“LET THY FOOD BE THY MEDICINE”
By: Jami Oles, HHP, CNS
Specializing in personalized holistic health services for your family’s health and wellness needs.
During my years of practice as a Holistic Health Practitioner specializing in Children and Family Wellness, the fall and winter are always the busiest times for me. At this time of year, I get all kinds of questions about how to keep the immune system strong. Vitamins/Supplements and Natural remedies are absolutely wonderful. However, my first answer is always diet. Your diet is your #1 defense against illnesses. I know you have heard it before, so what does it really mean to let your food be your medicine?
The immune system is a highly intelligent system and as long as we take care of it, it will take care of us. We all have these amazing natural defensive and offensive strategies in place to keep the body in balance and free from illness. However, there are times when our immune systems need extra support. We can do that with some key supplements, but let’s take a closer look at how our food can truly be our medicine.
Thankfully, we have a lot of dedicated chefs and recipe builders out there like Marian Mitchell that make healthy eating not so scary, in fact, she gives us proof with her delicious recipes that eating healthy can be a truly enjoyable experience. This time of year, serve plenty of warm, nourishing seasonal foods. When you eat in season, you are automatically nourishing your body in a way that is primal and naturally supportive of our needs within the cooler months.
Let’s take a closer look at one of Marian’s delicious recipes so I can help you understand how our food can be a powerful medicine. Below is a list of the ingredients in her Chicken Soup along with their medicinal benefits. After reading this breakdown of ingredients, I am confident you will have a better understanding of how truly therapeutic our food can be. It also helps us understand how homemade chicken soup has actual science backing up its effectiveness with seasonal illnesses like the cold and flu. Pretty fascinating stuff if you ask me!
Why Marian’s Chicken Soup Recipe Is A Healing Food
Bone Broth –
There is a reason why native peoples have been consuming bone broths for thousands of years and why your grandmother’s chicken soup always seemed to cure what ailed you. The health benefits of simply simmering the marrow and joint bones of beef, chicken, lamb and even fish for 24 to 48 hours are tremendous. In fact, bone broth contains 19 essential amino acids and as well as other healing substances in an easy-to-absorb way to literally lubricate, nourish, restore and fortify every system in the body. (Learn how to make your own homemade bone broth here.)
In onion, the two most significant types of phytochemicals are flavonoids and organosulfur compounds. The latter, which give onions their distinctive smell and taste, are believed to possess anti-allergic, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties. Onion’s primary flavonoids, quercetin, and kaempferol, have strong antioxidative properties and are believed to help prevent cancer and heart disease. Quercetin, in particular, gets credit for its strong support of immune function.
Garlic is one of the edible plants which has generated a lot of interest throughout human history as a medicinal panacea. A wide range of microorganisms including bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and viruses have been shown to be sensitive to crushed garlic preparations. Moreover, garlic has been reported to reduce blood lipids and to have anticancer effects. The science is still pouring out in regards to garlic. One thing we know, without a doubt, is that is it a powerful antimicrobial. It has been proven to be successful against viruses, fungi, parasites and in regards to bacteria, when taken correctly, works better than most broad-spectrum antibiotics.
Sweet Potatoes –
Being very rich in beta-carotene, which is a major antioxidant, along with vitamin C and B complex vitamins, iron, and phosphorus, sweet potatoes are excellent immune system boosters that can defend your body from a wide variety of illnesses and ailments.
Similar to sweet potatoes, carrots contain loads of beta-carotene, which is a powerful phytonutrient that boosts the immune system’s production of infection-fighting natural killer cells and T cells. These cells are healthy and attack and kill off disease-ridden microbes.
Carrots also contain falcarinol, a super compound that has shown great promise as an anti-cancer agent.
Celery contains apigenin, a molecule that is currently being studied for its anti-cancer properties. A study published in Molecular Nutrition and Food Research investigated whether this chemical might help modify or reduce damage caused by inflammation. The authors concluded that apigenin and apigenin-rich diets reduced the expression of certain inflammatory proteins in mice. In this way, they can reduce inflammation and restore immune balance.
Mushroom Beta Glucan is a carbohydrate polymer derived from the cell wall of mushrooms. Research has demonstrated that this unique polymer effectively supports the body’s natural defense mechanism by activating the front line immune cells to support a healthy and robust immune response without over-stimulating it which is very important for those living with an autoimmune illness. There are a wide variety of mushrooms available for cooking. The good news is, they all have the beneficial beta glucans to some extent. Some more than others, however, all mushrooms have impressive proven immune supporting properties.
Spinach – Need I say more? –
Depending on your age, you may or may not have been introduced to the power of spinach through a cartoon character named Popeye. Every time he ate his spinach, he gained instant powerful strength. This is a really a great illustration of what spinach is capable of in regards to our all over health. Spinach is one of those power greens that not only packs a punch but a knock out punch!
Greens such spinach, kale and Swiss chard are immune-boosting foods because of their high antioxidant content. One of those antioxidants is Vitamin C, which is not only a powerful antioxidant, it helps fight off infection and regenerate other antioxidants in the body, including vitamin E. It also contains folate, another nutrient crucial to immune function. Spinach is considered to be one of the healthiest foods on earth with good reason. Researchers identifying more than a dozen different types of flavonoid antioxidants alone that are present in spinach, aside from all of its other nutrients. Spinach has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant abilities and is easily one of the most nutrient-dense foods in existence.
Bay Leaf – Nutrient Packed: Bay leaves offer us a healthy dose of vitamins A, C, magnesium, calcium, manganese, potassium, and iron.
Basil – Contains disease-fighting antioxidants. Contains proven antimicrobial properties that fight viruses, fungal and bacterial infections.
Cumin – Anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antibacterial properties, immune supportive and helps aid in digestion.
Cayenne – Powerful anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Also well-known to aid in respiratory and cardiovascular health.
With this breakdown of ingredients, you can clearly see how nutrition is key for health. You can also see how it can be used in a therapeutic way to help the body heal. As a Holistic Health Practitioner and as a Nurse, I have witnessed time and time again how amazing the human body is. When we begin to give our bodies the nutrients it needs to heal, it will heal. The human body is a healing machine. Detoxing and keeping you alive 24/7. The best thing you can do for you and your family this winter is to eat real food and decrease your stress. When those two things become consistent, health thrives.
In Part two we will go over some key supplements to have on hand for your family.
About The Author
Jami Oles is a mother of 3, a Holistic Health Practitioner and Child Nutrition Specialist with a degree in Alternative Medicine with a specialty certification in Medical Herbalism. Jami has over 10 years of experience in the Medical field as an EMT and a Medical/Surgical Nurse. With this background, Jami is able to provide her audience and clients with a truly integrative approach to health. Jami holds the following professional memberships: American Holistic Nurses Association, American Herbalist Guild, American Holistic Health Association and the Nutritional Therapy Association.
“My passion is educating, empowering and supporting people wherever they are at in their journey to health & wellness. It just so happens to also be my job and for that I feel blessed!” – Jami Oles, HHP, CNS
Winter Wellness: 3 - Part Series Part 1 Bone Broth Chicken and Vegetable Soup
- 4 cups chicken bone broth
- 2 cups filtered water
- 1 yellow onion
- 6 cloves of garlic or more, to taste
- 1 small sweet potato
- 2 carrots
- 2 stalks celery
- 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
- 4 cups spinach
- 1 pre-cooked chicken breast
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp dried italian herbs
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp cayenne powder optional
- Crush the garlic, peel off the skin and set aside.
- Chop the onion and slice the celery.
- Peel and chop the carrots and sweet potato.
- Chop the chicken into bite size pieces.
- Now mince the garlic. (Waiting to chop it increases the garlic’s healing capacity.)
- Take a large pot, pour in the broth and water. Then add in the chicken, spices and all the vegetables except for the spinach.
- Bring to a boil, then turn down to medium-low heat and let simmer for 20-30 minutes.
- During the last 2-3 minutes, add the spinach to your soup and stir. Serve once the spinach is soft and wilted.