Let’s face it: With Autumn in full-swing, and Winter just around the corner, tis’ the season to come down with a cold or two. While we all do our best avoid getting sick, sometimes catching a virus is totally unavoidable. Instead of reaching for a cocktail of drugs from the pharmacy, why not open a cabinet or a drawer in your very own kitchen and make some natural cold remedies?
You’ll be surprised to know that there are many at home remedies made from natural foods that can bring some much needed relief. For this week’s Foodie-Phile segment, I’ve compiled a list of some pretty useful foods and remedies that are right under your nose (runny or otherwise). Make sure to check out Green Diva Meg’s Natural Health Elixir, which is great for boosting immunity from colds and seasonal allergies — at the end of this post!
Bananas are power fruits. They are full vitamin B6, which is imperative for fighting-off infection. Have achy muscles? The potassium found in bananas could help alleviate that as well. Dice up a banana with peanut butter for some extra protein. You really can’t go wrong.
This spice is full of capsaicin, which can beat congestion by decreasing the mucus in your nasal passages to clear your airways. It’s a great alternative to a nasal spray for sure. Eating spicy food of any kind, however, releases endorphin’s which can help the body relax. You can put cayenne pepper in a wide array of dishes — from soups, to fajitas (or GD Meg’s natural health elixir – see below).
Garlic is full of allicin, which is found in freshly crushed garlic. It blocks enzymes that could potentially lead to an infection. I personally eat a little garlic everyday to decrease my chances of even getting sick in the first place. You can use this food in basically anything; from pesto, guacamole, or fish, to meats, soups or maybe in a salad dressing. Studies have shown that those consuming garlic daily are two-thirds less likely to catch a cold.
4. Sweet Potatoes and Carrots
Both of these foods are LOADED with beta-carotene (which is a form of vitamin A). Your body uses this vitamin to increase your white blood cells to fight infection. I personally recommend sweet potatoes mashed or roasted, while I prefer like carrots steamed and simple. These three cooking methods lock in the most nutrients.
People who drank 5 cups of black a day were found to have 10 times more interferon in their blood than those who chose not to drink it. The amino acid responsible (L-theanine) is also found in green tea and decaffeinated versions. Black Tea (Green Tea, too) appear to reduce inflammation and prevent the growth of some bacterium, particularly in the mouth. Tea in general contains antioxidants, such as flavonoids and catechins that have an anti-microbial effect. Check out GD Meg’s great post on Earl Grey Tea for more details and health benefits of black tea
6. Ginger Root
This food is a very common remedy in traditional Chinese medicine that is used to treat coughs. It also helps colds accompanied by a runny nose with clear nasal discharge, neck and shoulder muscle aches and headaches. It is also used in traditional medicine of India for similar reasons. I’ve also heard that ginger is incorporated on ever type of food possible by Cruise Ship chefs to prevent seasickness due to it’s stomach soothing properties. Why not find a great ginger tea and adding honey or lemon?
Lemons are the ultimate army to fight off a cold or sickness. They contain several nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin B5, calcium, potassium, antioxidants, copper, zinc, manganese, selenium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, natural sugars and fiber. Lemon juice even has medicinal properties in it such as antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic, ant- tumor, anti-cancerous and anti-inflammatory. While I would never just eat one plain (for one obvious, very puckery reason), they can be added to many different recipes or even with warm water/tea to create a soothing drink for sore throats.
Honey has been used for centuries as a way to ward off a cold or virus due to its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties that sooth sore throats. It also decreases inflammation of the throat muscles and kills bacteria that could cause an infection. A lot of professional singers take honey to calm their vocal cords and throats before performing. If the trick works for them, then it’s a sure bet that honey will allow you to speak comfortably soon enough.
There are about a thousand health benefits of using apple cider vinegar, especially the raw kind. GD Meg prefers Bragg and you can visit their site to read about just some of the amazing uses for ACV. Also, in addition to the reasons to love honey listed above, local raw honey is also noted to be good at combating local seasonal allergies. GD Meg combined these powerhouse healthy foods with some other notable spices to create a nightly health elixir that keeps the colds and allergies at bay. Heres her recipe:
1 Tbls – Local raw honey
3 – 4 Tbls – raw organic apple cider vinegar (with the mother)
1/4 cup – warm (NOT boiling) water
pinch – organic cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp – organic turmeric
1/8 tsp – organic cloves
1/8 tsp – organic ground cinnamon
I use filtered water and heat it up to almost boiling, but take it off the heat before it boils. Boiling water or water that is too hot will destroy the beneficial enzymes in both the raw honey and the apple cider vinegar, so this is kind of important. Mix it all together in a mug and let it sit until the honey is dissolved. I drink this every night about an hour before bed.
Banana Image via Shutterstock
Cayenne Pepper Image via Shutterstock
Garlic Image via Shutterstock
Carrot Image via Shutterstock
Tea Image via Shutterstock
Ginger Root Image via Shutterstock
Lemon Image via Shutterstock