5 Immunity Boosters: Foods & Herbs

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Herbs and spices have been used since antiquity and are time-tested natural remedies for a variety of illnesses and diseases, including viral infections. There are therapeutically active constituents of these plants which exhibit anti-viral action and protection.

Sometimes science takes awhile to catch up with proving the healing benefits of plants. A simple example here is that cranberry juice helping urinary tract infections was considered an “old wives tale” until scientific research a couple decades ago found it to be true – cranberries have a property that prevents the adhesion of pathogens (e.g. E. coli) to the bladder wall.

Because of lack of interest in funding research on non-patentable compounds, be aware that the research on benefits of some herbs may be scant and have limited human research.  On the other side, many of these herbs and spices have been studied for a few millenia (far longer that most pharmaceuticals) so…

Do your due diligence. Research and consult with your healthcare provider as certain health conditions and potential drug-interactions need to be evaluated. And now, without further ado…

Garlic

Garlic has a special place in our hearts. Ever since we were broke college students, we have relished the power, ubiquity and inexpensive nature of this plant. It has antibacterial, anti-viral, and anti-parasitic properties (to say nothing of its ability to ward off vampires). It also acts as an anti-inflammatory agent. Garlic a common ingredient and easy addition to a variety of dishes. For about a cost of only fifty cents per bulb, it’s a worthy purchase.

Elderberries

The plant family ‘elder’ is also known as sambucus. Native American tribes and even ancient Egyptians used this plant to treat infections and heal the skin. Today these elderberries are most often found available in the form of syrups and lozenges and are used to ameliorate cold and flu symptoms. A mouse study published on PubMed found that concentrated elderberry juice exhibited a “beneficial effect by the stimulating immune response and preventing viral infection” while in a review of human studies, “supplementation with elderberry was found to substantially reduce upper respiratory symptoms [emphasis added].” Is anyone else Team Elderberry right now?

Ginger

Zingiber officinale, also known as ginger, is found in its whole form and in products such as teas, lozenges, and tinctures. Being helpful to pregnant women experiencing nausea is just one of ginger’s impressive resume qualifications. Its potent plant compounds, including gingerols and zingerone, contribute to ginger’s impressive antiviral activity. If ginger were a person, we wouldn’t let this coronavirus-related recession stop us from hiring him/her as an essential employee of our anti-viral unit.

Licorice

Whether you love or hate the taste, licorice has some tools to help keep you safe from viral infection. Used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and elsewhere for hundreds of years, licorice root contains active antiviral compounds called glycyrrhizin, liquiritigenin, and glabridin (say those three times fast, geez). In vitro (test-tube) studies show licorice root’s effectiveness against herpes virus, HIV, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and, wait for it……..SARS-associated coronavirus infection.

Echinacea

Very popular in herbal medicine, Echinacea is one of the best all-around plants because of its extensive healing properties. The entirety of the plant is used – roots, leaves, flowers- in a variety of natural remedy preparations. It’s also a beautiful, purple plant that you may see roadside or in a metro park. Another trusted and time-tested plant used by Native Americans, it has been used to allay a number of conditions, including viral infections, and is immune-modulating. Several in-vitro studies found that a variety of types of echinacea plants (including E. pallida, E. angustifolia, and E. purpurea) effectively knock-out herpes and influenza viral infections.

Remember, these foods and herbs can only really work their ‘magic’ within the context of a body otherwise supported by good nutrition. A diet high in added sugars, mucous-producing foods, and low in vitamins and minerals won’t help your immune system power-up and effectively take on coronavirus or any other infections.

Ready to talk more to a nutrition expert and lay firm foundations for your health for the short- and long-term? Schedule for your complimentary 20-minute Discovery Call and take control of your health and wellness.

Thank you, Flu

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Wondering where we’ve been? Well, first Arizona, and then, during the week where writing a blog was at the top of the list, something happened. Whether it was a delayed on-set from exposure to recycled airplane air or just from another silently contagious human, the flu caught up with us.

An early morning of feeling super-slow, as though walking through molasses, and strange aches made us call a meeting short. Thinking we could still rally and celebrate a friend’s birthday dinner, we decided on a nap. It was only upon awaking that the sad truth set in, with its fever and chills, achy joints, headache, and congestion. The flu.

Too tired and weak to drum up a will to fight, we chose an opposite approach. Giving in. It was decided: instead of trying to force ourselves to feel better and continue working (at least from home), we would do what animals tend to do – including slowing waaaay down. The first day we didn’t eat, the second day was spent in the cave-like bedroom allowing sleep to take over whenever tiredness hit (which was basically all day). Though we couldn’t eat much at all, we took a look at our mental diet…what would we watch or read that would make us feel better? (It ended up being Netflix’s Kindness Diaries and Queer Eye, both rather inspiring and heart-warming). For someone whose stomach rules her life, it was odd not to feel hungry and day 3 brought back a little hunger and ability to enjoy a favorite Mediterranean meal. Here are some silver linings from the experience:

  1. Slowing down – the experience showed the wisdom of not running ourselves into the ground all the time
  2. All of the delicious vacation meals (including homemade Butterfingers and coconut ice cream) put some weight on, which was promptly removed by the flu.
  3. Seeing people in life care and bring wellness remedies, food, and even humor to the situation.
  4. Gratitude for health increased dramatically; how we take it for granted when we’re well!
  5. A nice surprise: sugar cravings went away! It felt like a whole-body reset after a few days of tea, remedies, lots of water, and rest.

Though it was wise to take time to heal, it was more than a bit frustrating to have to scratch all of our appointments and goals for the week. So if getting sick is something you don’t have time for, take time for keeping yourself well. Here are some tips to do just that:

1. Wash hands thoroughly; clean door handles on a regular basis
2. Get enough sleep; skimping here will lower your immune system’s ability to fight off illness
3. Healthy diet; this should go without saying. Proper nutrition is critical to protecting the body and keeping it well.
4. Stay hydrated; it is easy to over-look the benefits of getting enough water
5. Laughter: it boosts the immune system!

Stay well, friends!

Recipe: Peppermint Eggnog & Vegan Nog

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Our first eggnog experience was rather unremarkable and with concerns about foodbourne illness from raw eggs, we’ve never pursued it…until now. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a tasty peppermint eggnog recipe for you which can be made safely with eggs AND we have an eggless, vegan version which is equally delicious. We love to be the bearers of joyous tidings, and this beverage is one of them.

Eggnog is technically stirred custard, very similar to ice cream.

Peppermint Eggnog

6 organic large eggs
1/2 cup maple syrup
3 cups non-dairy milk (we used unsweetened almond milk, you can DIY here)
1/2 can or 6.5 oz coconut milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch of cloves, if desired

Instructions

Whisk eggs, maple syrup, and vanilla extract together in large saucepan over low-medium heat until combined. Then pour milk in slowly while whisking to fully incorporate into mixture. Whisk ingredients over heat constantly, until thermometer reads 160 degrees, about 30 minutes.  This is an important step; should you leave the eggnog mixture to cook on its own, you’ll likely get an unappealing scrambled egg-in-milk, porridge-y mixture.

After cooking is complete, pour mixture through fine sieve over a medium bowl, cool for a few minutes, and stick in refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight. You can also do an ice-bath to help cool mixture down faster. You’ve made a custard; great job!

Remove custard from refrigerator and set aside as you put coconut milk cream in a bowl and mix well. Then fold into eggnog custard mixture until combined; fill cups with this delicious, creamy eggnog.

Option to add alcohol. To garnish beverage, sprinkle with finely crushed peppermint, nutmeg, cinnamon, peppermint or cinnamon sticks, or whatever strikes your festive fancy.

Vegan Peppermint Eggless Nog

The only real difference here in terms of ingredients is the fact that we’re using frozen bananas instead of eggs. Because of the natural sweetness they provide, you may want to consider decreasing the amount of maple syrup added or omit it.

4 bananas (peeled and frozen)
1/2 cup maple syrup, if desired
3 cups non-dairy milk
1/2 can or 6.5 oz coconut milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch of cloves, if desired

Instructions

Even easier! Put all ingredients in a blender and blend it until smooth. Garnish as above with your favorites.

Besides being delicious, eggnog is quite versatile and can be added to coffee, used in making french toast, quiche, and more! We hope you enjoy these egg- and/or dairy-free versions of eggnog with your friends and family over the holidays.