When discussing nutrition with patients, I try to combine the Energetics of Chinese Medicine with basic nutrition science. This I believe with help patients understand food in a much broader context. It will help them to see food as a key factor for immunity, rather than seeking the next “miracle in a bottle”. The following are some foods I recommend for patients seeking improved immunity during the cold and flu season.
In Chinese Medicine, walnuts are warm and sweet, and enter the lung, kidney and large intestine channels. The properties and actions include tonifying, assisting the kidneys in grasping Qi, warming kidney yang and mild laxative moistening qualities. Nutritional research shows that walnuts are rich in fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. Nourishing the kidneys is a key factor for health and immunity during the winter months, It is an important food for patients with kidney and lung vacuity issues.
These nuts are another nutrient dense food that can easily be added to salads, soups, or Greek yogurt. These seeds are especially rich in vitamins and minerals particularly zinc, magnesium, selenium, vitamin E and B. These nutrients are important during times of stress
and provide important nourishment to the immune system.
In Chinese Medicine, garlic is a pungent taste and warm nature, and acts upon the spleen, stomach and lung channels. Its actions include promoting the circulation of Qi and blood, eliminating toxic substances, destroying parasites, as well as supporting cardiovascular/respiratory health. I always recommend use of fresh garlic, as in this form more active compounds are available for support of the immune system including antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial actions.
An extremely effective combination for immune health during the late winter, early spring months is soup with fresh garlic and oregano. Oregano can be used as a spice or liquid form, and garlic should ideally be added after the meal has been prepared.
Ginger can be used fresh in salads, soups or tea. Ginger can also be used in dry form in capsules or added to soups. This versatile herb is warming and acts specifically on the spleen, stomach and lung channels. For conditions of excess mucus or cold signs, ginger, oregano and garlic can be a perfect combination in soup form to clear and balance the gastric /respiratory systems.
I hope this discussion about convenient foods and herbs to cook with will inspire you to see “Food as Medicine”.
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