Improve your Immune System through Buying Fresh and Local
By, Sean Danahy RD. LDN.
Culinary Nutrition Faculty
There are numerous benefits to supporting local agriculture by participating in CSA programs or visiting your local farmer’s market. There is a social benefit in being able to talk to the people growing your produce, and knowing that you are contributing to the economy in your area. There is a taste benefit in sourcing the freshest fruits and vegetables based on seasonable availability. There is another health benefit that goes beyond the vitamins and minerals that are provided by products grown locally and purchased fresh, and that is the benefit to our immune system.
You may have heard someone say that when dealing with seasonal allergies it can be helpful to purchase some local raw honey. The purpose of this is that the allergens become encapsulated in the honey itself and can be introduced in small doses that your immune system can adapt to. This can be considered a holistic method of immunotherapy. Building up a tolerance to allergens by exposing yourself in this way has been reported as beneficial by many fervent supporters.
The National Institute of Health’s Human Microbiome Project (HMP) has shed light on the 3-5 pounds of bacteria (10,000+ species) that inhabit our colon/large intestines. This revelation has spurred some of the most exciting discussions in the health community in recent years and is largely responsible for the notoriety of the buzz words: probiotics (the health benefitting microbes in our gut) and prebiotics (the food to the beneficial microbes in our gut). What has been discovered is a newfound appreciation for how the foods we eat contribute to the microbial ecosystem inside of us. This ecosystem of microbes acts as ~60% of our immune system, protecting us from pathogens that survive the stomach acid and pose a threat to our health.
The health benefits of traditional eating habits are becoming more apparent and are contributing to the emergence of food trends such as probiotics, antioxidants, and superfoods. What was once “eat your vegetables” has evolved into “be sure to incorporate more antioxidants”. So in an effort to streamline the message we can combine all of the above into a more complete statement: buy fresh and local produce because it is the freshest most beneficial source of nutrients that can contribute not only to your local economy and agriculture, but can positively benefit your health and immune system.
Sean Danahy RD. LDN.
Culinary Nutrition Faculty
Culinary Institute of Virginia
College of Culinary Arts of ECPI University
2428 Almeda Ave., Suite 106 | Norfolk, VA 23513
(Phone) 757-858-2433 x51946 | SDanahy@chefva.com | www.chefva.com