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Give Your Immune System a Fighting Chance

I love spending time in my vegetable garden – the smell of fresh mint, vibrant colors of sweet baby peppers, grape tomatoes juicy enough to eat from the vine, and a bounty of herbs that add flavor, texture, and healing to all my favorite recipes. It is my way to escape everyday life for a breath of fresh air.

Several years ago I was disappointed with a sub-par crop. I thought I was doing everything right. My garden was in a sunny location with well draining soil, protected from the wind, and good quality seeds and plants were used from the very start. I made sure I tilled and rotated my crops every year. What was I doing wrong?  

I figured the best way to find this answer was to test the soil. The results? I found that my garden was too acidic, unbalanced in nitrogen and phosphorous, and lacking potassium. I put my garden on a treatment plan – lime, organic manure, and balanced fertilizer became the foundation and part of my soil preparation routine each year. Keeping everything balanced creates an environment for health and prosperity.

Our COVID 19 pandemic has me curious as to how I can best support my immune system. I noticed that my gardening experience paralleled so much of our own health. Like my garden, our bodies strive for thriving and healthy systems.

I amended my soil with a balanced diet, and our own health is no different. By amending our diets to include a variety of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals we can gear up our immune systems to better fight off infection. Here are some ways to achieve a better balanced system:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids decrease inflammation and help activate immune cells (fish, walnuts, flax and chia seeds). 
  • Probiotics modulate the immune response and can decrease the risk of respiratory infections (yogurt, sauerkraut, miso, and kombucha).
  • Quercetin helps decrease the severity of upper respiratory tract infections (onions, broccoli, kale, tea, berries, and apples). 
  • Vitamin C helps prevent respiratory tract infections (citrus fruit, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts). 
  • Vitamin D may enhance an anti-bacteria effect (fish, beef, and eggs). 
  • Zinc is required to activate certain immune cells (seafood, beef, pork, chicken, chickpeas, and cashews). 
  • Wild mushrooms are powerhouses, providing good sources of vitamin B, C, D, and E, to help improve immune function.
  • Legumes (beans and lentils) are loaded with fiber, protein, vitamin B, K, and iron. Fiber promotes the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut which helps turn up the immune response. 
  • Whole grains (brown rice, barley, and oats) are all rich in Vitamin B, E, and minerals like zinc, all supporting the immune system. Whole grains differ from common refined grains and include all three parts of the grain, which is loaded with nutrients.

The typical standard American diet is high in unhealthy fats, sugar, and sodium, and is linked to a sluggish immune system. By amending your diet you can help keep your system balanced. Make sure your “soil preparation” gives your immune system a fighting chance. 

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