Have you avoided the flu this year? This year's strain seems especially virulent and it's nearly impossible to avoid exposure. I'm down with a cold now and that's got me thinking about the factors that have made me vulnerable and what I can do to get better fast. Here are some foods to add to your eating plan to minimize infections like cold and flu:
APPLE CIDER VINEGAR - Add a tablespoon to 2 ounces of clean water in a shot glass and throw it back once a day to improve pH and make your body inhospitable to pathogens.
BAKING SODA - If you're already congested, some people swear by the Neti pot: use 1/2 tsp baking soda and 1/2 tsp Himalayan salt dissolved in distilled water once or twice a day.
CHILE PEPPERS - The capsaicin in hot peppers will relieve congestion, minimize intestinal discomfort and soothe a sore throat. Counterintuitive but proven. Eat enough to make you sweat. Maybe it's an induced fever, and the circulation helps fire up your immune system.
COCONUT OIL - The darling of real foodists, coconut oil actually has anti-viral, anti-mirobial and anti-inflammatory properties due to the immune-boosting medium chain fatty acids. Work two tablespoons a day into your meals by using it to sauté vegetables and meat, or simply melt it into your tea. You can also add a drop of eucalyptus oil and use as a decongesting chest rub.
FERMENTED VEGETABLES - Boost your immune system by adding good gut bacteria in fermented vegetables like raw sauerkraut and pickles (not the vinegar kind - find Bubbie's brand) or kimchi (which usually has garlic and chili peppers too).
GARLIC - This legendary germ killer needs no introduction - people have been warding off infection and vampires with it for millennia. Raw is best: crushed into your food just before eating to release the potent sulphur compound allicin. Aim for one clove with each meal.
GINGER ROOT - Another wonder food, ginger is easy to integrate into your meals: slice and steep in tea, chop and add to stir fry or stew or simply chew on a piece of the root.
OREGANO OIL - A powerful anti-viral, dilute a few drops into water and swallow twice a day. Do not expect food to eliminate the symptoms of cold and flu right away like a drug might. The suppression of symptoms is not to be confused with healing.
Blame it on work, your kids or global warming, but the truth is that the state of your immunity at the time of exposure is what determines whether you get sick or not. If you can create an internal environment that is inhospitable to flu bugs (pathogens) and avoid contact with the contagious then you may have a better chance of avoiding infection.
Remember that food as medicine is preventive and curative so try these tips even if you aren't sick.