Over the holidays there are many excuses to get creative with your culinary skills. The common development of coughs, sniffles, and sore throats in your family might have you wondering what foods to add to give meals a little more immune boosting potential. There are a few incredibly useful foods which will serve you well this holiday season, they will give your meals a little spice and warmth, as well as keeping those pesky bugs at bay.
Garlic – Garlic has been used since time immemorial as a medicinal food to ward off infection and for a home remedy for colds, sore throats, and gastrointestinal complaints. Fresh garlic is by far more effective in this regard than cooked garlic, however, it’s still a wonderful spice to use in baked, sauteed, and broiled dishes. Add to mashed potatoes, sauteed mushrooms, or holiday stuffing. It also may help lower cholesterol and aid in cardiovascular conditions.
Onions – Onions, are often used right along with garlic as a synergistic duo. They are both in the same plant family and have similar antimicrobial and warming effects on the body. A wonderful home remedy is to make a sore throat syrup with local raw honey, onion, and garlic. Cut the onion into rounds and crush the garlic, add to honey and let sit for 2-3 weeks.
Ginger – Ginger is a warming food that is also antibacterial and can certainly be added to the above throat syrup. It’s a wonderful spice to add to sparkling water for an upset stomach or nausea and can be added to sweeter dishes for an interesting delightful flavor combination. Ginger may also help to lower cholesterol and also regulate blood sugar levels.
Cinnamon – Cinnamon is a spice which is incredibly powerful, and recommended commonly for the natural treatment of type 2 diabetes, as it helps regulate blood sugar. It is also warming and antimicrobial. It’s a wonderful spice to add to breakfast meals like pancakes, oatmeal or fruit.
Horseradish – Horseradish will certainly open up those nasal passages and get the mucous flowing. This is great in the early stages of upper respiratory conditions and post-nasal drip, as it allows the body to begin draining and cleansing itself of pathogens which may lead to a more serious infection.
Keep in mind – Over the holidays, it’s often the food that is making us sick. We tend to overeat and a lot of our energy goes to digesting meals instead of operating our immune system. Using healing foods is a great idea, but often times the best thing for a new onset cold, sore throat, or upset stomach over the holidays, is to fast for a day or two in order to let your digestion settle down.
Node Smith, associate editor for NDNR, is a fifth year naturopathic medical student at NUNM, where he has been instrumental in maintaining a firm connection to the philosophy and heritage of naturopathic medicine amongst the next generation of docs. He helped found the first multi-generational experiential retreat, which brings elders, alumni, and students together for a weekend campout where naturopathic medicine and medical philosophy are experienced in nature. Three years ago he helped found the non-profit, Association for Naturopathic ReVitalization (ANR), for which he serves as the board chairman. ANR has a mission to inspire health practitioners to embody the naturopathic principles through experiential education. Node also has a firm belief that the next era of naturopathic medicine will see a resurgence of in-patient facilities which use fasting, earthing, hydrotherapy and homeopathy to bring people back from chronic diseases of modern living; he is involved in numerous conversations and projects to bring about this vision.