Eating Around the Flu

By Rachel Sircy

First, before I dive into my main subject, let me clarify a statement from my last blog post. I am kind of a skeptic when it comes to certain alternative medicines and home remedies. However, I am a believer in many herbal remedies and I definitely believe that a person can eat (and exercise) their way to better health. Benjamin Franklin said that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. I believe this is true and this describes my outlook on homeopathic remedies. They are the ounce of prevention that is worth the pound of cure. I believe that you should try to prevent illness with diet, exercise and herbal remedies and reserve trips to the doctor for when you are sick and the herbal stuff isn’t doing the trick. I don’t believe in any fad diets and I especially don’t believe in any concoction that is supposed to cure anything that ails me. If a person claims to have answers for everything from warts to stage 4 cancer, they are just trying to sell something. Or, that’s my feeling on the subject anyway. And that goes for conventional medicine as well as homeopathic remedies.

So, I said all of that to say, I don’t think that essential oils are ineffective or useless. Melaluca oil killed my pet beta fish almost instantly (I was trying to cure a vicious fungal infection that he had), so I know that the power of essential oils isn’t just hype. They definitely have their uses. Not for poor, sick beta fish, but certainly for other things.

…anyway, on to this week’s post.

The post last week was all about how I was on a horseradish kick. I’m still on a bit of a kick and I’ve found that a bit of the fresh ground horseradish with some Duke’s mayonnaise is awesome on an egg sandwich. Beware, though, of eating it first thing in the morning. It could tear your stomach up and, actually, while I’m thinking about it, horseradish isn’t recommended for people with ulcers. I am the kind of person who eats egg sandwiches for lunch and dinner, so that would be when I would recommend eating it. It’s also really good on a grilled ham and Swiss cheese sandwich.

This week’s post is about some other foods that you can eat to help prevent sickness this cold and flu season. Here are some of the things I’ve been eating lately:

Picture 1

Of course, there’s the horseradish and I’m also a big believer in Echinacea, especially in tea form. Echinacea is the one and only herbal remedy that I’ve ever heard praised in a biology class. I was in college and our professor told us that it works better than vitamin C to prevent and shorten colds and flus. It’s a great immune system booster.

Picture 2

This huge pile of minced garlic went into a chicken dish that I made. I’ve been cooking with as much garlic as possible, not just to prevent respiratory infections, but also because garlic contains compounds that aid in heart health. Garlic is also supposed to be an immune system booster, but remember, you need to buy cloves of garlic and chop it yourself. To get the most out of your chopped garlic, let it sit for at least 5 minutes before cooking with it. Apparently when garlic is chopped and left to sit, a compound called allicin forms. Allicin is the compound that boosts your immune system and can help prevent a cold. You’ll notice, when you let your garlic sit that it’s scent changes. It gets stronger the longer that you let it sit. My Reader’s Digest Complete Illustrated Book of Herbs recommends that you consume 3-4 cloves per week for prevention of sickness and 1-2 cloves per day if you are already sick. Yeah, you’re going to smell funky if you eat 1-2 cloves per day, but I bet you’ll feel better.

Picture 3

This is a delicious bowl of cabbage soup was made by my mother-in-law. Now, I don’t advocate the Cabbage Soup Diet. Almost every reputable source of medical information that I’ve found on the internet (including the Mayo Clinic, which is the source that I trust the most) says that the Cabbage Soup Diet is a really, really bad idea. However, if you don’t go crazy and eat nothing but cabbage soup for months on end, then a bowl of cabbage soup is actually pretty good for you. Cabbage, after all, is a member of the cruciferous family of vegetables. Cruciferous vegetables also include broccoli and cauliflower and are related to – guess what? Horseradish! Cruciferous vegetables, like horseradish contain glucosinolates, which is a compound that may aid in the prevention of cancer. Not to mention that cabbage contains a lot of vitamin C, as do the tomatoes in the soup. So, it’s kind of a win-win food for your health. As long as you don’t eat it and nothing else. Really, don’t do the Cabbage Soup Diet. Losing weight isn’t that serious!

picture 4

This is the chicken dish that I made with all that garlic. The herbs on the chicken are oregano and thyme. Thyme is supposed to have anti-microbial properties and so it is recommended for respiratory infections and for the prevention of colds. I’ve also had thyme tea, which you can make by simply putting some dried thyme in hot water and steeping for 10 minutes or so. It’s not your usual tasting tea, but it’s really not that bad. I don’t know if I’d go for the tea unless I was already sick. But the great thing about trying to eat for your health, is that when you cook a dish that consists of a lot of garlic, thyme and lemon (these basic ingredients make up the marinade for this chicken) it’s not only healthy, but it tastes great, too.

There are a ton of other remedies out there. You can also use supplements to help you in this season of nastiness. I take one Zinc tablet every day and my husband takes capsules containing dried Echinacea since he doesn’t care for the tea. Elderberry can be used either in powdered form in a capsule or as a syrup, or you can sometimes find it as an extra ingredient in Echinacea tea. I really like the combination of Echinacea and Elderberry tea, but each person’s tastes are different. If you’re a tea fanatic like me, Traditional Medicinals and Yogi teas are a great place to start if you’re looking for herbal remedies. There’s basically a tea for every ailment that you can think of (but no one tea is a cure-all).

What I’ve shared here is, of course, just the tip of the iceberg. So if anyone else has an good remedies or recipes, please share them with us!

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