Food is more than just fuel to run the body – it is medicine when chosen wisely. Not only do we need to pay attention to macronutrients like carbohydrates, fats and proteins, but we need to focus on micronutrients like vitamins, minerals trace elements and essential fatty acids.
For example, we need zinc to regulate our white blood cells, and magnesium to assist in over 300 biochemical reactions in the body. Essential fatty acids are the building blocks for hormones as well as for molecules that help regulate pain and inflammation. It’s clear that getting enough vitamins and minerals in our body will have a major impact on our daily health.
If we’re constantly consuming foods that only have macronutrients, but very little micronutrients, we’ll feel less than optimal. This is especially true for when the winter months roll around, and fresh food becomes hard to come by (unless it is imported thousands of miles away). There’s a reason why most people get sicker in winter, and most of it has to do with poor food choices, lack of sunlight and fresh air.
Medicine In A Cup
Consuming warming, nutrient-dense foods in the winter is one of the best defences against surprise illness. Ginger, cumin, and cinnamon, according to Chinese medicine, are key spices to eat regularly from late fall to early spring.
A cold environment also makes the upper respiratory tract more hospitable to the common cold (1). When exposed to cold weather, our bodies produce fewer antiviral immune signals, which means a more compromised immune system. When we don’t take enough time to replenish ourselves after an initial cold, we become vulnerable to future infection. This is why so many people can get stuck in a never ending cycle of sickness when they don’t eat well, sleep enough or exercise regularly.
One of my favourite remedies against illness are fresh green juices, soups loaded with antiviral ingredients, and fresh, ripe fruit.
This ginger garlic soup contains ingredients that’ll fight off infection and keep your immune system strong throughout the winter months.
Garlic has amazing anti-viral and anti-inflammatory benefits, and has the ability to prevent the common cold if taken for at least three months at a time. It has also been shown to shorten the duration of a cold (2).
Ginger is another great soup addition as it reduces inflammation and swelling, which is great for anyone suffering from a cold or flu. It helps improve digestion and nausea, and can soothe any sore throat. Ginger acts as an antiviral for the treatment of cold and flu, thanks to its warming effect on the body (3).
Astragalus root is another important ingredient that has been used for centuries to strengthen every avenue of the body. It boosts the immune response, lowers blood pressure, regulates blood sugar, and improves liver function. It is also particularly known to help against the common cold, allergic rhinitis, and hayfever (4).
Onions are also added to this ginger garlic soup, and for good reason too. They’re potent antivirals, and contain quercetin, a heart-healthy flavonoid that boosts the immune response and relieves allergy symptoms (5).
Ingredients: (serves 2)
– 6 cups vegetable broth (homemade is best, but you can use organic low-sodium cubes if you please)
– 3 tablespoons grated ginger root
– 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
– 4 green onions, finely sliced
– 1 medium onion, finely diced
– 1 teaspoon dried astragalus root
1. In a large pot, add the garlic, ginger, onions and a little bit of coconut or olive oil if you please. For extra flavour, you can add in some chopped mushrooms.
2. Cook on medium heat until the onions are translucent and the mushrooms are soft.
3. Add in the stock, and astragalus, and bring up the heat until the soup comes to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes. Add in the green onions, and cook for another 5 minutes. After this point, you can discard the astragalus.
4. Enjoy the soup hot, and store the remainder in the fridge for a few days. You can add some fresh sprouts on top if you please.