Double Your Defenses with Your Diet

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Even though the back to school season often coincides with colds and flu season, it doesn’t mean your kids are destined to be ill during the next few months. If they’ve been following a Phase One or Two diet, chances are they’re already in better health and sporting stronger immune systems than many of their peers.

 

 

Many of the foods on the Phase One diet contribute to strengthening the immune system. For many of us, yogurt is on the menu at some point most days. The probiotics in yogurt protect your intestinal tract from germs that try to invade it, and also help to build your white blood count for a generally stronger immune system.

Omega-3 fatty acids which fight inflammation, can help to protect the lungs from infection. Try adding just a half teaspoon of flax oil to some plain yogurt and frozen strawberries (berries are also loaded with anti-oxidants) with a splash of unsweetened almond milk, and a bit of stevia if desired. Give it a quick whir in the blender, and your children will have a healthy breakfast or snack that will help their little bodies be prepared for the germs they’ll no doubt be exposed to. 

Salmon, herring and mackerel are also good sources of omega-3’s. Canned salmon, mixed with some chopped celery and fresh dill and a bit of Greek yogurt and packed in a lunch box with some Phase One crackers and/or cut up fresh vegetables (the more colorful the better in terms of anti-oxidant content—think sweet red bell peppers and carrots) and you’ll be providing them with a lunch that is both yummy and health enhancing.

Foods rich in Vitamin A can help to strengthen the respiratory system. Salads can be a good source of vitamin A, especially with the addition of other colorful vegetables. Remember when serving salads to your family, the darker leafy greens are always more nutritious than the paler varieties like iceberg. Again, more color = more nutrition. If your kids like kale, use the larger leaves as a “wrap” for turkey and cucumbers with some diced tomatoes. Or entice them with kale chips! (Fresh kale leaves, washed, dried and tossed in olive oil, seasoned with a little salt and perhaps garlic powder and/or smoked paprika and baked at 275° for about 20 minutes, flipping leaves over about half way through.)

Of course, we all know what a superstar Vitamin C is when it comes to fighting infection. It increases the body’s number of white blood cells and antibodies, helping to ward off viral infections. Vitamin C supplements are one way to boost your intake of this invaluable nutrient, but getting “the real thing” is always a good idea as well. Grapefruit are available year round, and allowable on the Phase One diet. Or, make a diluted version of a Phase One lemonade, just enough to flavor some water, and keep a large bottle in the refrigerator, or send it off to school in a thermos. I use 2 ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice and a little stevia to a quart of water. (I like it tart!) In addition to hydrating your body and supplementing your intake of Vitamin C, it also helps to alkalinize the system, as counterintuitive as that may seem. There is some evidence that a more alkaline system is less hospitable to the growth or bacteria and other pathogens.

Bottom line is this: Following the basic guidelines of Phase One is a great defense against the upcoming colds and flu season. But if you or your family members should succumb to either, there’s always good ol’ Chicken Soup! While there is much debate as to whether or not it can actually cure illness (and my family would be on the side of those testifying that it definitely can!) at the very least it can provide a hot, comforting meal, along with needed hydration. Here’s one to try!

Good Ol’ Chicken Soup

2 Tablespoons olive oil 
1/2 cup chopped onions 
1/2 cup chopped celery 
1/2 cup chopped tomato 
1/2 cup chopped parsnips (optional) 
32 ounces chicken stock, preferably homemade 
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces 
1/2 cup chopped parsley 

Heat oil in a pot over medium heat. Add vegetables and cook over medium heat until tender, 8-10 minutes. Add stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and add chicken pieces. Cook gently until chicken is done about 18 minutes. Add parsley and serve.

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