Foods for Winter Wellness

Colds and influenzas are common in the winter months. They are not, however, inevitable, and if you do find yourself under the weather, it doesn't have to be a long suffering experience.  If you support your immune system you will find that you can get through annoying illnesses much faster and maybe even avoid them all together.  

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Some great foods for aiding in relief and prevention of colds:

  • Garlic
  • Turmeric
  • Ginger
  • Raw honey 

1. Raw garlic is a tough one for people, but if you can manage to eat some raw garlic when you start to feel the onset of something, or simply have spent your day in a office with sick people, it can work wonders.  I chew it and eat it like a badass, which sucks, but I think works better (maybe I'm kidding myself, but I've heard it releases more of the medicinal properties) but you can also chop it into small pieces and swallow it. 

2. A tea made of hot water with turmeric and ginger powders with some raw honey is great for chest congestion.

3. Eat nutrient dense foods.  Cooking and eating for immunity means consuming a large variety of micronutrients to support your body's functions.  It also means making it easier on your digestive system by properly preparing your grains and legumes.  It's amazing how many people don't think that they can eat grains and/or beans and it is because they don't know how to properly prepare them.  For tips on preparing beans, visit one of my earlier posts entitled Don't Fear the Bean.

Grains also need to be presoaked.  I know that this is a less talked about topic, but many grains contain phytates that can inhibit digestion and absorption.  Soaking grains in water with something acidic (ex. 2 T of vinegar or lemon juice) will do the trick.  A few hours to overnight is ideal, but even a last minute 30-60 minutes is better than nothing.  Strain the grains and use fresh liquid when cooking.  As an added bonus: your cooking time will decrease if you've presoaked.

(There is also the kefir/buttermilk/yogurt option which I personally like, but I imagine freaks some people out.  If you want to soak your oatmeal in kefir, buttermilk or yogurt, be sure to cover it!)

Another great option is sprouting your grains or beans.  Mung beans are especially great for sprouting and grains such as quinoa and buckwheat are great for beginners.  Sprouted grains/legumes are much more easily digestible and super easy.  Initially soak your grains/legumes in cool water for a few hours - overnight.  Then drain them in a mesh strainer.  Keep them in the strainer, and 4 times a day or so, take the strainer to the sink, rinse them in cool water and set them aside.  Little tails will start to form within a day or two.  Voilร ! Sprouted. You can let them keep going and create full-on sprouts, or leave it and cook with them immediately.

4.  Another thing to keep in mind is eating seasonally and intuitively.  Most people want warming stews over raw salads in the winter.  This natural inclination does not need to be fought.  I'm not saying to abandon fruits and vegetables, not at all, but prepare them in a way that feels good to you.  Winter squashes, roots and tubers are very appropriate for this time of year and actually have nutrient profiles that support our bodies in the colder months. 

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Katie Dawn Habib

Katie Dawn Habib is a Holistic Nutrition Coach with a M.S. in Nutrition and Integrative Health. By combining her nutrition knowledge with a love of writing, Katie created her own website, The Hungry Gypsy, where she talks about food, nutrition, wellness and travel. On her site you can also find information about her nutrition coaching practice and join in on the conversations. Katie would like to contribute in some small way to global healing and help her clients and readers feel inspired.