What do ginger, mushrooms and yogurt have in common?  They are foods with immune health properties. With cold and flu season wrapping up for the year, why not give your immune system the 1-2-3 combination to keep up the fight!

Ginger

Ginger, also known as ginger root is found underground as part of the rhizome of the plant. A recent study found that fresh ginger effectively protected against a flu like virus (human respiratory syncytial virus or HRSV) that affect many children and elderly worldwide (1). The study found fresh ginger blocked viral attachment as well as internalization of the virus.

Mushrooms

There are many different types of edible mushrooms including
Portobello, enoki, oyster and shiitake. Mushrooms are touted for their great health benefits. Although the exact mechanism of action of mushrooms on the human immune system is not known, it is hypothesized that fibres such as beta-glucans, the polysaccharides and other components (vitamin D) work to increase the host immune system (2). Consumption of mushrooms may activate immune helper components in the body effectively improving the immune system (2).

Yogurt

Yogurt is becoming more of an everyday food and less of a ‘diet’ food in Canada (it is about time!!!). A dairy product that is produced by the bacterial fermentation of milk, yogurt can be consumed on its own, used in various recipes (for both cooking and baking) or in combination with other foods. One of its lesser known health benefits is its impact on the immune system. A study that examined the effects of two different types of yogurt on respiratory tract infections found that both yogurts improved the recruitment and activation of immune helper cells (phagocytes) in the respiratory tract (3). Yogurt has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects as well (4).

How to add the 1-2-3 knockout punch

In addition to your balanced nutrition and fitness strategy, here are a few suggestions to add ginger, mushrooms and yogurt to your meals and snacks.

Ginger

  • Can be used in teas and other juices.
  • Is delicious fresh and minced in stir-fries.
  • Dried – goes well in salad dressings.

Mushrooms

  • Can be sliced and served cold with or without a healthy yogurt –ginger dip.
  • Roasted, seasoned and/or grilled  for extra flavour warm.
  • Are easily added to your favourite omelette, pizza and soup.

Yogurt

  • Is a great ingredient for dips and sauces for fruit, vegetables and pasta.
  • Can be added to tuna for a delicious, tangy sandwich filling.
  • Is good as a topping on baked potatoes

Recipe – Ginger yogurt sauce

Try dipping mushrooms (and other fruits and vegetables) in this quick and easy Ginger Yogurt Sauce from marthastewart.com

Keep up the fight, stay well and enjoy!

 

References

1. Chang JS et al. Fresh ginger (Zingiber officinale) has anti-viral activity against human respiratory syncytial virus in human respiratory tract cell lines. J Ethnopharmacol. 2013; 145(1):146-51.

2. Wasser SP. Current findings, future trends, and unsolved problems in studies of medicinal mushrooms. Applied Microbiology Biotechnology. 2011; 89:1323-1332.

3. Racedo et al. Influence of yogurt consumption on the respiratory immune response. Food and Agriculture Immunology. 2008; 20(3):231-244.

4. Chaves  S, Perdigon G, De LeBlanc AD. Yoghurt Consumption Regulates the Immune Cells Implicated in Acute Intestinal Inflammation and Prevents the Recurrence of the Inflammatory Process in a Mouse Model. Journal of Food Protection. 2011; 74(5):801-811.