Functional Foods.

Marie L. Veselsky, Licensed Registered Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator; Dustin Forrest, MSN, RN, Nurse Practitioner.

Functional Foods are foods that have a potentially positive effect on health beyond basic nutrition.

National nutrition guidelines stress the importance of consuming a wide variety of food.  Good old fashion oatmeal is an example of a functional food because it naturally contains soluble fiber that can help lower cholesterol levels. Spices are examples of functional foods. Spices have been used for centuries, not only to give food flavor, but also for their health benefits.  The spice Turmeric is a functional food because research shows it is naturally anti-inflammatory and a slight blood thinner.

Here are 12 Functional Foods that Boost Immunity!

  1. Yogurt – live active cultures found in yogurt help keep the GI tract free of disease causing germs.
  2. Oats and Barley – these grains contain beta-glucan, a type of fiber with antimicrobial and antioxidant capabilities.
  3. Garlic – this potent onion relative contains the active ingredient allicin which fights infection and bacteria.
  4. Shellfish – selenium, plentiful in shellfish such as oysters, lobsters, crabs and clams, helps white blood cells produce cytokines – proteins that help clear flu viruses out of the body. Salmon, mackerel, and herring are rich in Omega-3 fats which reduce inflammation.
  5. Chicken Soup – home made – can help you get over a cold sooner – the amino acid cysteine, released from chicken during cooking, may explain the results.
  6. Tea – people who drank 5 cups a day of black tea for 2 weeks had 10 times more virus-fighting interferon in their blood than others who drank a placebo hot drink in a Harvard study.
  7. Beef – zinc deficiency is one of the most common nutritional shortfalls among American adults, especially vegetarians. Zinc in your diet is very important for the development of white blood cells.
  8. Sweet Potatoes – for your skin to stay strong and healthy, your skin needs Vitamin A which sweet potatoes are known for.
  9. Mushrooms – our earliest ancestors ate a lot of mushrooms. For centuries people around the world have turned to mushrooms for a healthy immune system. Shiitake, Maitake, and Reishi mushrooms appear to pack the biggest immunity punch!
  10. Turmeric – a spice that has been found to be anti-inflammatory in general and is a slight blood thinner.
  11. Cinnamon – has anti-inflammatory and blood thinning properties. In one study 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon a day was found to lower blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol.
  12. Ginger – ginger’s most well-known medicinal use is as a digestive-aid to relieve stomach pain, nausea and diarrhea, but just like cinnamon and turmeric, it is also an anti-inflammatory.

And guess what?  All the above are food and are considered safe. As always if you are on any prescription medication check with your MD before adding anything new into your diet.  There can be food/drug, herb/drug interactions.

Integrated Optimal Health’s Choice Center for Nutrition and Choice Center for Diabetes & Weight Loss approach the patient as a whole for diabetes, weight loss and other chronic illnesses. We provide education on options, advocate healthier choices and provide access to programs needed to help each person better manage their own disease state and reach their optimal health.

Call 603-770-4856 in NH and 888-444-1204 in Maine!