After a short break to welcome in Spring with my article on the Wood/Spring season of acupuncture's 5 Element theory, it’s time to continue our discussion on the immune system and how we can best take care of it using nutrition. (see recent blogs
for the complete series)
As those of you who have been following this series know, it was prompted out of my concern over the frequency of common colds that I see people, both in my acupuncture practice as well as in the general public, coming down with since I moved to this climate where our weather constantly changes.
If you haven’t been too pleased with the last couple week’s suggestions because you’re not big on dark leafy greens or mushrooms, then take heart, because practically everyone loves berries, and that is the food I will be focusing on this week.
Please don’t take this as a free-pass to avoid greens and mushrooms though! :-)
Because while no discussion on immunity would be complete without bringing up berries, their role has less to do with preventing common colds and more to do with cancer prevention. I am including them in this series simply because of their importance in overall immune function.
Also, while berries are the topic of today’s article, most that we grow in our region will still not be available for a few months, as is the case with fresh foods in general in this region.
When berries are ready, I’ll share a link to a great resource for going to pick your own organic berries at a fraction of the cost that you would usually pay, and these can then be purchased in bulk and frozen and dried for the following year.
In the meantime, based on my experience I’ve come to believe that in this climate, many people need to supplement during the colder months when nothing is growing so that we can continuously boost our immune systems–especially those who know they don’t do the best job at eating fresh foods even when they are in season.
For that info please check out next week’s article, which will give my recommendations for immune boosting supplements that we can all take during the months when fresh foods aren’t available and our immune systems are at their weakest.
After that, we’ll wrap up this discussion with one more article focusing on onions. At that point, get ready for my call out to those of you who have been dealing with constant common colds, to take this journey of immune boosting nutrition with me!
OK, let’s get down to the nitty gritty on berries. Acupuncture theory has long recognized the benefits of berries, especially for nourishing the blood and the liver.
I have written in past articles how important the liver is to good immunity, since the liver regulates stress and stress and immunity are so closely related. Also, one of the most important jobs of the liver is to keep our Qi flowing smoothly, and when this function is impaired, tissue can easily build up, forming tumors and other masses.
But here’s a little about what science has to say about berries:
- Berries contain very high levels of ellagic acid, which inhibits the formation of tumors, making them powerful anti-cancer foods.
- They combat inflammation by neutralizing enzymes that destroy connective tissue, making them an important food for auto-immune disorders.
- Some berries, such as cranberry, are well-known for their bacterial fighting abilities, due to their sugar D-mannose which simply binds to bacteria, preventing them from latching onto our tissues, making them an effective and proven treatment for urinary tract infections. The bacterium are prevented from sticking to the bladder, and they are easily flushed out with each urination.
- PubMed has stated that the flavones in berries have shown promise in acting against HIV.
The reports on the anti-oxidant health benefits of berries are endless. This is great news, because almost everyone likes the idea of adding more berries into their diets.
However, as stated above, what do we do when these foods are not available, and/or when for most of the time that we can get them, they’ve been shipped in from across the world and are way less nutritious due to their travel time?
While I don’t believe in supplementation as a crutch for poor nutrition, I do believe that careful supplementation of key nutrients can play a huge role in assisting our efforts at better immunity.
So while you’re waiting for next week’s article, why not get into the kitchen and try my simple, delicious recipe I’ve included in the next blog, which combines the foods I’ve been writing about in this series up to this week!