Outsmart flu season this year by treating your winter cold with real food. This is not only cheaper but also allows you to consume additional nutrients to power your immune system and keep you healthy all year long. Bee pollen, honey and garlic are all known for their impressive health benefits and cold-prevention properties.
1. Bee Pollen
Bee pollen is made up of tiny yellow grains. They are easy to add to morning oatmeal and can also be sprinkled on cereal, yogurt, mashed potatoes, almond butter or honey toast. Bee pollen is known for its energy boosting and stress fighting properties. It also lowers blood pressure and helps with skin conditions.
Bee pollen contains all essential amino acids—it is a complete protein. It also contains essential vitamins and the trace minerals our body needs for good health, as well as the enzymes and co-enzymes necessary for its digestion. And it is only 90 calories per ounce.
In Chinese medicine, bee pollen is used to improve endurance, reduce cravings and prevent cold and flu due to its antibiotic properties. It has also been found to have cancer-fighting properties.
Natural, local honey is known for its anti-bacterial properties. Try to get your honey from a farmer's market or Whole Foods to ensure a good quality product. Honey that has been highly processed and treated will not exhibit the same properties.
Honey can be used to improve energy levels, as well as in cold, flu and sore throat treatments. It can be applied topically to treat conditions like athletes foot, insect bites, rashes, pressure sores, and chronic wounds. And best of all, it tastes great.
When you feel you are coming down with a cold or start sensing a sore throat, take one teaspoon of honey and let it slowly melt in your mouth and slip down your throat. Do not drink liquids immediately afterwards. Do this two to four times each day, for as many days as you need to. For prevention only, one teaspoon can be taken daily year-round.
For athletes, honey can be a healthy sugar source for energy, or for refueling after a long workout. If you get a topical injury or cut during your workout, you can also use it as a salve.
Garlic is a phytonutrient. Phytonutrients are similar to antioxidants because they offer protection from diseases like diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease and hypertension. There are several phytonutrients available in each serving of vegetables.
Garlic in particular is part of a phytonutrient sub-category known as allylic sulfides. It is anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-parasitic, immune boosting and cancer-fighting. It is truly a superfood.
For cold and flu prevention, chop up a clove of garlic and swallow the pieces without chewing. You may do this daily or several times a day, as needed. Not chewing prevents the garlic from making your breath smell, although it still burns the tongue a little on contact so swallow quickly. Garlic works immediately to kick start your immune system, both for cold prevention and a quick recovery.
Treat your winter cold naturally this winter and let food be your medicine.
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Vanessa Rodriguez is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, an ultra-endurance athlete, and an online editor for Active.com.