Refreshing and fortifying? Say it ain’t so! But I tell you, it is!
Fortunately, we are pretty resilient and healthy in this household, but that doesn’t mean I don’t stock up on immune boosters when I catch wind of some virus going around. A little pre-emptive strike never hurt anyone! While we all are familiar with vitamin C and vitamin D and their benefits to our health, I love to utilize some of the lesser known beneficials. I have a couple of reasons for this.
First, I have gotten away from relying on vitamins for health. That is not to say that I don’t support their use, I do- just when it’s called for. But if I can get nutrition from real food first, then you bet I will. There are a number of inherent problems with vitamins in general. Vitamins are often synthetic, produced in a lab to mimic their natural behavior. It may seem the same as the natural form, but it behaves a little differently once it’s in our system. Often, it’s less bioavailable to our bodies than the natural version. What is bioavailability? It describes how readily useable a nutrient is to our body. What this often means is that the synthetic vitamins have to be packed with more nutrition in the first place because our body can only access so much from it. In other words, they look higher in quantity of certain vitamins, but that’s because our body has to be supplied wth more in the first come to overcome the amount of nutrient it has no access to and will end up excreting, unused.
It’s also a popular practice to isolate properties and constituents from certain nutrients. Research often focuses on what makes a nutrient beneficial. When they find one key component, this component gets isolated and sold in this form. The intent is all well and good, to get straight to the most effective, impactful part of the nutrient. But, what we often overlook in our search for the perfect magic bullet is that these foods are healthful in their entirety, not in their isolated constituents. What I mean is that while this one constituent may certainly be beneficial for what the researchers found, what about the multitude of other constituents within this same food that are also beneficial? Or more so, the fact these individual constituents all become ever more beneficial because they work synergistically together! Our bodies do not work one individual part at a time, so why would a food? It’s a living entity, too.
Manmade Vitamin C is usually combined with other unwanted goodies, like binders, fillers, and sugar! The first two are just holding the pill together, and the last is added because otherwise it’s pretty unpalatable. My kids have always begged for those vitamin C gummies and chewables. Check the ingredients list. Hey, look! Sugar, right up there at the top of the list. Which is ironic in a vitamin C immune boosting supplement, considering sugar is notorious for being an immune breaker. So I have come to see these vitamins as a wash. The bad ingredients wipe out the good.
Real food is often cheaper than supplements too. We pay so much to be able to get our nutrients in a pill, a once and done thing. Then we go eat food. But since we have to eat food anyway, why not accomplish two goals in one fell swoop? Get your vitamins from your food sources, and save your money. Chances are, when you are eating clean, good quality foods, they will be sufficiently dosed in the vitamins you need to keep your system running well. Processed, conventionally raised food may be cheaper at the outset, but you will just have to compensate later with more vitamins, supplements, and medical expenses. It’s just filler. Why not swap out your empty filler for health fortifying foods that taste delicious and save you in health and money down the road? Plus, remember from above, the real food is jam packed with all the necessary components to give you the most effective boost!
So, what are my go-to boosters? Well, any internet search for immune boosters will bring up myriad foods and herbs. And that is a beautiful thing. We have so much to choose from! It’s empowering to see how many foods are able to supply our bodies with all the health we need. For me, the fun lies in finding the right mix of ingredients to create something exciting and enjoyable.
During the winter we love hot, soothing teas. They are so comforting. But now as we enter the warm months, we needed something cooling, something refreshing. So I took our wintertime favorite and put a little spin on it.
Ginger lemon tea is a staple in our house. But to this I added turmeric for increased anti-inflammatory effects. It also strengthens the effects of ginger, and vice versa. And this was all well and good, but next came my new recent love. Hibiscus flowers! I love these little things. I am talking about the dried petals from the hibiscus plant, and they are an excellent source of natural vitamin C. As such, they provide a lovely little citrus flavor. I usually sweeten this mixture with a good quality local honey, but it can be substituted with stevia if you prefer.
I tend to make this tea pretty concentrated. We store this concoction in the fridge and use just a little at a time. You can sip it off a spoon for a syrup-like dose, or do like we do- pour yourself a glass of Gerolsteiner mineral water, and add this mix for an indulgent flavor!
Immune Boosting Summertime Soda
- 1/2″ piece fresh ginger root, peeled and grated
- 1/2″ piece fresh turmeric root, peeled and grated
- juice from 2 organic lemons
- 1-2T. dried hibiscus flowers
- sweetener of choice- honey or stevia, to taste
In a medium pot bring water almost to a boil, but not quite. Add the fresh grated ginger and turmeric and let simmer for 3-5 minutes.
* the longer steep time will increase the strength of flavor, and can add bitterness. Especially with grated roots, taste after a few minutes to test for flavor.
Add the fresh squeezed lemon juice and remove the pot from the heat. Add the hibiscus flowers now too. Allow it to cool slightly, about 5-10 minutes.
While still warm, add the honey to taste. If using stevia, you can add powered form while still warm and dissolve thoroughly. Add liquid stevia a few drops at a time and test for sweetness.
*I make mine extra strong with the herbs. I store it as a concentrate and water it down when I drink it, so I plan for that. Though honey needs to be added while still warm, I often add the liquid stevia at the time of use.