Immune system boosters!

boost immune systmenIt’s that time of year again.  The weather is getting colder and damper… and for those of us who still have our warm coats and boots in storage, it’s time to do some digging.  Inevitably we’re all reaching for the immune system boosters… the echinacea, the elderberry, the zinc… whatever we’ve come to trust.

Here where I’m living, one day is warm and sunny and the next is cold and damp.  Not only is the weather fluctuating, but family rhythms of work or school, bedtimes, playdates and after school programs, are changing too.

Do you get run down in the fall?  Are you or your children sick a lot?  Are you tired?

The fall is a time of transition.  We are meant to slow down in the fall so that winter can be a “breathing in” time; a time for introversion and reflection, for calm and quiet.  But our lives don’t necessarily allow for that rhythm.  Instead, we ramp up our hectic schedules, we continue on at a crazy pace, we don’t allow our bodies to adapt to the new season.  This increases the stress on our body systems, wearing them down and making us more prone to illness.

It’s ok, though, because each time you recover from a cold your immune system is that much stronger.  You can feel good about that!

But do your colds linger? Do you become bedridden while you see your friends recovering in a day or two?  Do simple colds continually develop into secondary, more complicated infections?  These are signs that your immune system needs some attention.

Remember that stress is the number one immune suppressant (followed closely by sugar).  Stress is your body’s response to your perception of a situation.

I repeat… stress is a physiological response based on perception. 

If you change your perception, you change your body’s physiological response.

Meditate on that thought for a while.  It could, in fact, be the key to long term health and happiness. 🙂

Stress can be acute (like you were just in a car accident) or chronic (like you hate your boss but you can’t quit your job cause you need the money so you go back day after day).  But regardless, your body’s response is the same.  The same chemicals are released, the same pressure is put on your body systems.  Your immune system, in particular, suffers.

So take stalk of your stressors.  They are a significant, if silent, burden on your body.

Nourishing food is always essential in times of stress.  If you feel run down and need a boost, try this Immune Soup recipe, developed by one of my colleagues.  Each ingredient is an immune system booster  and it’s easy to digest so it provides quick nourishment.

Immune System Soup Recipe


  • 6 cups of filtered water
  • 4 cups of chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 3 cups fresh shitake mushrooms, washed and sliced
  • 4 cups sweet potato or butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • Half a bunch of finely chopped kale
  • 6 pieces of sliced dried astragalus root (optional)
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley
  • 2 tsp miso
  • ½ cup dried goji berries


  1. Sauté garlic, onions, and ginger until onions are translucent (about 15 minutes on low heat).
  2. Add the shitake mushrooms, and sauté lightly for about 30 seconds.
  3. Add the sweet potato or squash and the kale.
  4. Pour in the water, broth and the lemon juice and add the astragalus.
  5. Bring to a boil and lower to simmer.
  6. Cover with a lid and simmer for one hour.
  7. Remove from the heat and remove the pieces of astragalus.
  8. Take a small amount of the broth and mix in the miso.
  9. Add the miso mixture, and stir it through the soup.
  10. Add in the goji berries and the parsley.
  11. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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