Why is Bone Broth So Good for You?

written by Jessica Tilley

chicken soup, bon broth, soup

written byJessica Tilley

March 13th is National Chicken Noodle Soup Day and with the weather that we’ve been experiencing lately in Toronto, it couldn’t of come at a better time.  These days bone broth has become increasingly popular.  Although bone broth may sound intimidating, it's actually not all that different from making chicken soup (except that it is cooked for longer).

There’s something about curling up with a hot bowl of chicken noodle soup (or bone broth makes us quite happy too) that we love here at The Living Kitchen. Even though chicken soup is great to have at any time, most of us associate it with being sick. Although chicken soup isn’t going to cure you from the flu, it can help relieve the unbearable symptoms. There have been studies conducted that show that this broth has beneficial properties when trying to fend off the flu.

Similar to hot tea, hot soup helps to sooth a sore throat and the heat helps to clear congestion. Protein from the chicken provides a specific amino acid, cysteine, which also aids in the break down of mucus. The vegetables used in cooking the broth provide many vitamins and minerals.

Now normally chicken noodle soup is made with vegetable broth or chicken stock, but one way to increase the nutrients in a dish like this is to swap the broth or chicken stock for bone broth. Recently there has been a lot of talk about the health benefits of bone broth, and for a good reason. Bone broth helps with inflammation, infections, and healthy digestion. Our favourite benefit of bone broth is that it aids in cancer prevention. Bone broth contains certain amino acids that are essential for a healthy immune system and liver. The bone marrow also produces lipids, which are important for the formation of white blood cells. The same type of lipids that are found in bone borrow are linked to controlling cancer cell growth.  The bone marrow also contains collagen, which will break down into gelatin, which studies have found may prevent cancer growth development as well as support and strengthen the digestive tract. 

Making bone broth is very similar to making chicken soup. The process starts out the same by roasting and simmering the bones in a liquid. The difference is the amount of time it is simmering away. Opposed to the 2-4 hours it normally takes to make chicken stock, making bone broth takes about 24 hours, or until the bones can be crushed between your two fingers. To ensure you are getting all the proper health benefits, it is recommended to use the bones from an organic, hormone-free, free-range raised animal, like all the meat we use here at The Living Kitchen.

Stay tuned and we'll share a bone broth recipe soon!


Resources:
D. (2015, April 07). Chicken Noodle Soup: An Effective Remedy for the Common Cold? Retrieved March 08, 2017, from http://www.dovemed.com/healthy-living/wellness-center/chicken-noodle-soup-effective-remedy-common-cold/

Desaulniers , V., Dr. (2016, November 22). 5 Ways Bone Broth Boosts Your Immune System and Fights Cancer. Retrieved March 10, 2017, from http://beatcancer.org/blog-posts/5-ways-bone-broth-boosts-your-immune-system-and-fights-cancer

Mercola, Dr. (2013, December 16). Bone Broth: One of Your Most Healing Diet Staples. Retrieved March 09, 2017, from http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/12/16/bone-broth-benefits.aspx

Zabinski, J. (2015, October 12). SiOWfa15: Science in Our World: Certainty and Controversy. Retrieved March 10, 2017, from https://sites.psu.edu/siowfa15/2015/10/12/chicken-noodle-soup-the-magic-cure/

How to Make Homemade Kimchi + Fermented Foods

kimchi homemade, fermented foods

 

written by Rebecca Moutoussidis

Ah, fermented foods. Typically, most people cringe at the thought of the food we eat being full of bacteria, but fermentation is actually an age-old tradition dating as far back as 6000 BC; it was used originally to help preserve food and even change the texture and flavour of it to make it more palatable. Some of the earliest known fermented foods include cheeses, wine, yeasted breads, and vinegar. The process of fermentation involves introducing good bacteria into food and allowing it to grow inside of it. This may sound gross and super unsanitary, but good bacteria, or probiotics, are vital to our health.  Certain strains of probiotics found in fermented foods can aid in microbial balance inside our gastrointestinal tract. This prevents digestive inflammation and helps to promote a healthy immune system. It’s very important that our gut flora is healthy, as they make up a whopping 80% of our immune system. There are over 100 trillion bacteria cells, about three pounds worth, living in your intestinal tract. They help to protect us against pathogens by taking up all of the living space inside of our digestive system, making competition for survival very difficult for the bad bacteria. 

Here at Living Kitchen, we love all sorts of probiotic foods. Some of our favourites include miso paste, sauerkraut, kombucha, and raw apple cider vinegar, but the star of today is kimchi. Native to Korea, this spicy cabbage condiment is full of probiotic goodness and can be used in many different ways. Use it as a flavouring base for soups and sauces, put it on top of veggie burgers, in sandwiches, pair it with rice, or (my personal favourite) just eat it straight out of the jar! It’s super easy to make and is a great way to use up leftover vegetables in the fridge.  The most basic kimchi ingredients are the following:

- Napa Cabbage

- Non- iodized salt (we love sea salt)

 -Gochujang Red Pepper Powder

-Daikon or radishes

-Carrots

-Green onions

-Fresh Garlic and Ginger

The red pepper powder can usually be found in most Asian grocery stores, however, if you can’t find it, I’ve substituted sambal olek (a chili garlic paste also found in Asian grocery stores) and even regular chili powder and they’ve still turned out great. Whatever you’re using, make sure you have plenty of spice on hand because you will usually need anywhere between 3 tbsp to ½ cup of it, depending on how spicy you want your kimchi to be. 

This recipe is very simple, but there are a few things to keep in mind:

Important things to keep in mind:

  • Because you will be working with bacteria and leaving food to ferment, you want to make sure all utensils and jars are sanitized to prevent bad bacteria from growing in your kimchi. To do this, soak your utensils in boiling water for at least 10 minutes. Use metal and glass utensils, bowls, and jars because they are safer and are less likely to harbour bacteria.
     
  • General reduction of sodium is usually a good thing, but for this recipe, you need to add the specified amount of salt because it acts as a preservative, protecting your kimchi from mold spores and other harmful bacterial growth. Do not try to reduce the amount of salt in this recipe! 
     
  • Once you get a hang of making your own kimchi, start experimenting with new ingredients. I personally love to add green onion and granny smith apples to my kimchi, but get creative! 
     
  • The fermentation time will vary for each person. Leave it for ferment for 2-5 days, depending on how sour and intensely flavoured you want your kimchi to be. Make sure the kimchi is always covered in liquid at all times! Top it up with more water if needed. Taste test it every day, when you’re happy with the flavours, transfer your jars to the fridge. They will keep for up to one month refrigerated. 

Simple Kimchi Recipe

One head of napa cabbage, chopped into 1 inch pieces
½ cup of non-iodized sea salt
3 carrots, grated or finely julienned  
½ daikon radish, grated or finely julienned
5 cloves of garlic, chopped finely or grated
3 inch piece of ginger, chopped finely or grated
3 tbsp gochujang powder, sambal olek, or chili powder, or more to taste
3 tbsp raw honey, maple syrup, or coconut sugar 

Directions:
1. Dissolve the salt into 3 L (12 cups) of water. Add the napa cabbage slices and leave submerged for 2-24 hours, until the cabbage is wilted.  Rinse out the cabbage with cold running water to get rid of the excess salt.

2. In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients, adding up to ¼ cup water to help mix the spices into the vegetables. 

3. Using clean tongs, pack the kimchi mixture into sterilized jars, filling them up about halfway. Make sure to add the residual liquid into the jars, the top of the kimchi should be fully submerged in the liquid. Top up the jars with extra water if needed. 

4. Secure a piece of cheesecloth with a rubber band on the top of each jar and leave them to ferment in a dark, dry place for 2-5 days. Good signs of fermentation include bubbles forming in the liquid (from the gas produced by fermentation) and a sharp, slightly acidic aroma. 

5. Once the kimchi flavour is as intense as you want it to be, put a lid on each jar and keep in the fridge. It will continue to ferment, but much more slowly due to the cold temperature. 

Enjoy! 

 

 

References

Foroutan, R. MS RD. (2012). The History and Health Benefits of Fermented Foods. Retrieved from http://www.foodandnutrition.org/Winter-2012/The-History-and-Health-Benefits-of-Fermented-Food/

Mercola, J. (2003). 100 Trillion Bacteria in Your Gut: Learn How to Keep the Good Kind There. Retrieved from http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2003/10/18/bacteria-gut.aspx

Rose, Cardamom and Earl Grey Latte

written by Rebecca Moutoussidis

rose, cardamom, early grey latte, ginger snap cookies, Valentine's Day, gluten free, Dairy free

With the cold, gloomy weather in Toronto, we’re naturally keeping cozy with delicious warm drinks. Wellness lattes are becoming a popular drink of choice lately, and many health food restaurants and cafes are now selling a wide array of warm superfood drinks. Chaga hot chocolate, turmeric golden milk, and matcha lattes are all really popular, but we at Living Kitchen love to experiment with new flavours. 

A while back, I was on Pinterest and came across this recipe for a rose and earl grey latte, and was inspired to make a wellness latte based around these flavours. Valentine’s Day is today and the combination of these flavours matches this holiday perfectly! After loads of testing, I finally developed a delicious, fragrant recipe for a Rose, Cardamom, and Earl Grey latte. If you’ve ever had a London Fog, you’ll love this healthy and soothing alternative! 

Earl grey tea contains bergamot, a citrus oil which is known for its uplifting properties. A 2014 study on 58 hospice patients showed that all participants who simply applied a blend of oil containing bergamot to their hands reported less pain and a decrease in depression symptoms. Every single patient reported this! Bergamot is also known to reduce stress and anxiety. 

Cardamom, another main flavour in this latte, is believed to also contain anti-depressive properties. It is also known to prevent bad breath as well as infections of the throat and mouth and mouth ulcers. It also contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. 

Rose, the last main flavour in this latte, has several health benefits. The compounds found in roses are the reason behind this flower’s anti-depressive and anti-anxiety properties. It carries a plethora of health benefits; it is antiseptic and antiviral, helps to treat menstrual cramps, and is also a very well-known aphrodisiac. 

This wellness latte is refined sugar free and vegan, so that everybody can enjoy it. It’s incredibly soothing, and is the perfect Valentine’s Day drink! Whip one up for yourself or special someone today!

Rose, Cardamom and Earl Grey Latte 

Serves 2

½ cup dried edible rose petals
½ cup maple syrup
6 green cardamom pods, crushed
3 tbsp water
2 dates (optional if you want to add more sweetness)
½ tsp rosewater (optional- leave this out if you don’t want a very strong rose taste)
3 tsp loose leaf earl grey tea, or 2 teabags
1 ½ cups non-dairy milk (We used coconut milk, but any non-dairy milk will do!)

Crushed dried rose petals, for garnish

 

Directions:

To make the syrup:

1. Combine the rose petals, maple syrup, cardamom pods and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer very gently for 20 minutes, until reduced by about 1/3. Strain liquid into a container, pressing the rose petals against the strainer to extract as much syrup and release their colour as much as possible.  

2. If using the dates, pour syrup back into the saucepan and add the dates. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low, and simmer for an additional 7-10 minutes, until dates are very soft and begin to fall apart.  Remove from heat and pass the mixture through a fine sieve,  pressing the softened dates through with the back of a spoon. 

3. Add rosewater if desired. 

To make the lattes:

1. Bring 1 cup of water to a boil and steep the tea for 2-5 minutes, depending on how strong you like your tea. 

2. Heat the milk to just below a simmer over the stove and use a whisk or milk frother to develop a layer of foam if desired. 

3. Pour 1 ½ tbsp of rose syrup into a mug. Fill the mug halfway with the steeped tea and top with the hot, frothy milk. Garnish with crushed rose petals and enjoy!  

 

References: 

Peterson, D. (2017). Anxious or Feeling Down: Can Essential Oils Help? Retrieved from http://info.achs.edu/blog/depression-and-anxiety-can-essential-oils-help

Mercola, J. (2016). The Blissful Benefits of Bergamot Oil. Retrieved from http://articles.mercola.com/herbal-oils/bergamot-oil.aspx

Pulsiper, C. (2013). 15 Health Benefits of Cardamom. Retrieved fromhttps://sunwarrior.com/healthhub/15-health-benefits-of-cardamom

Organic Facts. (n.d.) Health Benefits of Cardamom. Retrieved from https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/herbs-and-spices/health-benefits-of-cardamom.html

Organic Facts. (n.d.) Health Benefits of Rose Essential Oil. Retrieved from https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/essential-oils/health-benefits-of-rose-essential-oil.html

3 Cancer Prevention Foods You Didn't Know About

cancer prevention foodsjpg

World Cancer Day is this Saturday, February 4. Continuing with the Union for International Cancer Control’s three-year campaign slogan “We Can, I Can”, this day highlights how we, both as a society and as individuals, can reduce the burden of cancer. Cancer affects everyone, but we all have the ability to lessen the impact this disease has on individuals, families, and communities. There are a number of Key Messages that the UICC suggests we, both independently and together, should be focusing on pushing in order to help fight cancer. These messages (which you can find on their campaign website),  range from  promoting healthier cities and work environments to shaping policy changes. Two of UICC’s Key Messages stood out to us here at Living Kitchen:  Make Healthy Lifestyle Choices, and Prevent Cancer. 

We are what we eat, quite literally. The food that we put into our bodies has a tremendous impact on our health. Something as simple as changing what you eat could drastically lower your chance of developing cancer. For example, it has been established that a diet high in red meats, refined grains, and added sugars increases the risk of colorectal cancer; if you were to cut out those risk increasing factors and replace them with more plant based options, less added sugars, and whole grains, you would be lowering your chances of developing that type of cancer.

There is no doubt that there are certain foods that are renowned for their cancer fighting properties: Cruciferous vegetables, turmeric, and garlic are all disease fighting superfoods that come to mind. However, there are some lesser known foods that pack just as big of a punch when it comes to food for cancer prevention. This World Cancer Day, we can take a stand against this disease by making healthy lifestyle choices to prevent cancer.

Here’s our list of foods that are linked with cancer prevention, that you might not know about! 

 

Probiotic/ Fermented Foods

Did you know that 80% of your immune system resides within your gut? This is thanks to the hundreds of billions of microflora that live in your digestive system. They enhance immune function, regulate bowel movements, and enhance nutrient absorption. The probiotics found in fermented foods provide the gut with good bacteria. This in turn regulates your bowels, and also prevents unwanted infections and pathogens as the good bacteria outnumber the bad. Probiotics have also been shown to possess anti-tumor properties, and support cells that are responsible for fighting infections and tumors.  These powerful bacteria are found in fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, and even in sourdough bread! They’re also available in supplement form for convenience.  

 

Supergreens: Spirulina, Chlorella, Wheatgrass

If you’re looking to get a super concentrated amount of nutrients in the smallest amount of food, supergreens are your new best friend. Spirulina, a blue-green algae, contains all of the essential amino acids, several B vitamins (including folate!), and is high in iron, but its superfood properties don’t stop there. Studies have shown that spirulina helps to stop cancer cells from replicating; if cells can’t replicate, cancer can’t spread. It can be found in powder, tablet, or capsule form and makes a wonderful addition to smoothies, juices, and even soups. Chlorella is another supergreen that is a close cousin to spirulina. As well as being a great source of omega-3’s, it’s been shown to increase energy in breast cancer patients, prevent DNA damage, and even induce cancer cell death. Just like with spirulina, it can be found in powder, tablet and capsule form.  Other super greens to look for and try out include wheatgrass and chlorophyll. 

 

Mushrooms

Despite having been studied for their medicinal properties for ages, mushrooms are not always in the spotlight for their cancer-fighting properties as much as they should be. Known for having anti-cancer, antioxidant, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, mushrooms certainly are a powerful superfood. They also contain prebiotics, not to be confused with probiotics! Prebiotics are a specialized plant fibre which helps to feed the good bacteria in the gut. Think of it as a fertilizer for the good bacteria found in probiotic foods. Another awesome thing about mushrooms is their immunomodulating properties- they can help to regulate your immune system. A word of warning though: Not all mushrooms are created equally. The best mushrooms to eat that contain these wonderful benefits are shiitake, enoki, cremini, oyster, reishi, portobello, chaga, hen-of-the-woods, and turkey tail. 

written by Rebecca Moutoussidis

 

References:

Jackson, F. M.D . (2016). Prebiotics vs. Probiotics. Retrieved from https://www.prebiotin.com/prebiotin-academy/what-are-prebiotics/prebiotics-vs-probiotics/

Fung, T.T. & Brown, L.S. Curr Nutr Rep (2013) 2: 48. doi:10.1007/s13668-012-0031-1

Gilhuly, K. (2015). Spirulina and Vitamin B Deficiencies. Retrieved from  http://www.livestrong.com/article/492033-spirulina-b-vitamin-deficiencies/

World Cancer Day 2016-2018 (2017). Theme- We Can. I Can. Retrieved from  http://www.worldcancerday.org/about/2016-2018-world-cancer-day-campaign

Yu, Ai-Qun, et al.  “The potential role of probiotics in cancer prevention and treatment.” Nutrition and Cancer, vol. 68, no. 4: May-June 2016: pp. 535-544.

Maleki, Davood, et al, “Probiotics in Cancer Prevention, Updating Evidence,” Probiotics, Prebiotics and Synbiotics: Bioactive Foods in Health Promotion, 2016: pp. 781-791.

Zhujun, Wang, et. al. “Inhibitory effects of small molecular peptides from Spirulina (Arthrospira) platensis on cancer cell growth.” Food & Function, vol. 7, 2016: 781-788.

Gorjzdadeh, Homan, et. al. “Fatty acid composition of Spirulina sp., Chlorella sp. and Chaetoceros sp. microalgae and introduction as potential new sources to extinct omega 3 and omega 6.” Iranian South Medical Journal, vol. 19, no. 2: pp. 212-224.

Noguchi, Naoto, et. al. “The Influence of Chlorella and Its Hot Water Extract Supplementation on Quality of Life in Patients with Breast Cancer.” Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2014, 2014 March. 

Yusof, Yasmin Anum Mohd, et al. “Hot Water Extract of Chlorella Vulgaris Induced DNA Damage and Apoptosis.” Clinics, vol. 65, no.12, 2010: pp. 1371–1377. 

Patel Seema, et al. “Recent developments in mushrooms as anti-cancer therapeutics: a review.” 3 Biotech. vol. 2, no. 1, Mar  2012: pp. 1-15.

Matcha and Adzuki Bean Muffins (the best tasting healthy muffins ever)

matcha tea muffins, matcha adzuki bean muffins, vegan, gluten free, breakfast, the living kitchen, toronto, recipe

 

We’ve all heard it before: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. And that is absolutely true. It’s important that we nourish our bodies in the morning, because of how long we go without eating due to being asleep during the night. Eating breakfast also provides fuel for us, making tasks such as going to school or work much less stressful on our brain, increasing our performance and making it easier to concentrate on what we need to do.

Breakfast is definitely important, but what’s even more important is what you eat for your first meal. Common breakfast foods such as sweetened cereals, muffins, croissants, scones, toast, and bagels all have a high Glycemic Index (GI), meaning they have simple carbohydrates that break down quickly once digested, spiking our blood glucose levels. They provide a burst of energy for us, but our blood glucose levels decline as quickly as they rise. This results in us getting hungry for lunch quicker and feeling sluggish due to the crash of blood glucose levels. Not optimal for people with busy school and work schedules!

Fortunately, studies have shown that eating foods that are Low GI, such as almonds, legumes, pure maple syrup, and steel cut oats, have more complex carbohydrates that are broken down slower than their higher GI counterparts, resulting in a more steady and slow increase in blood sugar levels, meaning we don’t experience the same kind of crash and post-breakfast hunger that we would if we were to eat something that contained more simple sugars. Low GI foods are also known to steady insulin levels, preventing our bodies from developing insulin resistance. 

The Journal of Clinical and Translational Endocrinology conducted a study to see how low GI breakfasts and snacks could affect overall blood glucose profiles. They concluded:

Consumption of a low GI breakfast and afternoon snack was capable of attenuating 24-h blood glucose profiles, minimize glycemic excursions and reduce food intake…This simple dietary intervention may be an acceptable approach in improving overall glycemia and energy balance.”

These Matcha and Adzuki Bean muffins are a delicious on-the-go breakfast, with tons of health benefits. They are gluten and grain free, made with hearty chickpea and almond flours, both low GI foods to keep you feeling full until lunch. Adzuki beans (aside from being super tasty) are a great source of fibre, which helps to keep bowel movements regular; they also are a good source of magnesium, zinc, iron, copper, potassium, manganese and B Vitamins, such as niacin, thiamin and riboflavin. Alongside these health benefits, they’re also- you guessed it- Low GI to help avoid the dreaded post-breakfast crash. 

Matcha green tea powder is revered for its amazing antioxidant properties. A serving contains 34 mg of caffeine, which is perfect for waking up on early mornings, but due to an amino acid found in matcha called L-Theanine, the caffeine is released slowly into the body, meaning you get a longer, more gradual energy increase rather than the caffeine rush and crash that we all know coffee is responsible for.

These muffins are packed with nutrients, healthy fats, are gluten and grain free, refined free, and vegan! They’re almost too good to be true. Make a batch during your meal prep day to have these on hand for your busy weekdays. Enjoy! 

 

Matcha and Adzuki Bean Muffins 

This recipe is adapted from a video on Ryoya Takashima’s Youtube Channel “Peaceful Cuisine”. Original recipe can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bDy3ijT3JWg

 

1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
3/4 cup adzuki beans, drained and rinsed well
2 tbsp maple syrup
6 tbsp melted coconut oil (or another oil of your choice)
1/2 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup +2 tbsp almond milk
1 tbsp ground flax seeds
3 tbsp water
1 tbsp high quality matcha
1 tbsp baking powder
2 1/2 cups almond flour
3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp chickpea flour

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 12 cup muffin tin with liners.
2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the adzuki beans and 2 tbsp maple syrup. Bring to a simmer and cook for 8-10 minutes, until beans are softened and there is no liquid left. Remove from heat.  
3. In a large bowl, combine the melted coconut oil and 1/2 cup of maple syrup. If your coconut oil begins to harden, heat the mixture in a double boiler or place your bowl over a pot with simmering water (make sure your bowl is heatproof!).
4. In a separate small bowl, combine your flax seeds and 3 tbsp water. Allow to stand for a few minutes until thickened and gelatinous. This is your flax egg!
5. Add the flax egg to the wet ingredients. Add remaining ingredients and mix with a spatula until just combined. 
6. Evenly distribute the batter into the prepared muffin tin. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Remove from muffin tins. 

Enjoy!

Written by Rebecca Moutoussidis

 

References: 

Kaur, B. & Ranawa, B. (2015). The impact of a low glycemic index (GI) breakfast and snack on daily blood glucose profiles and food intake in young Chinese adult males. Journal of Clinical and Translational Endocrinology, 2 Issue 3. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com.meir-ez.medlcp.tau.ac.il/science/article/pii/S2214623715000563np=y&npKey=a2cf03112f2075313e095c1c1a79f85b8ff5f733fa01b549ad91639940221c3e 

All Breakfast All the Time (n.d.) Glycemic Index. Retrieved from http://www.mrbreakfast.com/glossary_term.asp?glossaryID=158

Sears, A. (n.d.) Glycemic Index. Retrieved from http://alsearsmd.com/glycemic-index/

Satherley, J (2014). Could you swap your morning latte for green tea? Matcha has a caffeine kick but the antioxidants of a superfood. One coffee addict travels to Japan to attempt the challenge.  Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2713411/Would-swap-coffee-Matcha-green-tea.html

 

Organic Facts. (n.d.) Health Benefits of Adzuki Beans. Retrieved from 

    https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/other/adzuki-beans.html

New Year, New Way to Beat the Winter Flu!

2017 has officially begun! And as with the start with every new year, most of us have probably kicked off January with new healthy eating plans and exercise regimes. The months of January and February are full of lifestyle changes, but unfortunately, they’re also synonymous with the cold and flu season. As many of us know, the winter months often bring with them the influenza virus, causing stuffy noses, sore throats, muscle soreness, fatigue, and plenty of other unpleasant symptoms. You can help give your immune system a boost by eating certain foods. Here are 3 common (and cheap!) foods to incorporate into your diet this winter season that’ll fight off those pesky flu symptoms. 

 

Red Bell Peppers

Red peppers contain an astonishing amount of Vitamin C. One cup of chopped peppers contains about 117 mg of Vitamin C, nearly double the amount found in a typical orange. Vitamin C, according to the Linus Pauling Institute of Oregon State University, stimulates the production and function of white blood cells, particularly phagocytes. These white blood cells are critical to immune system function because they are the biggest line of defence if a pathogen enters your body, engulfing and destroying whatever your immune system sees as a foreign threat. Vitamin C helps to produce these very important white blood cells and allows them to function at a higher level, some studies have shown.  Bell peppers are easily found in most grocery stores and are best eaten raw or cooked very gently for a short period of time so that the nutrients are not depleted. 

 

Garlic

Garlic has been used for its healing properties for thousands of years.  This strong-smelling plant has been shown to fight off drug resistant bacteria, including MRSA, a “super bug” that is resistant to several kinds of antibiotics. Studies have shown that this is due to the high concentration of sulphur-containing compounds such as allicin that are present in the plant (it is these compounds which give garlic that distinctive smell!). When the garlic clove is crushed or chopped, it stimulates the enzymatic process that converts alliin, a phytonutrient found in the plant, to allicin, so be sure to wait a few minutes after preparing your garlic cloves before cooking with and eating them.  Garlic is very inexpensive and can be found in nearly any grocery store at any time of year. Be sure to use fresh garlic when cooking, as the powdered stuff doesn’t contain its healing properties. Cooking for long periods of time tends to destroy the allicin, so to ensure you’re getting all of the wonderful antimicrobial, antiviral, and antifungal properties, eat your garlic raw or very minimally cooked. 

 

Ginger

Ginger root is another ancient medicinal ingredient found in many cuisines across the world. It is well known for relieving gastrointestinal pain due to its high concentration of the compound gingerol. This compound is also what gives ginger its incredible anti-inflammatory properties. This potent root has been shown to boost immunity due to its ability to make you sweat from its heat, and while that may not sound pleasant or particularly helpful, there is a compound found in sweat called dermiciden that helps to fight germs. Ginger is found in most grocery stores, and as with garlic, always try to buy fresh rather than powdered or dried, since the fresh ingredients have more potent active ingredients. Ginger can be found in the fresh produce aisle in most grocery stores and is often relatively inexpensive. Be sure to pick a root that is firm! 

 

Written by Rebecca Moutoussidis

References
Higdon, J. PhD. (2013). Vitamin C. Retrieved January 16, 2017 from  http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/vitamins/vitamin-C

Mercola. (2013). Beat Back Cold and Flus with… Garlic! Retrieved January 16, 2017 from http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/09/23/garlic-health-benefits.aspx

World’s Healthiest Foods (n.d.). Bell Peppers. Retrieved January 16, 2017 from http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?dbid=50&tname=foodspice

World’s Healthiest Foods (n.d.). Garlic. Retrieved January 16, 2017 from  http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=60

World’s Healthiest Foods (n.d.) Ginger. Retrieved January 16, 2017 from  http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=7