Immune System Boosters: Some Foods and Herbs
As recently as 75 years ago the majority of the world’s population were using mostly herbs to heal themselves. Even now the majority of people in third world countries depend on indigenous plants for medicine and many of this medicinal plants are very effective. Some times we forget food is also a healer and not just something that provides nutrition to our body. In many developing countries the practice of herbs and foods to boost the immune system and to heal is used widely.
Now a days we eat overly processed food full of chemicals that has lost its vital nutrient. We eat to much fast food that is full of unhealthy fat. Our fruits and vegetable are not usually fresh. No wonder chronic disease has risen to epidemic proportions and our children are obese and some even have type 2 diabetes already.
We need to return to a more natural and holistic way of life. The trend towards small local farms to grow our food is a step in the right direction. We can get fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables right off the farm. It is good to know where our food comes from and to connect to the land and nature.
We have also forgotten herbs can heal and keep us strong and healthy. they do not work as the modern pharmaceutical medicine which usually targets certain part of the body and has side effects. Herbs work in holistic manner and that is hard to prove scientifically because there are too many variables. But thousands of years of experience with them tell us they do work and we should use them. But we do need to be knowledgeable about them and know how and when to use them.
Foods to Stregthen the Immune System
A common weed you find growing everywhere is dandelion.
Dandelion leaves can be eaten raw as a salad or cooked. It is very delicious as
well as very nutritious with a high amount of potassium among other nutrients. Another common plant nettle is also great for our immune
system. It is usually thought of as an herb but It can be eaten cooked as any green leafy vegetable or the dried
version can be made into tea. Both nettle and dandelion have plenty of folate and the B vitamins which are needed to make neurotransmitters
such as serotonin.This helps lift our mood and energize us when we are
overtired and under stress. Our immune system becomes compromised when we are overtired or
in a sad. Just by lifting our energy level and our mood, these foods strengthen our immunity to disease. Both plants contain plenty of vitamin A, C, and Iron. All these aid in antioxidant activity.
Oats in all its various forms are all medicinal as well as nutritive.
It has plenty of fiber that helps in lowering cholesterol. It has anti oxidant properties and plays an important part in lowering the chances of getting certain kinds of cancers such as prostate and breast cancer. Oates is also a central nervous system relaxant and lowers nervous tension and stress.
We have all heard of the now famous flax seed well known for its antioxidant properties. In my native Ethiopia flax has been an important food as well as medicine for centuries. A drink is made out of it by mixing powdered flax with water and adding honey to it. This is thought of especially healing and strengthenig for women who just delivered a baby. It is mixed with oats to make a special drink when people come down with a cold or a stomach ache. Mixing oats with flax has to be powerful . I do it all the time. I add a heaping spoonful of powdered flax to a bowel of oats for my morning breakfast. I like my flax toasted slightly and then powdered. This is how it is done in Ethiopia for centuries. It brings out a wonderful aroma and a nice test to it. But nutritionist this days say it should be taken row because the omega 3 fatty acids are very labile. So it is up to you to decide.
Another favorite medicinal and a popular snack in Ethiopia is the pumpkin seed. It is used along with another stronger anti parasite medicine to get rid of parasites. It is also sold in city streets as a snack. This has been around in Ethiopia for centuries. Several other nuts such as walnuts, almonds and sunflower seeds provide vital nutrients to our bodies. All this nuts and seeds provide magnesium to our bodies. Magnesium is another nutrients tha keep us in a happy relaxed mood. By warding off stress it helps immune system fight disease
Super foods that are eaten extensively in Ethiopia are legumes which includes the various beans, chick peas, garbanzo peas, lentils, and peas. Most of the proteins people get in Ethiopia comes from this legumes along with its many other nutritional elements such as magnesium, b vitamins, and folate. Throw in a cup of legumes in your soup this winter often and maybe you will avoid a cold or a flue because you are less stressed.
Some Herbs and Spices that Fight Disease and Keep Our Immune System Strong
Common Kitchen Herbs and Spices
- Cinnamon is an antiviral. Use it extensively to cook and use it to spice up your tea
- Turmeric is antioxidant and an antibacterial. Use it in your soups and cooking.
- Holy basil relives stress, fever, bronchitis, asthma. Use it in your soup and smell the aroma.
- Rosemary is a tonic ,stimulant, astringent, and a nervine. Use its essential oil as aromatherapy during time of stress such as interviews and exams. It helps to relaxes nervous tension and improves memory. I dilute the essential oil with jojoba oil and rub a tiny amount under my nose to help me relax and improve my memory when I have an interview. As a culinary herb it is great for roasting meat and to make sauce for pasta dishes.
- Lemon has an antioxidant and anti bacterial properties. It reduces fever and has high amounts of Vitamin C and is an antibiotic and anti diabetic. Use it every day
- Rosehips is chalk full of vitamin c. Drink it as tea with honey.
- Lavender is an anti bacterial, antiseptic, antidepressant, and stimulates bood flow. Use it as an aromatherapy. Most people don’t think of lavender as a culinary herb but I have seen it used in cookies, stews, and marinades. As a medicinal it can be infused and drank.
- Echinacea helps the
immune system fight off disease, and is an immune stimulant. Use the tincture as soon as you feel a cold coming on.
- Lemon balm is used for treating cold sores ( anti viral) herpes simplex. Use the infusion for this purpose.
- St. john’s wort is an anti depressant and anti viral. It is a good alternative to chemical drugs for mild to moderate depression.
- Ginkgo Biloba increases blood flow to the central nervous
system and therefore improves memory and alertness. It enables one to with stand stress and tension.
- Calendula is anti- inflammatory and heals wounds. You can use the ointment for burns, the oil infusion for dry skin and for better complexion.
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