Hippocrates, the father of medicine, stated, “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.” Hippocrates had a clear understanding of the power of food to preserve health and prevent illness. There is no nutritional supplementation that can fully equal the wellness powers of a healthy diet.
Here’s a new statement to chew on: “Health begins in the mouth while illness and demise begin in the bowel.” What a bold statement! We have untapped power to positively affect our health outcome. The small intestine hosts 70-80 % of the body’s entire immune system. Consuming healthy food will tap this treasure trove of “medicine” and encourage the immune system to flex its muscles.
Fill your pantry with medicine! I’m not talking about the stuff with pharmacy stickers on it. On your next visit to the supermarket, take a new approach. Let’s not just think recipe, appetite, family or spousal requests; let’s set on a path to arm our pantries with weapons for wellness! That may be an unfortunate metaphor for such a positive topic, but we are at war out there, being assaulted full time by attacks against our health and immune systems!
Coconuts are highly nutritious and rich in fiber; vitamins C, E, B1, B3, B5 and B6; and minerals including iron, selenium, sodium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorous. Unlike cow’s milk, coconut milk is lactose free so it can be used as a milk substitute by those with lactose intolerance.
The coconut is an incredibly diverse fruit that can be incorporated into a menu daily and in many different ways. Lauric acid, one of the two primary fatty acids that make up the fat content of coconut, exhibits strong anti-viral potential. Use the butter to gently pan fry or bake. Substitute a portion of any nut flour with coconut flour or simply use coconut flour as a base for baking. Add desiccated unsweetened coconut to your favorite recipe or breakfast cereal or snack on unsweetened roasted coconut chips.
Many of us were told by our grandparents to have a bowl of chicken broth or chicken soup to strengthen our immune systems and fight the flu. So is there any evidence to back up this old wives’ tale? The answer is yes. Chicken soup is rich in carnosine, which can strengthen the immune system to fight the flu in its early stages. In addition, chicken soup exhibits mild anti-inflammatory benefits that reduce symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections.
Fermented foods such as kefir, sauerkraut and the Korean vegetable kimchi have gained popularity of the last few years. Through the process of fermentation, these foods contain naturally occurring probiotics (healthy bacteria), which support our immune systems and help to fight infection. Although fermented foods may take a while to incorporate into a diet, they need only be consumed in small amounts. One of the easiest ways to do this is to ferment coconut water. The result is commonly referred to as young coconut kefir.
Not only is lemon a great source of vitamin C, but it is also alkalinizing, which helps it support the optimal function of the immune system and act as an antiviral. In this role, lemon also allows all the metabolic processes of the cell to function more efficiently. For those who tend to shy away from lemon because of the tart taste, try a Meyer lemon. In addition, you can find pure, organic lemon juice (not from concentrate) that can be used for the convenience factor.
In addition to these foods, healthy lifestyle habits that boost your immunity include:
- Daily exercise
- Adequate hydration
- Enduring and productive sleep
- Daily relaxation and meditation
- Deep breathing and sufficient oxygen
- Nurturing relationships
- Stress reduction
So head to kitchen and eat your way to healing, health and vitality this winter, and don’t let infection get the better of you.
Chicken Soup (Not Just for the Soul)
Homemade bone broth is rich in gelatin and minerals, 2 essential components of a healthy immune system. And it isn’t as intimidating to make as it seems—this recipe requires only 5 minutes of prep time. Drink it on its own or use it as a base for soups and stews.
2 lbs. chicken bones
1 onion, peeled (rich in sulfur)
8-10 cloves of garlic, peeled (exhibits antiviral potential)
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (alkalinizes the body)
1 teaspoon Celtic salt
Place all ingredients in a slow cooker on high and cook for 1 hour.
Reduce heat to low and cook for an additional 8–10 hours.
Strain, cool, and store in glass jars.
1 whole organic chicken
2 organic leeks
4 stalks of organic celery
4 large organic carrots
4 large organic parsnips
Sprigs of organic parsley
2 teaspoons organic Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base (more or less to taste)
Remove the giblets from the chicken.
Clean the chicken thoroughly and pat dry.
Add the cleaned chicken to the bone broth, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour.
Clean and peel the vegetables as needed.
Slice into bite-size chunks per your preference.
Add the vegetables to the chicken soup and return to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for an additional 30 minutes.
Remove the chicken from the soup. Pull into bite-size pieces and put enough back in the soup to satisfy your preference.
You can add additional vegetables to the cooking or serving process including escarole, zucchini, summer squash and green beans to increase the density and nutrition content.
Be well now!
Our nutrition expert, Peta Cohen, M.S., R.D., has been a clinical nutritionist and metabolic specialist since 1996. Peta specializes in examining the root causes of complex and chronic health issues, and helping clients prevent the diseases caused by lifestyle choices, environmental influences, epigenetics, and aging. With her extensive clinical and research experience, she's been invited to share her knowledge at seminars and conferences worldwide. In Peta's articles for the BoomSpot, the blog of the online store theBoomShop.com, she gives practical tips on how adults 50+ can improve their health right now. Learn more about Peta at PetaCohen.com.