The fact that I can hear “A Marshmallow World” on a Target commercial as I’m writing this means it’s almost holiday season! …Which also means ’tis the season for colds and flus. Fun stuff. It’s during this time of the year when the temperature begins to change drastically that I read my coworkers’ sick day emails almost every morning.
Ever since I started on my real food journey, I can honestly say that the number of times I catch a common cold has gone down significantly, and even when I do feel the sniffles coming on, it doesn’t last more than 48 hours (knock on wood). Also, I haven’t taken over-the-counter cold medications in almost 2 years. When the body isn’t exerting all its efforts into eliminating toxins from processed foods, sugars, and chemicals, the immune system is strengthened and your body can more effectively focus on attacking the virus and getting rid of it quickly.
While keeping a healthy diet and lifestyle can reduce the chance of catching a cold, there are still times you need a boost in your immune system to keep cold and flu at bay. Here are some natural methods you can incorporate to stay healthy during these germy times:
1. Low sugar diet. Did you know the ability for our white blood cells to attack bacteria and viruses is reduced by 50% for 5 hours following eating a high-sugar meal? Which means so many Americans are living everyday with white blood cells that aren’t working optimally. Sugar doesn’t just mean candy and desserts. Processed carbohydrates like bagels, pasta, and cereal turn to high amounts of sugar in the bloodstream. It’s important to maintain a real food diet balanced with protein, complex carbs like vegetables, and good quality fats, especially during cold seasons.
2. Vitamin C. Vitamin C is a great antioxidant that can fight off infections (by making the white blood cells as mentioned above) and boost the immune system. I do not recommend over-the-counter Vitamin C supplements like Emergen-C or Airborne that are full of sugar and negates the purpose of these products. Instead, you can drink fresh lemon tea or eat foods containing plenty of Vitamin C like broccoli, kale, and peppers!
4. Cod liver oil. Cod liver oil is an Omega-3 powerhouse (more so than regular fish oil!) and also contains Vitamin A and D, both of which can reduce fatigue and effectively heal colds and flus when taken together. Vitamin D is especially known to be deficient in most people in the modern world who spend most of their time indoors, and we all need enough of it to regulate our immune system. Cod liver oil comes in liquid or pill form, and just 1 teaspoon or 1 pill a day will give you an edge against winter illnesses. I recommend Blue Ice Fermented Cod Liver Oil.
5. Magnesium. Magnesium is so important for our blood pressure, good sleep, and level of energy. Have you noticed that you are sore and achy all over when you are sick? This means that you are magnesium deficient, since it also contributes greatly to our bone and muscle functions. They say almost 60% of the population is estimated to be deficient in magnesium. This is because our soils are depleted in nutrients, and many of us do not eat enough foods that contain magnesium, like nuts, leafy greens, and grass-fed beef. I suggest you also look into taking supplements like Magnesium Glycinate or Magnesium Citrate.
6. Bone broth. I believe that bone broth is in the top 5 most nutritious foods, which is why I think everyone should have some in their fridge or freezer at all times. It’s also why I am posting a recipe for it! When we are sick, tired, and stressed, our body becomes drained of minerals and amino acids. Bone broth is ridiculously rich in nutrients, especially those that our body thrives on, and it can help replenish those minerals and amino acids necessary to speed up the healing process.
Not only does it support our bodies’ detoxification process, it can heal our gut, support our digestion, and promote skin health because it’s rich in gelatin. I always save bones leftover from a dish and wash and freeze them to make bone broth at home. You can also buy bones separately, and even good quality, grass-fed bones are inexpensive. I bought 3.5 lbs of veal bones for $2.50/lb, which is a great deal. You can use good quality bones from any animal.
This is another recipe you’ll love if you own a slow cooker. Everything goes into it and you set it for at least 12 hours. The longer it cooks, the more nutrients from the bones will be leeched out so don’t be afraid to cook it for a long time. I set mine for 24 hours.
By the end of it, your bones should be soft, even crumbly, and the vegetables mushy. You can strain out the solids and throw them out.
I like to put the finished broth in the fridge for about 2-3 hours so the fat floats to the top and hardens. This way you can easily remove it. I like to save the fat and use it for cooking… kind of like what many people would do with bacon fat.
You can strain it for the final time after this and store in the fridge or freezer. Warm it up when you need an immunity boost or in any recipe that requires stock or broth. A bone broth chicken soup is amazing. And it’s SO much better than the store bought stuff!
Lastly, I want to remind everyone to get plenty of rest when you are sick! We all live in a busy stressful world, where even a minute is too precious to waste. However, you aren’t being productive if you are still trying to work or get things done while you feeling ill. You’ll only stay sicker longer, and the stress you put on yourself can even worsen the symptoms.
What are some natural remedies for cold and flu symptoms that works for you?
- 3-4 lb high quality bones from any animal
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 1 medium onion, quartered
- 5 garlic cloves
- 1.5 tbsp organic apple cider vinegar
- Filtered water
Place the bones (frozen or thawed) and the vegetables in a 6 quart slow cooker.
Pour apple cider vinegar over the mixture.
Pour filtered water over everything up to the top.
Set slow cooker to low for 12-24 hours.
Strain the broth and discard the soft bones and vegetables.
Refrigerate the broth until the fat floats to the top and hardens.
Remove the fat and discard it or save for later.
Store the broth in the fridge or freezer.
It's normal for the broth to look gelatinous, kind of like jell-o when it's completely cooled. It means it's holding all those nutrients from the bones and the vegetables!
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