We all know a balanced/varied/colorful diet, frequent hand-washing, sufficient sleep, regular exercise, a flu shot, and maybe a supplement (since it’s hard to eat perfect every day) are the best means of warding off sickness.  Whether it’s the dead of winter, and your whole family has the flu, or you just want to shorten that lingering summer cold, there ARE specific nutrients that help fight illnesses.  Incorporate the below in your diet on a regular basis to keep your immune system strong all year long OR increase intake when your need to put up your best fight.  These items will ultimately be more effective than many over-the-counter medicines! 

Celtic Sea Salt
This particular salt is harvested from the Atlantic seawater off the coast of Brittany, France.  It is unrefined and contains no chemicals, preservatives or additives.  It provides electrolytes, which are especially important for fluid balance when you aren’t feeling well and thus not eating and drinking adequately.  Use Celtic salt instead of your current shaker in everyday cooking or seasoning.  (Remember to go easy on the sodium if you have high blood pressure or heart disease. If you work out and sweat a lot, you may need to add more sodium to your diet.   Always check with your doctor or Registered Dietitian for your personal needs.)

Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
This was traditionally used as a disinfectant.  It is now found in both the condiment and health supplement aisles of the supermarket.  Acids in ACV can improve digestion and deter growth of harmful bacteria in the digestive tract.   Add 1-2 Tbsp to hot water or tea or use in salad dressing.

 Vitamin C
This is necessary for growth and repair of tissue in all parts of the body.   Lemons are a great source.  They help fortify against infection, and have some anti-inflammatory effects as well.  Grapefruits, oranges, dark leafy greens, strawberries, and red bell peppers also have a high content of this nutrient.

Cinnamon
This aromatic spice is surprisingly a good source of fiber, iron, and calcium.  It is rich in antioxidants:  One teaspoon contains as much antioxidants as a full cup of pomegranate juice or a half cup of blueberries.   Cinnamon acts as a natural anti-inflammatory, and it has antimicrobial activity to fight infection. 

Honey
This soothes a sore throat and may alleviate nighttime coughing as well as over-the-counter cough medicine.

 Probiotics
Supplements (ask me to help recommend one for you!) and rich food sources (yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut) both improve gut health AND decrease the incidence of upper respiratory infections. 

Chicken Soup
Not only does this bowl of hot liquid hydrate and soothe an achy throat, it warms airways, thus loosening mucus to help alleviate coughs and stuffed noses.  The protein from the chicken helps build antibodies to that fight infection.   Its amino acid cysteine thins mucus as well to decrease symptoms.

 Tumeric
This spice is high in anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory and helps rid the body of toxins.

Garlic and Onion
The active component in garlic called allicin has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties.  It also improves healthy gut bacteria.  Onions also contain anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds.

Teas
As mentioned above, hot liquids help hydrate a sick body and ease a sore throat, sneezing, chills, and fatigue.  All teas (white, green, black) contain catechins, antioxidants that have been show to decrease the chance of catching the flu and boost overall immunity and metabolism.  Adding one cup of chopped anise seeds or 1.5 tsp of fennel seeds to hot water for tea can help alleviate coughs and congestion due to the natural expectorant effects of both types of seeds.  Chamomile and ginger teas can ease stomach discomfort and inflammation.

Putting it all together
To pack the most punch, try these combinations:
-Chicken soup made with garlic, onion, turmeric, kale, and bell peppers
-Hot green tea with 1 tbsp AVC, 1 tbsp honey, a squeeze of lemon juice, and a dash of cinnamon

Feel better soon!!

 

 

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