By Megan Dettloff-Meyer
With the hustle and bustle of back to school life, it often seems inevitable that someone in the family gets rundown and sick. It doesn't have to be that way, healthy diet comes first and foremost when looking to boost the immune system and overall wellness. A fundamental principle in Chinese Medicine is that food is our first medicine, and it is also believe there is no single diet that is right for everyone. The best place to start when making dietary changes is eliminating “CRAP” food from the diet. This stands for Carbonated sugary drinks, Refined sugars, Artificial sweeteners, and Processed foods. Once you get a handle on that, work to include these food recommendations (or supplements) into your diet to keep you and your child healthy and vital this cold and flu season.
1- Eat Fermented Foods.
The more adventurous you are with this the better. There are so many options: yogurt, kefir, miso, tempeh, kim chi, sauerkraut, beet kavas, the list goes on and on. Fermented foods are created through lactofermentation in which naturally occurring bacteria eat the sugars and starches in the food and produce lactic acid, omega 3 fatty acids, B vitamins, and other great things. The time spent preparing these foods will be an investment in health and vitality. I highly recommend the book Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz.
This kim chi recipe got me started on the art of fermentation. I modify this recipe a bit and change out the vegetables based on what we have seasonally available. I replace the Korean chili with paprika, I do this for the kids, I certainly miss the spice!
2- Eat Organ Meats & Gelatin.
I know I will lose some people on this one. I still have trouble eating organ meats, which is why I choose to supplement with a daily vitamin that contains liver. (Standard Process Catalyn) I try and try to like liver and have tried to eat other organ meats as well. I have not acquired the taste. Organ meats contain vitamins and minerals in quantities you just can’t find in other foods.
Gelatin, on the other hand, is so delicious either in the form of fruit squares or bone broth soup. The time it takes to prepare these will be an investment in digestive health. Gelatin is a protein derived from collagen, and it has a large profile of amino acids which are necessary for protein production. It helps form strong cartilage and connective tissue. It can help heal the mucous membrane of the digestive tract and is a great tool to help clear up symptoms of food allergies, leaky gut, and autoimmune disorders. It also promotes skin health, mental cognition, cardiovascular health, and joint health. I could go on and on about the benefits of gelatin.
Blueberry Gelatin Recipe
Bone Broth Recipe
3- Drink Raw Apple Cider Vinegar.
For 2-6 year olds: take 1-2 teaspoons daily. For those 6 & up: 1 tablespoon 1-3 times per day. For those with heart burn, gas, or other digestive complaints, drink 3 times daily. You can add the apple cider vinegar to some warm water and add a little raw honey, it's delicious! Apple cider vinegar is great for balancing the ph of the stomach, it’s helpful when trying to lose weight, and is high in potassium. This is a very cost effective way to promote wellness.
20 Apple Cider Vinegar Recipes To Boost Your Health
4- Take Fish Oils such as Cod Liver Oil or Tuna Omega 3s.
I recommend daily supplementation for this and love Standard Process's line of fish oils. They have a delicious chewable Tuna Omega 3 capsule that kids love! Not only do fish oils contain high levels of omega 3 fatty acids-which fuel the brain and are anti-inflammatory-they also contain high levels of Vitamin A & D to benefit the immune system. Ideally we could get all we need of this amazing food through diet, however, I am reluctant to eat fish more than a couple times a month due to possibly coming from contaminated waters.
5- Eat according to your Chinese Medicine constitutional pattern.
You can figure out your Traditional Chinese Medicine diagnosis by consulting with a Chinese Medicine practitioner or by reading up on Chinese Medicine Five Element theory (Between Heaven and Earth by Efram Korngold and Harriet Beinfield). For a good resource on properties of foods, I recommend Healing with Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford, it is an amazing resource for foods and how they relate to your Chinese Medicine diagnosis.