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Protective and Harmful Foods Against the Flu

(Flu Series Post 3)

Food – Our Medicine or Our Poison


Your diet has profound effects on immune function and your ability to ward off colds and flu. Supplying your cells with the full array of micronutrients they require while avoiding harmful substances allows your body to function optimally.


Protective Foods


Unprocessed, nutrient-dense plant foods—vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts and seeds—provide a broad array of micronutrients, including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and unique plant compounds called phytonutrients.


Two food groups that merit special attention when it comes to protection against cold and flu are mushrooms and the allium family, which includes onions, garlic, chives, and leeks.


Mushrooms are well known to enhance immune function and have been used as medicines for centuries. While many of us are familiar with the common white button mushroom, there are many other tasty varieties available in your local grocery store, including shitake, portabello, crimini, porcini, and oyster.


Vegetables in the Allium family are potent immune enhancers and also contain antimicrobial compounds that kill bacteria and viruses. Eat them raw or cooked. To preserve their full range of health benefits when cooking, chop or crush them at least 10 minutes before exposing them to heat.


Harmful Foods




Sugar compromises the immune system’s ability to defend you against colds and flu by decreasing the activity of the immune cells responsible for attacking the viruses that cause infections. This effect can last for several hours after eating sugar.


While we acknowledge that it is challenging to avoid sugar during the holiday season, it is vital that you minimize sugar consumption if you want maximum protection. When you need something sweet, reach for a piece of fresh fruit instead. Fruit is sweet and delicious but loaded with fiber and immune enhancing micronutrients. Another strategy is to replace traditional desserts with recipes that are sweetened with whole fruit instead of added sugar. Here are some examples of healthy desserts.


Refined Grains


Breads, pastries, and pastas made with white flour and white rice are examples of refined grains. When grains are refined, the nutrient-dense bran and germ are removed, leaving behind empty calories but few nutrients. Worse yet, refined grains are quickly converted into blood sugar and depress immune function. Consider replacing white flour and white rice with whole grains, such as quinoa, oats, millet, wild rice, and stone ground whole wheat. You can also find pastas made from lentils and other beans.


Here are some examples of healthy desserts


Pumpkin Pie


*adapted from Eat to Live Cookbook, Dr. Joel Fuhrman



  • They are loaded with beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin which are antioxidants belonging to a group of pigments called carotenoids.
  • Carotenoids defend the body by boosting the immune system’s capacity for fending off viruses.



[Note: We have included 2 versions, one that uses oat flour and another that has no grains at all for those who need to avoid grains.]


Version #1 (without grains)


  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 1 tsp ground chia seeds
  • 1 cup pitted dates
  • 2 tsp waters


Version #2


  • 1 ¼ cups oat flour
  • ¾ cup raw cashew or almond butter
  • 6-7 tablespoons water




  • 2 cups canned pureed pumpkin or, for even more flavor, roast a pumpkin or other winter squash (our favorites are kobocha or delicate squash.)
    • To roast your own: Cut pumpkin or squash in half and scoop out the seeds with a spoon (the seeds can be rinsed, roasted, and eaten as well!) Place flesh down in a roasting pan filled with about ¼ inch or so of water. Place in the oven at 350 for about 45 minutes or until you can easily poke a fork through the squash. Let cool enough to handle and scoop out the flesh with a spoon.
  • 1 cup pitted dates
  • ½ cup raisins
  • 1 ripe (or even better over-ripe) banana
  • 2 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp ginger fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground allspice
  • ½ tsp ground clove
  • 2 ½ tsp arrowroot powder
  • 10-ounces soft or silken tofu


Topping (optional:)


  • 1 ⅓ cups raw cashews
  • ¾ cup vanilla soy, hemp, or almond milk
  • ⅔ cup pitted dates


Preheat oven to 350.

To make the crust (Version #1), combine the raw almonds and 1 tsp of chia seeds in a food processor. Pulse until finely ground. Add dates and water and process until the mixture gathers into a ball. Press the mixture into a very lightly oiled 8-inch pie pan.

Pre-bake the crust for 5 minutes.

To make the crust (Version #2), place oat flour and nut butter in a bowl and mash with a fork until crumbly. Add the water one tablespoon at a time and blend in with the fork. Roll out the dough between 2 pieces of wax or parchment paper and place in a pie plate. Pre-bake the crust for 10 minutes before filling.

To make the filling, blend the pumpkin or squash, dates, raisins, and banana in a high-powered blender. You may need to add small amounts of water along the way. Add the spices, arrowroot powder, and tofu. Blend until smooth. Pour mixture into pre-baked pie shell. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 60 minutes. Uncover and continue baking an additional 15 minutes. Pie filling will firm up as it cools.

While pie is in the oven, make the cashew cream topping. Blend all ingredients together in a high-powered blender. Serve a dollop on each slice of pie.


Baked Apples


*adapted from plants-rule.com


  • 8 small apples, any variety
  • 3/4 cup thick-rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 2 Tbs pecan pieces
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 2 Tbs apple cider vinegar


Preheat oven to 375 F. Use an apple corer to remove the cores and seeds from the apples.

Then, use a peeler to remove about 1/2-inch of the apple peel, around the top of the apple.

Pack the apples tightly into a square oven-safe baking dish.


Yesterday: Do I have any other options besides the flu vaccination?


Tomorrow: Various preventative measures to take to ensure you don’t get the flu.

DISCLAIMER: The information and reference materials contained here are intended solely for the general information of the reader. It is not to be used for treatment purposes, but rather for discussion with the patient’s own physician. The information presented here is not intended to diagnose health problems or to take the place of professional medical care. The information contained herein is neither intended to dictate what constitutes reasonable, appropriate or best care for any given health issue, nor is it intended to be used as a substitute for the independent judgment of a physician for any given health issue. The major limitation of informational resources like this newsletter is the inability to take into account the unique circumstances that define the health issues of the patient. If you have persistent health problems or if you have further questions, please consult your health care provider.

Eric Udell


With a reputation for excellence in natural medicine, Dr. Udell often tackles challenging cases and serious or chronic illness. Helping his patients recover using natural, safe, non-toxic remedies gives Dr. Udell deep satisfaction and has given him special expertise in treating autoimmune diseases including Rheumatoid Arthritis and Lupus.

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