Learn how to boost your immune system naturally with these favorite fall foods. Links to recipes, like slow cooker chicken broth, and research to support how food can boost immunity naturally!
As soon as the calendar flips to September each year, it seems that we collectively turn our affections to autumn.
We can’t help it! Even before the weather starts to change, we see pumpkin flavored everything and Halloween costumes on the store shelves.
What’s interesting, though, is the foods we tend to crave around the fall and winter, are also super important to helping our bodies stay healthy!
Right after fall festivities is cold and flu season. Having a healthy immune system BEFORE the germs strike reduces the duration of illnesses and can help you fend it off before you show symptoms!
Using food to boost your body’s natural immune response not only makes you healthier, but it also gives you more bang for your buck. In-season fruits and vegetables are always less expensive than out of season.
Natural Foods to Boost Immune System: Chili
What’s the first requested meal at my house once a chill hits the air? Chili!
Chili is loaded with all sorts of beneficial ingredients that offer immunity support:
- Tomatoes – high in Lycopene, which is an antioxidant that helps fight disease
- Onions – anti-inflammatory and antibacterial
- Garlic – high in antioxidants, antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal
- Bell pepper – high in beta-carotene, which is converted to Vitamin A
- Cilantro – antioxidant and antimicrobial
Strengthen Your Immune System with Soups and Stews
There’s just something about a hot bowl of soup or stew on a dark autumn night. Grandma’s instructions to load up on chicken noodle soup when you catch a cold is spot on.
Make your soups and stews with homemade bone broth and load them with colorful veggies. The bone broth contains B vitamins in the marrow, magnesium, and zinc. Fall vegetables such as leafy greens or bright orange carrots have A and B Vitamins.
Hot soup keeps the body well-hydrated, which helps with delivering electrolyte minerals throughout the body. It also helps keep nasal mucus thin and clear, which protects us from inhaling viruses and bacteria.
Add extra herbs like rosemary, thyme, and oregano, give you antiviral and antibacterial protection. Adding ginger to your soup is great for inflammation.
The good news is that dried herbs can be used in soups and stews with success!
A UCLA School of Medicine study found that these popular herbs and spices retained their antioxidants during the drying process: cilantro, basil, dill, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, oregano, and parsley.
The researchers further concluded that dried herbs do contribute significant antioxidant compounds to the diet. So, go ahead and stock the pantry with dried herbs and spices and use them liberally in all your recipes.
Here are some delicious natural immune boosting soups:
- Leftover Pork and Potato Soup
- Instant Pot White Bean Soup with Sausage and Kale
- Instant Pot Chicken Noodle Soup
- Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Soup
- Kung Fu Panda Soup
- Red Lentil Vegetable Soup
- Northern Beans and Ham Soup
Fruits that Boost Immune System: Apples
Apple orchards are busy this time of year as many offer pick your own apple sessions. Apples ripen in the autumn, so it’s a perfect time to enjoy them raw or cooked. Make your own homemade applesauce, apple crisp, apple pie, or even baked apples.
- Apples are high in soluble fiber, which helps reduce inflammation
- Cinnamon is delicious mixed in apple recipes. Cinnamon is anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory.
Some of our favorite apple recipes and posts:
- Homemade Applesauce (and step-by-step tutorial for canning applesauce)
- Overnight Apple Pie Refrigerator Oatmeal
- 10 Tips for Apple Picking with Kids
- Homemade Apple Crumble Ice Cream
- Homemade Apple Cider Vinegar (using peels and cores)
- Oatmeal Apple Breakfast Bars
- Vanilla Cheesecake Baked Apples
- Slab Apple Pie
- How to Dehydrate Apples
- Slow Cooker Apple Butter
The Fall Favorite Natural Immune Booster: Pumpkin
Packed with health benefits, pumpkin offers more than the inspiration for a flavored coffee drink. Yes – you’ll see pumpkin flavored everything in the grocery stores and some restaurants this year. But don’t let that tempt you to forsake the real thing.
Pumpkin is rich in many anti-oxidant vitamins, such as Vitamins A, C, and E. Once you’ve carved a pumpkin or used the shell for decoration, make sure you save the seeds. Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of dietary fiber and a concentrated source of protein, minerals, and vitamins. This time of year, whole pumpkins are inexpensive and offer an incredible value when a recipe calls for pumpkin.
Here’s how you can make your own pumpkin puree for any of these favorite pumpkin recipes.
- Classic Pumpkin Bread
- Pumpkin Pie Hummus
- Overnight Pumpkin French Toast Casserole
- Pumpkin Spiced Creamer
- Pumpkin Swirl Black Bean Brownies
- Healthy Pumpkin Donuts
- Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
The classic flavor of pumpkin treats really comes from the pumpkin pie spice. If you make your own using this recipe, you can avoid the high dollar spice mix at the grocery store!
None of us can escape all the bugs floating around in winter. The common cold doesn’t have to be common and infectious diseases can be fought off with strong immune function. So give your white blood cells a great boost this fall, by simply choosing to eat a variety of whole foods, herbs, and spices.
Thankfully, that’s easy to do with seasonal favorites including chili, pumpkin bread, and applesauce!
How do you boost your immune system in the fall?