The coronavirus pandemic is dominating headlines and our daily lives. But let’s not forget that common illness such as the common colds and flu are still prevalent. Precarious times like these means placing utmost importance on your health.
A healthy body is one that is capable of warding off common illnesses and infections as much as possible. Certain foods and herbs that contain anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties can help with that. Coupled with plenty of sleep, moderate exercise, a wholesome diet full of fresh vegetables and fruit, as well as managing stress levels – there are all-natural options that can give your body’s defences the support it needs.
Here are some foods you can easily incorporate into your diet, whether you are healing from a nasty cold, or just looking at ways to boost your body’s vitality.
That’s not to say that these foods are a cure-all or are scientifically proven to prevent colds and the flu. Rather, they are considered supportive foods with a wide range of health benefits. So if you’re feeling particularly ill, please see a doctor or get suitable medication.
Ginger has been used as a medicinal root for centuries. It is known to relieve many ailments: from getting rid of gas to relieving nausea and stomach discomforts. Chances are, your grandmother may have made you a ginger drink to soothe your sore throat.
Its active compound gingerol is what gives ginger its medicinal properties. Ginger is anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial, and a little goes a long way. It is cheap, widely available, and for the adventurous, easy to grow in one’s balcony or backyard.
Most importantly, the versatile ingredient suits a multitude of dishes and cuisines. It is also ridiculously easy to prepare and consume in the form of ginger tea.
If you’re feeling a sore throat creeping up, make yourself a pot of ginger tea by boiling some sliced ginger (from a piece of ginger as large as your thumb) in about 500 ml of water. Squeeze some lemon juice into the tea before drinking. For coughs, add in a handful of leaves of Indian borage to boil with the ginger. Add a tablespoon of honey to calm a ticklish throat.
Vitamin C is the go-to choice when it comes to kicking the flu, and citrus fruit such as oranges, limes, lemons and grapefruit are packed with it. One medium orange provides all of your daily vitamin C needs. It is important to consume vitamin C often as it is water-soluble and doesn’t remain in your body for long.
However, researchers maintain that vitamin C doesn’t prevent the flu. Instead, it helps to reduce symptoms, making sure you are back on your feet fast. The vitamin is a powerful antioxidant that helps your body heal from the effects of a cold.
Freshly squeezed orange juice is a refreshing way to start your mornings. It is free of preservatives and added sugar, unlike inferior juice drinks available at the store. Add ground turmeric or grated ginger for a flavourful twist and extra health benefits.
Like ginger, garlic has also been used as a medicinal food for many years. Garlic releases sulphur-based compounds such as allicin. Sulphur is needed for your body to make glutathione, which is an anti-oxidant that staves off cell damage. But garlic only works in such a way if it is properly prepared.
That’s because the enzyme alliinase, which is responsible for creating allicin when garlic is crushed, is easily deactivated by heat. Eating it raw is probably the best way to reap its benefits, but its pungent smell and taste make this task impossible.
The alternative is to roast the garlic and eat the entire bulb. Roasting garlic brings out its natural sweetness and softens its insides. So instead of cooking it on the stove, use the roast garlic as a spread on sandwiches and as toppings on salads to retain most of its health properties.
While everyone is fixated on what natural remedies can boost one’s health, they forget the most important ingredient of all – water, and plenty of it.
Adequate hydration has a huge impact on one’s immunity. It flushes toxins, oxygenates your blood, keeps your mouth and eyes moist and clean, and gives your body the tools to regenerate cells. In tropical Singapore, it means drinking at least 10 glasses of water a day for sufficient hydration.
Believe it or not, many people don’t make it a habit to drink lots of water. They choose tastier options like sodas and flavoured drinks instead. These beverages are loaded with sugars and caffeine, which drains your body of water instead of hydrating it.
But if you hate the tastelessness of water, try flavouring it with slices of lemon, cucumber, mint and rosemary. If you absolutely can’t do without fizzy sodas or flavoured drinks, try dropping fruit-flavoured hydration tablets in your glass of water or opt for coconut water instead. Both choices don’t just hydrate you – they contain vitamins, such as Vitamin C, as well as minerals that are important for healthy bodily function.