Five Fall Foods to Foster Immunity AND Beauty!
Autumn is a particularly important time to consume “seasonal and local nutrients”. It is the time of year when our bodies begin to slow down and build up immunity for the oncoming winter. Foods symbolic of autumn help us build immunity, strength and gently detoxify. Additionally, these foods are high in specific nutrients such as Vitamin C and Beta-carotene that not only support immunity but also enhance the health of our skin and hair and prevent premature aging and wrinkles. It is perfect time for these fortifying AND beautifying nutrients after a summer of longer hours of sun exposure and as the air becomes colder and drier in the colder months.
These are some of my favorite fall foods to foster immunity and beauty from the inside out this autumn.
#1 – The Yam
Yams are one of nature's unsurpassed sources of beta-carotene which is a powerful antioxidant and can be converted into Vitamin A. Vitamin A is essential for optimal immunity, fighting viruses and collagen production for smooth, healthy skin and hair.
Tip: Yams are delicious baked whole. After they are cooked, cut in half and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 to 2 teaspoons of coconut oil and sprinkle with cinnamon and a dash of sea salt.
#2 - Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts support the body in a variety of ways including, the body's detox system, its antioxidant system, immune system and inflammatory/anti-inflammatory regulation. These factors combined with an extremely high level of Vitamin C make Brussels Sprouts a powerhouse to help the body fight free radical damage to collagen and promote clear, smooth skin.
Tip: Cut into ½ or quarters and steam for approximately 5 minutes or until slightly soft. Drizzle with olive oil and a dash of sea salt and black pepper.
#3 – Pumpkin
Much like the yam, pumpkin is packed with nutrients. It is not only high in carotenoids but also vitamin C, manganese and five B-complex vitamins. To top it off, these beauties also contain anti-inflammatory Omega 3 fatty acids. These nutrients all support collagen repair and formation, giving you smooth skin with a healthy glow.
Tip – Cut into 1-inch cubes and steam until soft. Or bake the entire pumpkin at 400 degrees for about 30-45 minutes (depending on size) until soft. Then cut into desired portion (1/4-1/2 cup) and drizzle with olive oil and a dash of cinnamon and sea salt.
Pumpkin Facial Mask Recipe:
- 2 teaspoons cooked or canned pumpkin, pureed
- one-half teaspoon honey
- one-quarter teaspoon milk (or coconut milk if you have a dairy allergy)
Combine all ingredients. Mix gently and apply to your face avoiding the eye area. Rest and relax for 10-15 minutes while your pumpkin pie facemask gently exfoliates, nourishes and conditions your face. Rinse with warm water.
Pumpkin is loaded with beta-carotene, zinc, vitamins, C, E and A. Vitamin A is the main ingredient found in retinol which promotes anti-aging benefits. The addition of cinnamon not only gives this mask anti-fungal and antibacterial properties, but it is great for revving up the circulation.
#4 - Artichokes
A study done by the USDA found that artichokes have more antioxidants than any other vegetable. Antioxidants protect our skin from free radical damage that lead to wrinkles. A medium artichoke has more fiber than a cup of prunes!
Tip – Cut top off of artichoke and steam for 20-30 minutes or until leaves become loose. Then dip leaves and artichoke heart in garlic infused olive oil.
Take time this autumn to enjoy these fabulous foods of fall. They are delicious and nourishing. With every bite, you know you will be doing your body good and fostering your natural immunity AND beauty from the inside out.
#5 Butternut Squash
Butternut squash is loaded with Beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is a considered fat soluble compound PLUS an antioxidant. As an antioxidant, it helps to protect the body from free radicals. Free radicals have the potential to damage cells and can result in chronic illness. Lastly beta-carotene can be converted into vitamin A, which is SUPER cool! Vitamin A is supportive of vision and eye health, immune system, and for healthy skin and mucous membranes.
Butternut squash is also a good source of vitamin E, thiamin, niacin, vitamin B-6, folate, pantothenic acid, and manganese. A cup of cubed butternut squash also provides 582 mg of potassium, more than the amount available in a banana!
Tip – Pop a full, rinsed butternut squash into the oven at 450. Let it cook approximately 40min – 1hour (depending on size). Its ready when you can puncture it easily. Then remove from over, slice into pieces (or mash it up) and mix with coconut oil, cinnamon and sea salt. YUM-OH!
Sarah Reilly is a Clinical Nutritionist and owner of Get Nourished; a virtual nutrition company that serves clients globally. She helps burnt out business leaders who struggle with feeling fat, bloated, achy and tired get to the root cause of what is driving those annoying symptoms so they can finally feel lean, light, energetic, clear and turned back on in life AND mission again! She combines the principles of Holistic Nutrition and Functional Medicine in her customized approach for each client to achieve lasting, positive results. Welcome to Get Nourished!