16 Natural things to eat, drink or Smell to strengthen yourself against the flu and its nasty friends

Everyone seems to be under the weather these days. The flu has been particularly terrible this year…Using the power of food, plants and supplements could help our bodies strengthen against the potential sickness, or at least support us into bouncing back into health faster and easier. As opposed to my usual, I'm refraining from giving you tons of info, feel free to email me if you want to know about the whys and research, but wanted to be as concise as possible and provide you with links for sources, as being prepared is crucial. Please remember that I'm not a doctor, so please consult your physician if you are experiencing any symptoms of illness or if you have any concerns.

Medicinal mushrooms- I just wrote about adaptogens last week, and I’m bringing them back into the conversation, as these herbs can be very immune supportive, especially mushrooms. Cordyceps and Chaga one of my favorites. I recommend this blend of the main immune supporting ones that is a super star for adults.

Colloidal Silver- Although controversial if you look online, colloidal silver is a great antibacterial, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory. Just make sure you take it along with a probiotic. It can be used with children. Take it at the first signs of illness, and spray it around your seat when traveling in a plane.

Vitamin C- Best to get it from raw (not cooked, as heat affects it), freshly picked food. It’s more effective than in supplement form. Kiwi, strawberries, pineapple, kohlrabi, citrus, mango, papaya, bell peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, kale, guava, parsley, are some of the best sources. 

Oregano, Rosemary, Thyme, Tea Tree-All contain strong antimicrobial compounds. I always have them as essential oils (doTerra, and I can hook you up if interested), but by all means use oregano and rosemary in your cooking. The essential oils are very strong, so I only use them when I really feel like a rag. Take 1 drop 2x a day, dissolved in 1 teaspoon of virgin coconut oil (which also has antimicrobial properties), or use TriGuard, which a friend of mine gifted me once, and I've been re-ordering every time I run out. If you take this blend, skip the colloidal silver, as this contains it along with tea tree oil and olive leaf.

Echinacea- Great option  for children!

Elderberry- If you can make your own extract, by all means, go for it, but you can also find elderberry gummies with zinc, which helps fight infections as well. They do contain some sugar, which should be avoided as much as possible, especially while fighting illness, because it’s inflammatory, but these supplements are still very effective and are great for children, even for super peaky eaters. 

Ginger and Turmeric- Both master immune boosters and anti-inflammatory. Combine turmeric with black pepper and a source of good fats to make cur cumin, its main active compound more easily utilized by your body.

Chicken broth and/or miso soup- Both great for nurturing and mineralizing the body. If you make miso broth: bring water to a boil. Pour it into a cup or bowl, let it cool a bit and then add 1 tablespoon into the hot (not boiling) water, and mix until dissolved, to make sure the probiotics present in miso are still active. If you are sensitive to soy, use chickpea miso instead.

 Photo by Cook Eat from Pexels https://www.pexels.com/photo/stew-with-meat-and-vegetables-placed-in-white-ceramic-bowl-772518/

Photo by Cook Eat from Pexels https://www.pexels.com/photo/stew-with-meat-and-vegetables-placed-in-white-ceramic-bowl-772518/

Probiotics- One of the many pros of healthy live bacteria is to support our immune system. Make sure you get at least 5 million CFU, but if you already take a probiotic on a daily basis, increase to 10 to 15 million. Probiotic foods such as sauerkraut, miso, plain yogurt (I’m in favor of no dairy kind) and other fermented foods.drinks.

On Guard- I love this essential oil blend by DoTerra, it has a warm, sweet smell produced by the powerful compounds of the spices it comes from. We put 1 drop on the soles of our feet at night when sickness is around and diffuse it in all rooms of our home.

Astragalus- Another adaptogen with great immune system support.

Garlic- Preferably raw, but even cooked into your bone broth it is one of the immune master foods there are. Try eating it right after removing it from the bulb and peeling it, that’s when allicin, the main active compound will be the most effective.

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Bee pollen and/or raw honey- The mixture of plant pollens, nectar and bee secretions that constitute bee pollen and are also present in raw (unpasteurized) honey can have antimicrobial properties, besides being highly anti-inflammatory. You can sprinkle pollen on anything, and add a bit (1 to 2 teaspoons) of honey to warm tea or anywhere you'd like sweeten,  just don’t cook them.

Red/Orange Produce- Rich in carotenes that converts into immune supportive vitamin A, carrots, squash, peppers, sweet potatoes, etc should be eaten during colder months, adding a bit of good fat (olive oil, avocado, ghee…) along for better absorption. 

Magic Immune Elixir

 Photo by Mareefe from Pexels https://www.pexels.com/photo/assorted-spices-near-white-ceramic-bowls-678414/

Photo by Mareefe from Pexels https://www.pexels.com/photo/assorted-spices-near-white-ceramic-bowls-678414/

Each one of the ingredients in this elixir is a wonderful disease fighter and immune strengthener. Star anise, is particularly good in helping us fight the flu (it even contains a compound used to manufacture Tamiflu), and can be great for digestive distress. Cinnamon, cayenne are also very antimicrobial.

1 (3-inch) ginger root, rinsed and sliced into thick pieces. Peeled if not organic

1 turmeric root (fresh), peeled and sliced OR 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

2 Ceylon cinnamon sticks

2 Star anise

Pinch black pepper (it activates turmeric)

Pinch cayenne (skip if serving to children and they don’t like spicy food)

4 cups filtered water

1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil

4 teaspoons to 2 tablespoons raw (preferably unfiltered) honey

2 tablespoons raw, organic apple cider vinegar

1 lemon, juiced, and add the zest to the boiling liquid if you want, if using organic fruit

Optional: 4 drops oil of oregano (not for children)

  1. Place ginger, turmeric, cinnamon sticks, star anise, pepper, cayenne, lemons zest (if using) and 4 cups water in a pot over medium high heat. 
  2. Bring to a boil, remove from heat, and let it steep, covered, for about 10 minutes. Strain the liquid into a glass jar or liquid measuring cup and stir in coconut oil, honey, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice and oil of oregano. That's it! You have a reviving elixir ready to enjoy. Drink it warm, cold, or at room temperature. However, do not reheat it once you've added the coconut oil, honey, lemon juice and oil of oregano, because all the active compounds of those ingredients are heat sensitive. So if you will use it later, just brew the spices as indicated, let cool and refrigerate. When you are ready to use, reheat it and once off the heat, and honey & Co. 

Salad Dressing with Super Powers

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Using a few of the foods that can help our immune system can be very tasty. Try preparing this dressing right before serving for maximum strength. You can use it over any kind of salad, the more colorful the better. A suggestion: raw kale, peeled and sliced blood orange, shredded Brussels sprouts, chopped parsley with roasted sweet potatoes and shiitake mushroom bacon (shiitake are also medicinal mushrooms).

1 large carrot, peeled and roughly chopped

3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed

1 (2-inch) long ginger root, peeled and roughly chopped

1 turmeric root (fresh), peeled and sliced OR 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

2 tablespoons organic white (aka mild, sweet) miso paste

2 tablespoons fresh lemon or lime juice, or more to taste

2 tablespoons Ethiopian tahini

3 tablespoons sesame (not toasted), avocado or olive oil

2 tablespoons filtered water, more if needed for consistency

Pinch black pepper (it activates turmeric)

Put all ingredients in a power blender and whizz until vegetables are completely pureed. Add more water, if needed.