suggested a while ago we share our immune-boosting tips. Here's mine!
Pine needle tea was an Indigenous drink shared with some of the French who came to the new world. It's best made from white pine needles (google it, but basically, long needles that are in bunches of five). Extremely high in vitamin C. It kept them from getting scurvy when they had no access to fruit and vegetables in Canadian winters. You boil the needles and let them sit, preferably overnight. Makes a lovely reddish-tinted tea that can be drank hot or cold. As soon as I feel the beginnings of a cold, I drink several cups a day, and it has often saved me from getting really sick. Symptoms disappear, and I recover. And if I do get sick, it does alleviate symptoms. Just in case anyone out there is looking for a natural immune boost and has access to white pine!
This sounds very nice!
OK, I better offer some tips too.
Fundamentally, good nutrition, regular exercise and enough sleep are completely essential. Nothing replaces this - other things are just the cream on top.
But I have an illustration on a related topic, of just how essential those are:
When I broke three bones in my foot 18 months ago, I was seriously worried. I'm in my late 40s, one of the fractures was displaced, bones in the hands and feet are notoriously hard to heal, and the average recovery time for this injury was posted at 12 - 16 weeks, if you're under 40 and in good health. I was in good health, but not under 40, and since serious walking and hiking is one of my major hobbies, the idea of ending up with any sorts of complications that would affect my walking was a real concern to me. So I read up on specialist nutrition for bone healing and found that the majority of Australians are now running borderline Vitamin D deficiencies because of slip/slop/slap (avoiding sun exposure) becoming widely adopted. This is an issue for immunity, and also for bone healing. Also, it's important if you're trying to mend bones quickly, that you have the necessary amino acids available in your bloodstream - miss one, and the whole process is interrupted until the missing link arrives. So I made sure I had small amounts of complete protein at every meal (eggs, dairy, meat, fish, the right combinations of plant proteins), and that my snacks included complete proteins as well; and I took Vitamin D supplements, as well as betacarotene, Vitamin C, and Vitamin E, on top of having a disgustingly healthy diet with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts and berries, and wholemeal everything, and avoiding excessive sugar / added sugar etc.
I stayed hydrated (lots of green tea) and got extra sleep and rest - and I worked very hard to maintain my fitness in my one-legged state. I bought an iWALK 2.0 (see https://iwalk-free.com/product-introduction/
) on recommendation of an online friend so that I could walk around on that hands-free, so that I'd not have to rehabilitate my affected leg from the knee up, just from the knee down, once I was allowed to bear weight again. If you're on crutches, you're not using the major muscle groups in your body, so it's hard to stay fit, and you're making yourself susceptible to secondary injuries to your shoulders and hands.
Anyway, every time I went to the fracture clinic for another review (two-week intervals), my orthopaedic consultant was super happy with how I was healing up. At 5 weeks post-fracture I was starting partial weight-bearing indoors because my body felt ready, and at my 6-week appointment I was officially cleared for full weight-bearing and told I could wear hiking boots instead of that astronaut boot you're in for early recovery - and the specialist brought in some juniors and spoke glowingly of my recovery, which was way ahead of expectations - "She just does all the right things! I wish all patients were like this!" The consultant physiotherapist said, "Great! You won't need me - but here's some exercises you can do that you may not have thought of!"
That night I went home, and my husband and I did a 5km walk at rapid pace, in which I used my crutches in the manner of ski poles, like Nordic walking - so that I could support my injured foot in the breakover phase, and get properly out of breath at the same time. This became daily routine, and by 8 weeks breakover didn't hurt anymore and I no longer used the crutches (and I also got back on my horse that week). Then we started hill training, and by 10 weeks we were back in the mountains. Compare that to the 12-16 week projected recovery time...
I'm using that as an example to illustrate that there's a lot we can do to help our bodies cope with various challenges, and that this makes a real difference. I'm going to be adopting a similar nutrition protocol as for bone healing, for boosting my immunity and general health, during this virus season. Last year I didn't do that, because I got careless, and ended up with a bad flu, and then one thing after the other. That's not fun, and that's not how I'm going to do it this year.
So: Nothing replaces good nutrition, regular exercise and sufficient rest and sleep.
Other than that:
Because I worked in high schools for 15 years, and initially picked up lots of colds and flus (infectious disease central, plus 60-hour high-stress weeks), a doctor at the time gave me some advice that really worked for me. One, don't touch your face, don't scratch any itches, etc - and wash your hands a lot. Two, try using a cold-sore prevention formula because it has benefits for fighting a range of viruses other than the herpes simplex virus it officially addresses. It's Vitamin C, zinc and lysine. Blackmores do one called Lyp-Sine; chemists do generic copies. I was to take one a day; but go to full dose at the slightest niggle in my throat etc. This reduced the incidence of getting cold or flu to less than one a year for me, and nothing very severe. So, we've just bought a month's supply and started taking that again.
My favourite sore-throat lozenges are sugarfree herbal ones containing echinacea, nigella, eucalyptus oil, fennel, peppermint and thyme, plus Vitamin C and zinc - kept them in the glovebox of the car when teaching and if my throat felt rough at the end of the day, I just had one on the way home. I still keep them to use at the first sign of a sore throat. Bioglan makes them in Australia but I've seen a number of different manufacturers of the same formula.
And, if you're getting ill, go to bed with a cup of tea (or a toddy - want to post your favourite toddy recipes?) and a book - don't wait for it to get bad first. That way, you can fight it better and recover faster.
Chicken soup, when you're not feeling great. If you're not up to making a "proper" one with all the chicken and veg, here's a quick one we still find very helpful when ill: Boil half a cup to a cup of soup pasta (alphabets have a much better texture than risoni!) in a litre of chicken stock, and just before the pasta is al dente, add four to five slices of cheddar cheese (not plastic-wrapped cheese slices - real cheddar cheese please!), and a tablespoon of dried parsley or equivalent fresh. We call that our "resurrection soup"...
Fresh ginger root and garlic are both wonderful when I'm feeling unwell. I make a ginger-nut-citrus-wholemeal flour-honey cake I eat instead of muesli bars, which are not particularly healthy food (although you can make your own with a reasonable nutritional profile). I make that with freshly grated ginger, and we also throw a lot of ginger (and garlic) in our stir-fries. I put it in my Chai tea (which I make with star anise, cloves, cardamon pods and thin slices of root ginger added to green tea) and Brett puts it in his black tea. Oh, and he was trawling through a soup book and found the most delicious carrot-ginger soup which I'm happy to post the recipe for, it's so nice, and such a pick-me-up!
A friend 20 years ago gave me her recipe for Thai beef salad which to me is like resurrection food - the dressing is chock full of lemon and lime juice, olive oil, garlic, fresh leaf coriander, mint and fish sauce, and has lemongrass and chilli in it too. (I wonder if vegetarians could apply that dressing to another salad with an acceptable vegetarian source of complete protein that would complement it in flavour.) Anyway, apart from obviously beef strips, the original has red onion, lots of snowpeas, whatever other salad vegetables you like (cucumber goes well here), and freshly ground pepper in the mix.
Another favourite pick-me-up food is Moroccan Harira, which I make both vegetarian and lamb versions of. Again, loads of vegetables and herbs, plus lentils and chickpeas - it's traditional Ramadan food, to see people through daytime fasting, so it's got to be very nutritious to do that.
Food is definitely medicinal if done well.
What are all y'all
's favourite pick-me-up recipes?