Food as Medicine-How to Boost Your Immune System


Jesi Hirsch, RN

This week we have a guest blogger! Jesi Hirsch, RN is a Patient Advocate, Geriatric Care Manager, Health Coach, Life Coach, and Speaker. She is also a SAIL Vendor! You can learn more about her and the services she offers on her website: Throughout this post, click on the blue text for links to more information. 


April is nutrition month and we are experiencing a pandemic, COVID-19, or the coronavirus. The timing is perfect to talk about the wonders of our human body – a gift we were given when we came into this world – and how to build up our immune system. The immune system’s #1 priority is to protect you from that which is foreign, attacking dangerous bacteria and viruses. One of the best ways to build and support your immune system is to eat the right food.

agriculture cherry tomatoes cooking delicious
Mushrooms are a great booster for the immune system!

Eat to Beat Disease
Most recently I have been reading “Eat to Beat Disease” by Dr. William Li. Dr. Li says that not only can a strong immune system help you avoid the common cold, it is so powerful it can protect you from cancer. So how can we boost our immune system so it will protect us? By exercising, getting proper sleep, lowering and managing stress, and by eating the right foods. Per Dr. Li, specific foods, and the components within them, can powerfully influence our immune system. One of these foods is mushrooms, and this includes one of the most common mushrooms – the white button mushroom (See recipe below!) Others are broccoli sprouts, extra virgin olive oil, blueberries, chili peppers, Pacific oysters, aged garlic (a dietary supplement), and licorice root – not the candy😊. Two fruit juices with immune-boosting power are cranberry juice and concord grape juice.

In a recent interview with Dr. Li on ABC News’ “Pandemic: What You Need to Know,” his top 5 suggestions on what to eat to boost your immune system were: mushrooms, broccoli, tree nuts, tomatoes, and pomegranate juice.

What does a day of boosting your immune system look like?
Breakfast: Cranberry juice, yogurt, and blueberries; licorice root tea
Lunch: Broccoli soup
Dinner: Roasted mushrooms and salmon

Click here for a recipe for roasted mushrooms! 

Food as Medicine
Our DNA is not our destiny, and we all have the power to make ourselves healthy and to prevent chronic disease. After each of my Food as Medicine presentations, several people approach me and share their stories about how either they or someone they know reversed their condition by what they ate. Remember – Love your immune system. Take care of it and it will take care of you.

Ellie, Jesi_2018About Me: I have been a RN for almost 30 years. After four years of being a nurse, I realized there was more to being healthy than just what I was doing as a nurse in a hospital. I attended Kripalu and received certification as a Holistic Health Teacher, a Yoga Instructor, hypnosis (for quitting smoking and losing weight), and training in Reiki. Several years later I was certified as a Life Coach and Health Coach. I coached heart patients when they went home after cardiac events, as well as health coaching in corporate settings. During the last 10 years I have been the Resident Services Director for two senior living communities in the Madison area and Operations Director of a home health care agency. Currently, I am President of RN Patient Advocates of Madison, providing RN Services, Medical Advocacy, and Geriatric Care Management.

Over the last 10 or 15 years, I have recognized how important our food is to our health. I have always believed in prevention, and by that I mean true prevention, not just early detection. And now when I work with clients I do focus on food as medicine and with their doctor’s approval help people get off medications, if possible, because of all the side effects they cause. “Food as medicine” means just what it says. If someone has heart disease there are certain foods that help to reverse the heart condition. If someone has diabetes, eating the right food can help decrease their diabetic numbers and may help them get off insulin. This is true for many conditions, including autoimmune diseases, memory issues, and Parkinson’s disease.

More links: 

Food as Medicine TED Talk
The Center for Mind-Body Medicine
Food is Medicine Coalition

2 thoughts on “Food as Medicine-How to Boost Your Immune System

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