- John Dyke is the founder and CEO of Nashville’s only, locally owned natural foods grocer, Turnip Truck.
Combined with soaring temperatures and blue skies, fall in Central Tennessee brings the unwelcome elements of an increase in colds and viruses.
As a local organic grocer for nearly two decades, I am grateful that the science continues to back up what farmers and others who live close to nature have known all along: Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables will improve immunity — while consuming highly processed foods can harm Your health.
When I started running a turnip truck in East Nashville about 20 years ago, I set out to bring the farm fresh foods I grew up enjoying to my neighbors.
After crossing paths with them at farmers markets and health stores across Nashville, I learned that there was a demand for natural fare in the heart of the city.
Hear more Tennessee sounds: Get our weekly newsletter for insightful and thought-provoking columns.
Healthy food helps boost your immune system
New research proves the wisdom of generations following this path: Food really does nourish immunity. Besides eliminating toxic stress, staying physically active and drinking plenty of clean water, medical research has focused on a healthy microbiome as a critical factor in overall immunity.
The microbiome is generally referred to as “gut health,” and it plays a key role in fighting disease and disease. Fortunately, we in Nashville have access to abundant seasonal sources of gut-healthy prebiotics and probiotics.
While probiotic foods contain beneficial live bacteria, prebiotics nourish and maintain these bacteria. Together they support the complex center of microorganisms responsible for helping the body stay healthy.
Many are familiar with probiotic foods, including yogurt with live cultures, and fermented foods including kefir, sauerkraut, and kombucha tea. Add prebiotics in the form of fresh fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains to support the action of the probiotics. Easily available root vegetables such as onions and garlic are excellent prebiotic options.
Hear from the voices of black people in Tennessee:Get our weekly newsletter for Effective and Critical Thinking Columns.
How to keep your body strong this winter
Whether you’re just getting started on your way to an immune-boosting diet or you’ve mastered the art of eating for health, there are practical steps you can take this winter to keep your body strong. I recommend starting with the seasonal fare.
In Middle Tennessee, sample fall options, from butternut squash and butternut squash to satisfying root vegetables.
Not only are seasonal items fresher and more flavorful, but they are less likely to be processed, increasing their nutritional value.
It’s old-fashioned advice, but it’s definitely true for immunity: Shop in the vicinity of the grocery store. Fresh items—including produce and all perishable items—are located around the outer ring of the floor plan, with more processed items (boxed, canned, or bagged) in the central aisles.
Fill most of your cart with perishable items, especially vegetables and fruits. Supplement, but only as needed. We think a clean supplement can be very beneficial – especially during cold and flu season.
However, by eating a rainbow of fresh fruits and vegetables, you eliminate the necessity of supplements, making them complementary rather than essential.
By thinking of food as a preventative medicine, we can eat our way toward a healthier, more delicious winter.
John Dyke is the founder and CEO of Nashville’s only, locally owned natural foods grocer, Turnip Truck.