bones, like the three Foundation Foods we’re going to look at today, it’s a win-win. Despite their humble nature, all three are powerful immune-strengtheners and bone-builders. And today you’ll also get three easy-to-prepare delicious recipes that feature them.
Let’s begin with…
My refrigerator is always well-stocked with organic lemons. They have so many uses, and since they are organic, I can use the zest as well. Whether you’re making bone-healthy lemonade or just enjoying a squeeze of lemon over a fish dinner, these tangy fruits are remarkable at preserving immune integrity and fortifying bone.
Lemons’ nutritional profile includes Vitamin C and folate, and they really shine with regard to certain phytonutrients.
First, Vitamin C is a vitally important antioxidant. It neutralizes free radicals both inside and outside your body’s cells, preventing oxidative damage that can deteriorate bones and cause widespread inflammation.
Vitamin C’s enhancing effect on the immune system is well known – it is “the” cold and flu vitamin, and for good reason.
According to a 2005 study:
“Supplementation of vitamin C was found to improve components of the human immune system such as antimicrobial and natural killer cell activities,” and “Vitamin C contributes to maintaining the redox integrity of cells and thereby protects them against reactive oxygen species generated during the respiratory burst and in the inflammatory response.”1
In addition to Vitamin C, lemons contain flavonol glycosides, plant compounds that have antibiotic effects. Their juice has been found to be effective against cholera, and they can actually influence cell division and death. In addition, lemon juice favorably alters the activities of monocytes, special immune cells.
At the opposite end of the spectrum from the sunny lemon, we’re going to look down at the shady ground for our next food.
Eaten raw or cooked, alkalizing mushrooms are delicious in salads and stir-fries. Most varieties have a mild, earthy flavor that easily takes on the characteristic of whatever seasoning or sauce it is cooked in. Regardless of the variety, all mushrooms have bone-healthy nutrients and boost immunity.
For one thing, mushrooms are the only non-animal source of Vitamin D – or more correctly, of a Vitamin D precursor called ergosterol. In addition, mushrooms contain bone-building supplements copper, zinc, potassium, riboflavin, Vitamin B5, and selenium.
Mushrooms also heighten the immune response. A 2015 study looked at the immune-boosting properties of shiitake mushrooms in particular.2 Participants ate one 4-ounce serving of shiitakes a day for four weeks, and at the end of the study, researchers observed improved function of gamma delta T-cells and less inflammatory proteins.
Gamma delta T-cells are found in various places in the body, most notably the mucous membranes, where they initiate and propagate the immune system’s response.
In other words, these cells act as guards and messengers, and the more you have, the better protected you are against illnesses like colds and flu.
The last food we’re going to look at is…
Garlic’s reputation as a food to ward off undesirable diseases goes back generations. A truly ancient root vegetable, its first recorded use goes all the way back to the time of the Egyptians.
Its ability to ward of germs was recognized before germs themselves – back in the 1700s, gravediggers would crush garlic and mix it with wine in hopes that the concoction would prevent them from getting the deadly plague.
Garlic was used in wound dressings in both the first and second world wars, and was eaten by soldiers to prevent gangrene from developing in wounds.
Two important studies point to garlic’s immune-boosting qualities. One is from 2001, where participants took garlic supplements or a placebo for a total of 12 weeks from November through February. The garlic group had fewer colds than the placebo group, and when some in the garlic group did get colds, they were of shorter duration.3
The second study was done on cancer patients, whose immune activity showed marked improvement after taking garlic extract for a period of six months.4 This is particularly significant, because the immune systems of cancer patients tend to be compromised.
Garlic is also good for bones. It’s an alkalizing, anti-inflammatory Foundation Food full of bone-nourishing nutrients, notably zinc, manganese, Vitamin B6, and Vitamin C.
Garlic also has been shown to have potent antioxidant activity, with scientists concluding in a 2009 study that garlic is able to trap damaging free radicals called peroxyl-radicals, especially when the active component in the garlic, allicin, is somewhat decomposed, as in aged garlic.5
In addition, garlic acts as a pre-biotic, nourishing healthy gut flora.
It seems that a garlic-mushroom stir-fry with a glass of bone-smart lemonade is in order this winter! There are many other delicious ways to enjoy these foods as well.
Hungry For More Ideas? Try These Recipes!
Following are three scrumptious recipes featuring lemons, mushrooms and garlic (they’re full of other bone-smart ingredients as well). Please note that in all of these recipes, the lemon juice is added cold to avoid heat damage to the Vitamin C. As always, fresh lemon juice is best.
Bright and flavorful, this creamy pasta dish is a probiotic-rich, nutritious version of fettuccine.
- 4 teaspoons lemon zest
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh basil (or 1 teaspoon dried)
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 6 ounces uncooked gluten-free fettuccine
- 8 ounces of your favorite mushrooms, sliced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons fresh parsley, minced (or 1 teaspoon dried)
- Sea salt and pepper to taste
- Cook fettuccine according to the directions on the package.
- Mix together 3 teaspoons of zest, parsley, and garlic in a small bowl.
- To make the sauce, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and stir-fry the onion for about 2 minutes (until tender).
- Stir in the garlic and lemon zest, and cook for about one more minute.
- Remove mixture from heat and allow it to cool to lukewarm.
- When cool, add the yogurt and lemon juice and stir thoroughly.
- Add the fettuccine, tomatoes, and parsley to the sauce, stirring to combine well. Add the salt and pepper if you’re using them, and sprinkle on the remaining 1 teaspoon of lemon zest.
Quinoa Mushroom Salad
This flavorful salad has a nutty crunch and bright, citrus flavor.
- 1 cup quinoa, cooked
- 4 large handfuls of fresh arugula (UK Savers know this as rocket)
- 10 ounces mushrooms, sliced in half
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon almonds, slivered
- Fresh lemon juice to taste
- Sea salt and pepper to taste
- Place the arugula and quinoa in a large bowl and set aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms cook until brown (about 10 minutes), stirring minimally. Turn down the heat if necessary.
- When mushrooms are brown, stir in garlic and sauté for just one minute before stirring in salt and pepper (if using).
- Pour mushroom mixture over the arugula and quinoa, scraping the browned bits from the skillet and adding them to the salad.
- Drizzle lemon juice over the salad, and sprinkle slivered almonds over the top.
Sensational Spaghetti Squash
Spaghetti squash is an excellent alkalizing alternative to grain-based pasta.
- 1 spaghetti squash, about 4 pounds
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon lemon peel
- 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
- Sea salt and black pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
- 1/2 cup tahini
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. With a sharp knife, cut the squash in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds and place the squash halves cut-side-down in a shallow baking dish. Pour water into the dish about halfway up the sides, and roast for 45 minutes. Squash should be fork-tender.
- Allow squash to cool for about 10 minutes.
- While the squash is cooling, sauté the garlic briefly in one tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Stir in the lemon zest, remaining olive oil, fresh lemon juice, and salt and pepper. Whisk to combine, and bring to a gentle simmer. Allow sauce to simmer for two or three minutes, and then remove from heat and whisk in the basil and tahini.
- Pick up the squash halves and turn them cut-side-up. Loosen the spaghetti-like strands with a fork, and use a serving spoon to scoop them into a large bowl.
- Pour the sauce over the squash and toss well to combine. Top with the pine nuts.
It’s comforting to consider that these recipes are not just delicious and creative, but they also include Foundation Foods and Foundation Supplements that actively build immunity while rejuvenating your bones.
Foundation Foods Offer Multiple Benefits
This is an excellent example of how all body systems benefit when you take steps to live a bone-healthy lifestyle, including adopting a pH-balanced diet. That is one reason why Bone Appétit is so much more than just a cookbook for your bones. Although its 200+ recipes are chock-full of bone-building nutrients, Bone Appétit contains recipes that offer all the benefits of a pH-balanced diet: decreased inflammation, stabilized weight, enhanced immunity, more energy, and much, much more.
Eating right for your bones means eating right for your whole body!
Eat Your Way to Stronger Bones!
Discover over 200 mouth-watering bone healthy recipes for breakfast, smoothies, appetizers, soups, salads, vegetarian dishes, fish, and plenty of main courses and even desserts!
Till next time,
1 Wintergest, E.S., Maggini, S., and Hornig, D.H. “Immune-enhancing role of vitamin C and zinc and effect on clinical conditions.” Ann Nutr Metab. 2006. 50(2): 85-94. Web. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16373990
2 Xiaoshuang Dai, Joy M. Stanilka, Cheryl A. Rowe, Elizabethe A. Esteves, Carmelo Nieves, Samuel J. Spaiser, Mary C. Christman, Bobbi Langkamp-Henken, Susan S. Percival. ConsumingLentinula edodes(Shiitake) Mushrooms Daily Improves Human Immunity: A Randomized Dietary Intervention in Healthy Young Adults. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 2015; 1 DOI: 10.1080/07315724.2014.950391
3 Josling P. Preventing the common cold with a garlic supplement: a double blind, placebo-controlled survey. Adv Ther. 2001;18(4):189-193.
4 Schafer G, Kaschula CH. The immunomodulation and anti-inflammatory effects of garlic oranosulfur comounds in cancer chemoprevention. Anticancer Agents Med Chem. 2014;14(2):233-40.
5 Vaidya, V, et al. “Garlic: Source of the Ultimate Antioxidants – Sulfenic Acids.” Angewandte Chemie International Edition. 2009. Vol 48, iss 1, pp 157-160.