Food as Medicine – 5 Top Tips
Many of us have been forced to slow down a bit over the past few months. We are suddenly working from home. Unable to go to the gym. Crafting with our kids more than ever before.
While there is so much uncertainty at this time, one thing has stayed constant: The articles, Instagram posts and Facebook Lives regarding ways to boost the immune system!
It seems as though everywhere we turn, we see “5 Tips to Boost the Immune System!”, “ Eat for Your Immunity!” and now is the time to “Focus on Self Care Today!”
Yes, all of these concepts are helpful and relevant. Yes, we need to hear this information.
Although, as your dietitian, I have a feeling that you already know that eating vegetables, avoiding sugar, meditation, exercise, and 7 or more hours of sleep each night is crucial when it comes to supporting immune health. However, the goal is to have those habits ingrained into your daily routine. We want your foundation of immunity to be built BEFORE danger and disease strikes.
So, once the foundation is built, how do we take nutrition to the next level? Here are my top tips for using food as medicine:
5 Tips to Use Food as Medicine
1. Eat Your Antifungals & Antibacterials
Did you know that certain foods have powerful antifungal and antimicrobial properties? Totally true. Nature’s best medicine comes disguised as oregano, garlic, onion, Manuka honey, turmeric, and ginger. Try to incorporate at least one of these foods daily. Soups, smoothies, and stir-frys tend to work best.
Pro Tip: Speaking of nature’s best medicine, many ask us, can I simply skip fruits and veggies and take a supplement instead? The answer is NO! A supplement is just that- a supplement to your normal diet. Plants naturally contain too many amazing compounds to be replaced by a supplement.
With that said, what supplement would we recommend to help with inflammation? Well, If you’re a female looking to fight inflammation and correct any imbalances down in your nether region, we highly recommend checking out the Perfect Condition Vitamin by Love Wellness.
This nutrient-based supplement has the perfect blend of anti-inflammatory agents such as turmeric and powerful, all-natural antimicrobials such as garlic, grapefruit seed, and coconut oil in order to keep you balanced from the inside out. Say goodbye to awkward smells and yeast infections- the safe and natural way!
If you’re a male looking to boost energy while addressing total body inflammation, check out Men’s Pure Pack by Pure Encapsulations. This extensive combo of nutrients and antioxidants promotes energy and stamina while supporting prostate and cardiovascular health.
2. Choose Color
It’s no secret, eating a rainbow each day can dramatically improve human health by reversing damage at the cellular level. Aim to consume 3 different colors at each meal. Example: Morning smoothie that contains spinach, strawberries, and blueberries. Bonus: dark leafy greens are incredible when it comes to detoxification.
3. Feed Yourself with Fermentation
Fermented foods are one of the best-kept secrets when it comes to boosting human health. To use fermented food as medicine, aim for 2 TBSP each day of fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, or 4-8 oz of Kombucha (Check out the recipe below!). Fermented Foods serve as premium fuel for the good bacteria in our gut, thus helping to strengthen our immune system.
4. Real Food for Real People
No matter how divided this country is regarding food beliefs -keto, paleo, vegan- there is one thing all experts agree on: eating real food! Our body was designed to digest and metabolize food that does not contain a bar code. The more chemicals and additives we ingest, the more bogged down our immune system becomes. It’s as simple as that!
5. Focus on Correcting & Preventing Nutrient Deficiencies
Consider speaking to your doctor or dietitian about testing for micronutrient deficiencies. Believe it or not, many Americans are suffering from chronic health issues that could have been completely prevented if vitamin and mineral stores were up to par. In fact, numerous studies have shown that more than 90% of Americans are deficient in one or more nutrients at the minimum dose to prevent deficiency diseases!
Remember my friends, Rome was not built in a day and the same can be said for your immune system. Focus on incorporating one new tip on using food as medicine each week and soon enough, these habits will become second nature and you will be harnessing the true power of food!
And now a quick recipe to help you use fermented food as medicine in your kitchen each week….
Homemade Food as Medicine Kombucha!
(Usual disclaimer: FWDfuel Sports Nutrition is a participant in the Emerson Wellevate Associates program as well as the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.)
Now that you know fermented foods can boost the immune system like no other and you are practicing social distancing at home, do you know what that means?
This is the PERFECT time to learn how to make your own kombucha at home!! Not only will this boost your immune system, but it will boost your wallet as well.
For those who are new to this lovely, sparkling beverage, kombucha is tea that is combined with yeast and a small amount of sugar in order to promote fermentation.
Drinking 4-8 oz daily can be helpful for increasing the “good” bacteria in our gut, thereby enhancing our immune system.
Before we begin, be sure to have the right equipment on hand:
Pot or tea kettle
Mason Jar (/which comes with cloth and rubber band)
Otis Classic Swing Top Glass Bottles with tightly closing lids
Food as Medicine: Homemade Kombucha
- 1 gallon of purified water
- 6-8 teabags of your favorite tea
- 1 cup of sugar
- SCOBY This stands for Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast. You can make your own or choose a little assistance with a starter kit.
- 2 cups of unflavored neutralized, store-bought kombucha
- Option to include 1-2 cups of your favorite chopped fruit for additional flavoring berries are great! or 2-5 TBSP of fresh herbs or spices
Create a tea base: Bring water to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar until it is dissolved. Drop in the tea and allow it to steep until the water has cooled. This may take a few hours (depends on pot size). If you’d like to speed up the cooling process, place the pot in an ice bath.
Add starter tea: Once cool, remove the tea bags or strain out the loose tea. Stir in the starter tea. (The starter tea prevents “bad” bacteria from making a home in the first few days of fermentation.)
Transfer to jars. Add SCOBY: Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon glass jar and (with clean hands!) carefully slide the scoby into the jar. Cover the mouth of the jar with a few layers and secure it with a rubber band. Even paper towels or coffee filters will work.
Ferment for 7-10 days. Be sure to keep the jar out of direct sunlight, at room temp and in an area that won’t be continually disturbed. Periodically check the Kombucha and scoby. It is not unusual for the scoby to float at the top, bottom, or sideways during this process. Don’t be freaked out if you see weird floaters and strings hanging from the scoby. These are normal signs of fermentation!
Time to Taste Test. After 7 days, start to taste your kombucha. Wait until you reach a balance of sweet and sour that you prefer. It is now time to remove the scoby, but make sure you have another batch of hot tea in the wings in order to hand off the scoby! Side note, it is ok to keep your scoby on a plate for a little bit until you are ready to transfer to the new batch.
Bottle Up!: Measure 2 cups from this batch to serve as your starter tea for the next batch. Pour the fermented kombucha (strain if desired) into bottles using the small funnel. Add any fruit or herbs you may want for additional flavor. Leave approximately a half inch of room at the top of each bottle.
Carbonate then Refrigerate: Store the bottled kombucha at room temperature out of direct sunlight. Allow 1 to 3 days for the kombucha to carbonate. Refrigerate to stop fermentation and carbonation. Be sure to consume your delicious homemade food as medicine kombucha within a month!
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Cheers to health and happiness!