Building Immunity

Long ago, fall was a time of preparedness before winter set in. Last minute repairs were made, wood was chopped, and the last of the summer crops were harvested. Root vegetables such as onions, garlic and potatoes were stored in cellars to provide for the long cold winter. Vegetables were pickled, and the last of the sweet summer fruits were canned and made into delicious jams. My parents both grew up in mountain villages in Greece, and I remember growing up here, we would pick the last of the tomatoes while they were still green and ferment them along with cabbage, peppers, and cauliflower (toursi). I only learned now about the health benefits of fermented foods and the profound effect they have on our immune system and gut microbiome. Eating sauerkraut for example has been shown to be far more powerful than taking a probiotic in pill form. Back then, villagers would take cues from mother nature and follow her lead.  She produces everything we need to strengthen our immunity in the fall in order to keep us strong and healthy all winter long.

Eating “seasonally” is the most natural way to eat. Back then they weren’t importing produce from around the world, they just picked what was available locally and ate it! Lets look around and see what’s in season now. Everywhere you look you see apples, onions, pumpkins, squash, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale, beets, and hearty greens. The allium and quercetin in the apples and onions, the beta-carotene in squash, the vitamin C in the cruciferous vegetables all play a big role in working to strengthen our immunity.  The combination of these nutrients also helps detoxify the body of carcinogens as well. Everything we need, Mother Nature has provided for us. Just as farmers look to their food “farmacy” so should we. It makes sense, doesn’t it?

Our goal now should be to try to incorporate as many fall harvest vegetables as we can in our meals. “Green up” your dinners by adding in a handful of dark leafy greens to soups and stews. Roast up some root vegetables such as carrots and beets (actually roasting anything will make it taste so much better)! Heck, cauliflower can be made into literally everything these days, even pizza! Adding extra garlic to everything has amazing health benefits as well because it is antibacterial and antiviral. Have an apple a day, hey, not a bad idea now that you know this, right?

Another culprit is sugar. Doctor’s offices have an influx of visits right after Halloween. Coincidence? Actually not. Sugar depresses your immune system and feeds the fungus in your body. This in turn, upsets your gut health and helps breed bacteria in the intestinal tract. Therefore, with a compromised digestive system, your immunity will be out of whack making you more susceptible to catching the latest virus going around more than ever! Eating fruit first thing in the morning is very detoxifying to the body, and it also stopped me from craving sweets the rest of the day, miraculous for me!

The days are getting shorter and that’s another queue to take from Mother Nature, SLEEP! We are a sleep-deprived nation compared to the rest of the world. Studies have been done proving that getting your good’ole eight hours of sleep a night lowers inflammation, which is a precursor to many diseases. Lack of sleep has also been proven to make you crave sweets and fatty food more, not good. Making it a point to get in your sleep will improve your immunity more than almost anything else you do, it’s THAT IMPORTANT!

I guess the old farmers knew a thing or two. By learning from them we can set ourselves up to have a healthy winter season. Stay cozy my friends!

“Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.”  Frank Lloyd Wright