Natural remedies for winter

Are you becoming immune to antibiotics? Do the chemicals listed on your medicine bottle scare you? Maybe it’s time to try some more holistic boosters and food-based vitamins. We’ve come up with a few natural remedies that you can find in your pantry this winter to treat your colds, influenza, sinusitis and other illnesses.

Carrots and peppers
Boost your immune system with carrots and peppers. Yellow and orange vegetables contain beta-carotene, which is a good source of Vitamin A. This vitamin is particularly good for preparing your immune system to fight against germs and infection. Try this healthy carrot and coriander soup or this tasty red pepper pesto.

The active ingredient in the garlic bulb is allicin, which fights viruses and bacteria to help prevent colds and flu. Luckily garlic is a very simple and aromatic addition to everyday recipes – roasted, crushed, chopped or sliced.

Something magical in the fiery ginger root kills the agents that cause colds. Brew a fresh ginger tea and flavour it with honey and lemon to relieve a sore throat. Also try this beetroot soup with ginger, coriander and red cabbage or a good old butter chicken bunny chow.

The soothing benefits of honey come from its antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. These agents suppress the need to cough and also relieve the irritations in your throat that may occur when you have a cold or flu. Add honey to warm water or warm milk for a sweet alternative to regular cough medicines. Honey has also been shown to cure allergies: honey eaten every day acts as a vaccine and strengthens your immune system against the pollen spores that aggravate allergy sufferers. (This excuse is good enough for us!) The sweet stickiness of honey could easily be incorporated into breakfast every day, in something like this homemade muesli, or for dinner in this more wintery honey-roast parsnip and pear soup.

This fine citrus fruit is high in vitamin C and works as a natural antioxidant. These two properties help in strengthening the immune system, therefore helping the body fight bacteria. Lemons can help regulate high or low blood pressure and they’re high in potassium, which is an important mineral that helps the kidneys function. (And the kidneys are essential for our bodies to flush away waste.) Lemon is also used as a cleaning agent in our bodies, helping to clear away congestion and sinus inflammation. Add a good squeeze to your tea or a lemon slice to boiling water. If you have some lemons left over, try these 20 things to do with lemons.

The simple snack can boost energy when you are feeling under the weather. Nuts contain large amounts of protein, which can keep you going for long periods of time. Almonds are a great source of vitamin E, an antioxidant that helps fight sickness and disease. Keep a bag of almonds, peanuts or cashews handy for when you’re feeling low on energy or if you foresee a long and busy day ahead. Also try making your own granola with almonds, sunflower seeds, oats and honey.

The menthol in this herb is good for clearing congested respiratory tracts. It calms a sore throat and helps with dry coughs as well. Brew a peppermint tea or mix in with iced water and fresh lemon for a refreshing drink.

The hot flavours of spices will cause you to sweat, aiding the process of breaking a fever. Spices like cayenne pepper and black pepper also work against chest and sinus congestion. The best way to use spices effectively is to add half a teaspoon of your favourite ground variety to half a glass of warm water and gargle with it. If the taste of this is too aggressive for you, curries and stews are just as good. Read our A-Z of spices and head to one of these spice stores to stock your pantry.

Sweet potatoes
Another orange-coloured food that also contains beta-carotene is the sweet potato, which has been proven to help fight respiratory infections. The purple-fleshed, white-fleshed and dry-textured sweet potatoes are just as high in beta-carotene, too. Sweet potatoes are wonderful when roasted with butternut and other vegetables, and add a sweet creamy texture to soups. Try this recipe for sweet potato gnocchi served with hearty lamb, grilled salmon with sweet potato mash or one of these two fragrant soups: Thai sweet potato soup with lemon grass and coconut milk or spiced sweet potato soup with red pepper and lime salsa.

Holistic remedies say that thyme helps to promote the healing of bronchitis and other illnesses that cause coughing. Make thyme tea by brewing two spoons of fresh thyme in boiling water for ten minutes. This can be flavoured with peppermint or liquorish. Read more about cooking with herbs, including thyme, here.

By Kelly Pluke


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