The 5-Day Food Prescription to Build Up Your Immunity

Plus, a broccoli stir fry recipe to help you get started.

By Jeannine Morris Lombardi
woman cooking on stove

All month long, Dr. Oz is bringing you a COVID-19 Defense Plan to help you stay as healthy as possible. From tips on nutritious eating, to simple plans that’ll get you up and exercising, Dr. Oz is sharing smart ways to take control of your health.

Nov. 2, 2020 — 6 a.m. EST

Washing your hands for 20 seconds is hopefully second nature by now -- but  there’s even more you can do to build up your own personal COVID-19 Defense Plan, and a huge part of it is what you put into your body. “Focusing on supporting your immune system through food is one of the most important things that you can do anytime, especially now,” says Dr. William Li, author of Eat to Beat Disease, who stopped by The Doctor Oz Show on November 2, 2020. Dr. Li shared a five-day food prescription to help you get started with eating better and building a healthy immunity.

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Make these little additions to what you eat daily to get your body back on track.

Day 1: Add Mushrooms and Broccoli

These vegetables are a respiratory power duo. According to Dr. Li, mushrooms increase the secretion of an antibody called IgA, present  in your mucous membranes and saliva. “It’s an important first line of defense against any invader,” he explains. Broccoli and broccoli sprouts are another booster, because they contain sulforaphane, a sulfur-based nutrient that neutralizes toxins and helps decrease inflammation. Dr. Oz recommends making a mushroom and broccoli stir fry like this one.  You can simply download the recipe and print it out for easy cooking.

Day 2: Eat A Cup of Blueberries per Day

Blueberries are full of antioxidants that enhance your immune system. A study by the Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism in Canada in 2011 found blueberries can increase the number of natural killer cells, which are critical to immune responses that eliminate virus-infected cells or tumor cells. In the study, participants had a little less than two cups of blueberries per day for six weeks, and about three cups given an hour prior to a two and a half hours of running on a treadmill. “The blueberries doubled the number of natural killer cells they had in their bloodstream,” remarks Dr. Li. “They can also help our immune system develop “learned responses” to foreign invaders.”  Besides being delicious, they make a great additive to breakfast meals and can be a healthy snack.  

Day 3: Enjoy A Glass of Black or Green Tea

Tea has been shown to improve our gut microbiome.  A June 2020 study conducted by the School of Basic Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology Bhubaneswar in India found that people who drink green or black tea have more healthy bacteria in their guts. A balanced microbiome is crucial for your overall health. Make it a goal to have a cup tea per day.  

Day 4: Help Yourself to A Handful of Nuts

Nuts are a healthy source of fiber, protein, and fat.  Dr. Li recommends mixing it up with a handful of almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, cashews, or pecans daily. Nuts contain Omega-3s and others are rich in healthy fiber, which feed your gut microbiome. When shopping, look for unsalted or lightly salted varieties.  Salted nuts can have upward of 200 milligrams of sodium per ounce and lightly salted nuts contain about 45 to 95 milligrams.  

Day 5: Have A Serving of Leafy Greens

Leafy greens like arugula, kale and spinach contain nitrates, which convert to nitric oxide, the molecule naturally produced by your body responsible for promoting proper blood flow.  “When you chew spinach, the microbiome of your tongue actually converts the nitrates in that spinach that come from the soil, into a form that your stomach can digest, and turns it into nitric oxide, which then goes into your bloodstream,” explains Dr. Li.  Boosting your nitric oxide level helps to lower your blood pressure and improve your brain function.

Make a pact with yourself to try one of these tips per day and pay attention to how you feel.  Over time, these lifestyle tweaks can become part of your daily routine. Stay tuned to The Dr. Oz Show all November long for more COVID-19 Defense Plans you can turn into permanent lifestyle choices.

Article written by Jeannine Morris Lombardi