I make a mean chicken soup every season, in the crock pot, and just keep it going all season long to help keep us fed and healthy. It’s that time of year again, when the weather turns cold and we have to coop ourselves up with others inside more, and the risk of infection-related diseases increases. But there are ways to stay healthy this winter season, without resorting to over-the-counter medications, flu shots that might or might not work (and might or might not be bad for you, depending on which study you read), or resorting to expensive medical bills to visit your doctor or emergency room.
Chicken Soup: Not Just an Old Wives Tale
There’s a reason chicken soup has long been the staple for staving off illness and helping people recover from it: it’s good for you! Now, I’m not talking about canned variety with the red and white labelÃ¢Â?Â¦ you know the one. I’m talking about a healthy, homemade chicken soup. And it’s so easy to make too.
Using real, whole chicken (and if you want a quick fix, use a cook rotisserie chicken from the deli) you pack the soup with protein. The broth contains plenty of sodium for electrolytes and hydration (but not too much sodium). The vegetables pack vitamin C and antioxidants for health and added nutrition. If you throw in a few sliced peppers for a nice kick, you get nasal decongestion and sinus drainage too, plus it adds to the flavor of the soup. Add turmeric and garlic, both great for helping with inflammation and congestion, and you have an awesome tasting soup with very little effort.
Eat this several times per week to help prevent getting sick and fight congestion during the cold snaps. Don’t forget to hover over the steaming, wonderful-smelling bowl too, because the steam helps open nasal passages and the spices are aromatherapeutic. Always serve it when someone is sick and needing to get well quick.
Peppermint Green Tea: Menthol and Antioxidants
Peppermint has menthol in it, an ingredient long used in medication for helping with anything that has to do with congestion. Well, why not skip the toxic medication and go straight to the natural source? The peppermint leaves themselves can be steeped in water or with a hot green tea bag and you get an instant pick-me-up packed with good stuff for you. Sniff the tea while you drink it, and you’ll feel your chest relax, your nasal passages open and your congestion will easy away from you in a moment of tea relaxation. Use a little natural raw honey for sweetener if you must or try stevia, another plant-base all-natural sweetener. Avoid sugar, cream or milk in your tea, though, as these are known to aid or increase phlegm and worsen congestion.
Pineapple or Berry Juices: Better Than OJ
I’m sure you’ve been told to drink plenty of fluids when you’re sick, and it’s a good rule of thumb for anyone (unless fluid restricted for medical reasons, like I am with congestive heart failure). However, orange juice isn’t necessarily the best juice to drink when you’re sick.
Pineapple contains bromelian, which has been shown to reduce inflammation and has recently been found to be a possible help with congestion and sinus blockage. All-natural juices are best, so if you can make your own pineapple juice, go for it! If not, try to buy 100%, not-from-concentrate juices. A good pineapple orange juice blend can often fix you right up.
Then again, if you like a sweeter and less tangy treat, go for a berry blend juice. Berries are full of antioxidants and high doses of all-natural vitamin C, which can help boost your immune system during the cold indoor months. Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries are all yummy and make wonderful smoothies with a little yogurt or coconut water and ice. Yum! And healthy for you and will help fight congestion and prevent illness.
Spices and Herbs: Not Just for Seasoning
I have written extensively on the health benefits of many spices and herbs, such as garlic, turmeric, paprika and red peppers-so many wonderful options to season your food, fight pain, inflammation and more. All during the winter seasons, find foods you can add these spices to. Red peppers, hot spices and seasonings, Thai peppers, chile peppers and more all help fight congestion and inflammation, help fight body aches and pains and a ton of other health benefits. Add them to your winter diet recipes liberally and see if you don’t stay healthier and feel better all season long.