With Virus' having a louder voice in our world, I keep asking myself, "Is there anything I can do?" Is there anything we can use to strengthen our immunes systems and decrease the probabilities of something bad happening to us? In this article, I want to go over some of the things I've been using to try and keep my immune system in Tip-Top Shape. It's no exaggeration that every week of my life, I say to clients, "Your health and wellness have a lot to do with what you're doing in your kitchen. How can using a few condiments to spice things up also pep up your immune system?
These spices and condiments in your kitchen cupboard not only make your food "delicioso"; they will also provide health benefits – from preventing inflammation to being antimicrobial and antiviral at the same damn time! It shouldn't be a surprise to you, Sweat Nation, that many of the spices that support your immune system have benefits for other systems as well.
There are some pretty big immune hitters in the plant world: Echinacea, olive oil, medicinal mushrooms, astragalus, and berberine-containing botanicals like coptis are great examples. A discussion about these is for another blog post. This article will focus on what might be in your kitchen spice cabinet or refrigerator that adds flavor while reducing fever.
Who hasn't thought of having a nice cup of hot soup when fighting off a cold? Perhaps this is because some types of soup have top immune-supportive condiments and spices in it – including garlic, onions, ginger, chili peppers, oregano, lemon, and vinegar.
It seems that garlic does more than ward off vampires and mosquitoes; it can help defeat those unwanted microscopic bugs that make your life miserable, especially in wintertime. It's got natural antibiotics – with antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. Eating garlic helps prevent a cold or lessens the symptoms and shortens the illness if you already have a cold. Some individuals chew raw cloves of garlic at the first sign of a cold or exposure to a bug. That is a hardcore way of going about it. I think that it would be a great way never to get sick because people may not want to be around you if you're eating whole heads of raw garlic.
I recall a friend of mine told me about one of her first experiences with naturopathic medicine. An overly enthusiastic naturopathic friend paid her a house call and decided she wasn't going to take an antibiotic for strep throat. She had decided that her "treatment" was going to be carrot and garlic poultices around her neck – in addition to a disgusting tasting cayenne, goldenseal, and garlic tea, she drank several times a day. According to her friend, she managed to get rid of that gnarly strep infection and never got one again. But I put this one in the category of – don't try this at home. But Desperate times, my friends, desperate times.
Let's look at some more scientific evidence-based use for garlic. One study of 10 healthy adults found that if they took 2.5 grams of garlic daily, then after 45 days, their natural killer cells (cells that attack viruses) worked more efficiently. After 90 days, even though they didn't have fewer colds compared to a group who didn't take garlic when they did get a cold, it was of shorter duration, less severe, and resulted in fewer missed days of work or school.
In another study, 146 adults used garlic or a placebo for 12 weeks from November to February, with the garlic group experiencing significantly fewer colds (24 versus 65), fewer sick days (111 versus 366 days), and shorter duration of illness (1.5 versus 5 days).
How can we get garlic without chewing on a whole clove? In the kitchen of course. Crushing or chopping garlic into food converts alliin to allicin, which is the main bioactive in garlic. Some other Allium genus foods you can load up on are onions, shallots, or leeks because they also contain allicin. There are many Sweat Nation recipes you can dig into that are based in that oh so savory combination of onion & garlic. Take a look after you finish this article.
Various honey, such as Manuka, have shown to have protective activity against Candida albicans, some viruses, and parasites. It has a benefit when taken internally, and, because of its antiseptic properties, can also be used topically to help heal wounds, burns, and ulcerated skin. Honey also provides anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects from flavonoids and other polyphenols.
What's all this buzz about manuka honey? Produced in New Zealand and Australia, where bees pollinate manuka bushes, the hydrogen peroxide produced by enzymes in honey provides some of its antimicrobial effects. Manuka honey possesses additional antimicrobial activity from high concentrations of a chemical called methylglyoxal. The higher the methylglyoxal content, the more potent the antibiotic effect – as measured by the Unique Manuka Factor. Because of its antimicrobial wound-healing properties, manuka honey has been approved by the FDA for use as a wound dressing. More good news is that, unlike antibiotic medications, bacterial resistance has never been reported for honey.
Honey also acts as a prebiotic because it contains oligosaccharides, substances that promote the growth of beneficial gut bacteria – Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium – that support a healthy immune system in many ways.
Lemons and their immune-supportive attributes are a thing of legend. For starters, they are an excellent source of immune-supportive vitamin C.
One average-sized lemon has 31 mg of vitamin C – about 50 percent of the U.S. Government's recommended daily intake (of course, we know you can benefit from much more). Lemons saved the At one time most powerful British Navy who developed scurvy during long periods at sea with no access to fruits or vegetables. With a quick search, You can learn all about the history and the horrors of scurvy Long before it was discovered that scurvy was caused by vitamin C deficiency.
In addition to vitamin C, lemons possess some antimicrobial properties. Research looking at the antimicrobial effects of fruit juice concentrates like lemon, lime, tangerine, and grape found that they all possess antimicrobial effects. In the study, lemon had the most potent effect against Candida albicans.
Does lemon juice cut through thick mucus? Ancestral medicine holds that it does, and many people swear by lemon water for just such a purpose. Drinking water by itself helps thin mucous secretions, so is it the lemon or just the liquid? Something more for us to learn about.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) has been used as an ancestral remedy for centuries – particularly for whatever ails the GI tract. Ginger root can be sliced, diced, juiced, pickled, and candied, although it's mostly used as a powder.
Gingerol, which provides ginger its flavor and aroma, is its most bioactive constituent and is responsible for many of its health benefits, which come from gingerol's antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
In terms of immune support, ginger has antibacterial effects. Are you starting to see a pattern? If bugs are taking particular interest in setting up shop in your stomach, then ginger, with its anti-nausea effects, can offer particular benefit. In addition to improving gut motility, to keep your food moving in the right direction, ginger improves the immune health of your gut by supporting the growth of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium bacterial species – like honey – acting as a prebiotic.
Ginger is a warming spice, which can help if you've got a fever with chills.
Pull three of these ingredients together to make a soothing, warming, healing tea:
Ginger tea with honey and lemon
Pour one cup boiling water over 1 teaspoon of grated ginger (or slice it thinly) and let steep for five minutes strain off the ginger and pour the liquid into a mug add one tablespoon of raw honey and stir add one tablespoon of lemon juice Enjoy sipping and breathing the fumes
Note: if you're feeling especially crappy and don't feel like grating ginger or you don't have fresh ginger, then use ground ginger in a pinch – about one-half teaspoon per cup of water.
5. Red peppers
Red peppers – hot peppers like cayenne or mild peppers like red bell – are some of the richest sources of vitamin C; they contain more vitamin C, gram for gram, than citrus fruits. Although red bell peppers contain more vitamin C than their less ripe green counterpart, yellow bell peppers contain the most vitamin C.
According to the USDA, 100 grams of chopped red bell pepper contains 127 mg of vitamin C while the same amount of chopped yellow bell pepper contains 184 mg vitamin C. To put this information into some form you could use in the kitchen without getting out a food scale, one cup of chopped red bell pepper contains 190 mg of vitamin C (more than twice the Recommended Dietary Allowance).
Cayenne pepper also acts like a prebiotic, supporting gut immunity, which, as noted, can have a beneficial effect on the whole body. In a study that examined the effect of cayenne on the growth of bacterial species advantageous to the GI tract, cayenne at various dilutions stimulated the growth of 10 strains of Bifidobacterium and 13 strains of Lactobacillus, including L. rhamnosus GG and L. reuteri. Although it was a test tube study, cayenne would likely behave similarly in the human gut, feeding the beneficial gut flora.
Both bell peppers and their hotter chili pepper cousins – cayenne, jalapeno, habanero, etc. – also have antimicrobial effects. According to preliminary research done in a test tube, it may not be the capsaicin (commonly thought to be the most important active ingredient in peppers) that is an essential antimicrobial ingredient.
In other words, you may not have to burn your mouth and throat to reap the benefits of peppers. For example, habanero, which is very hot and contains the highest amount of capsaicin, shows the least antimicrobial activity. In contrast, sweeter bell peppers devoid of capsaicin have the highest antimicrobial effect.
6. Apple Cider Vinegar
Like the other spices and condiments we've talked about, apple cider vinegar also possesses antimicrobial properties – both antibacterial and antifungal (against Candida albicans). When the apples are fermented, the fermentation process creates alcohol, which is further fermented to acetic acid – one of the antimicrobial constituents of vinegar.
Because of its acidic nature, which can upset your stomach and be a little hard on the enamel of your teeth, it might be best to use it in combination with other ingredients – typically in amounts between one teaspoon and a couple of tablespoons.
This brings us back to hot soup – vinegar provides a delicious tangy note. Although there are as many variations as there are recipes online, some common ingredients include garlic, ginger, chili peppers, and onions. Along with a hot cup of honey and lemon tea, you've got all your bases covered right in your kitchen to keep you healthy this cold and flu season.
Drinking warm chicken or beef bone broth is an excellent way to help you stay hydrated while providing you with nutrient-dense food while you're getting through a sickness. It helps to loosen and break up nose and sinus congestion.
Bone broth is also naturally high in protein and minerals like sodium and potassium. Drinking broth is a great way to replenish these nutrients while you have the flu. Plus, protein is essential for rebuilding immune cells.
You can buy ready-made varieties. You can also make your broth by boiling chicken or beef bones. I like to make a lot of it then freeze portions of it for future use.
8. Oregano Oil
As an herb, but in our case, an herbal supplement, oil of oregano is known for its antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. It contains several potentially healing compounds, such as carvacrol, thymol, and terpinene. People have traditionally used oil of oregano for respiratory health. It's becoming a popular remedy for cold and flu symptoms.
There have been several recent studies looking at the health benefits of oregano herbal oil, and most of the findings are promising.
A 2017 study found that oregano oil has strong antioxidant properties. The researchers noted the traditional use of oregano oil in treating fevers and respiratory symptoms, which are both associated with the flu.
Research has also found that it can inhibit both human and animal viruses in vitro.
The researchers noted that this action is likely due to carvacrol, one of the main compounds in oregano oil. While carvacrol was more effective against certain viruses on its own, oregano oil was more effective against respiratory illnesses, such as flu viruses.
People with upper respiratory infections participating in a 2011 study used a throat spray containing oregano oil as well as diluted eucalyptus, peppermint, and rosemary essential oils. They used it five times a day for three days. Compared to those in the placebo group, those who used the spray had reduced symptoms of sore throat, hoarseness, and cough 20 minutes after using it. This suggests that oregano oil might help with more painful flu symptoms, such as body aches or a sore throat.
There are several ways to use oregano oil.
If you are using the pure essential oil form, remember never to ingest essential oils. Instead, follow these steps:
add a few drops to a steam diffuser or bowl of hot water
apply to your skin after adding about five drops to a carrier oil, such as coconut oil.
You can also shop for an oregano oil tincture, which is an extract and essential oil blend formulated to take orally. Follow the dosage instructions on the bottle.
Alternatively, you can purchase oregano herbal oil in capsule form. Carefully read the dosage instructions on the bottle.
Regardless of why you're taking oregano oil, make sure you take at least a weeklong break for every three weeks of use.
If you find yourself dealing with a cold or the flu, try using oregano herbal oil for relief. Just make sure you don't go over the recommended dosage.
There you have it, Sweat Nation. We're living in the best times ever, but with that said, viruses and bugs have the same ability to evolve as we do. Take care of yourselves. I hope these tips will provide a foundation and blueprint for how to take care of yourself.
Here's to spreading more Peace, Love, and Smiles!
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