We've been having some weird weather here in the DMV. (Hello spring in February!) The ups-and-downs in temperature and pressure have been messing with a lot of people's immune systems. I've had quite a few patients come in in the last couple of weeks with colds, etc. While prevention is the best medicine (healthy diet, adequate sleep, getting adjusted, exercising regularly), sometimes we get sick.
So what can you do to shorten the length and severity of your illness? You probably already know to get adequate rest and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate, but nutritionally there are things you can do to support healing and fight bacteria and viruses. Here are what research says some of the best foods to help you get better faster.
Many contain calories, vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, calcium, folate, and phosphorous that will help you stay hydrated and keep your electrolytes in check. If you drink them while hot, broths also act as a natural decongestant because of the steam. Drinking broth is a good way to stay hydrated, which is especially helpful if your stomach is unsettled and you are unable to keep down solid foods. If you’re salt-sensitive and buy broth from the store, be sure to buy a low-sodium variety as most broths are very high in salt. If you’re making broth from scratch, it will have even more benefits due to increased nutrient content.
Garlic has antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal properties. Enjoy it in broth and get a two-for-one benefit.
Honey has great antibacterial and antimicrobial effects. Some studies have shown that honey can stimulate the immune system. Mix about half a teaspoon of honey with a warm glass of milk, milk alternative, water or a cup of tea for a hydrating, cough-soothing, antibacterial drink. (just remember that honey should not be given to children under 1 year of age)
Ginger is great at relieving nausea and it also has antioxidant and antimicrobial properties. Cook with it or brew some ginger tea. Just make sure you're getting actual ginger and not just ginger flavoring.
Bananas are easy to chew and provide a decent amount of calories and nutrients. This is one of the reasons they are part of the BRAT diet which is recommended for stomach bugs and nausea (BRAT = bananas, rice, applesauce, toast). Bananas are also high in soluble fiber which helps relieve diarrhea.
While no food alone can cure sickness, eating the right foods, getting adjusted, and staying hydrated can support your body’s immune system and help you get better faster.