Fire Cider Health Tonic

 

As a family with two naturopathic doctors, we love to explore new recipes, especially ones that have added immune benefits. We found this recipe from Rebecca Lindamood at Foodie with Family and have been taking a shot of it daily to prevent illness.

What is Fire Cider?

Fire Cider is a concentrated liquid mixture of different herbs and foods. It is beneficial to the immune system and is traditionally used for the prevention of different illnesses such as colds and flu’s  and viral infections.

What are the benefits of fire cider?

Fire cider has a number of different herbs that are beneficial to your health. When herbs are used in combination, they can enhance the benefit of others in the mixture. This is called a synergistic effect.

Several of the herbs in this recipe, such as ginger, turmeric, onion, orange, rosemary, parsley and lemon are both anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory. Anti-oxidants help to promote healthy cells, including immune cells, and anti-inflammatories help to reduce underlying inflammation in the body which can lead to an increased risk of illness.

Garlic and horseradish are great anti-microbials meaning they help to fight off bacteria, viruses and even fungal infections.  Horseradish is traditionally used for sinus issues. Garlic has added benefits of helping control blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

The spicy habanero pepper increases circulation which can help the immune cells get to a site of infection faster.

Thyme is antimicrobial, but it is also great at helping to reduce the amount of coughing and helping to remove any phlegm from the lungs.

Apple cider vinegar is a great digestive aid.

Honey helps to soothe inflamed tissue and helps to add a little sweetness to this recipe.

Recipe

Taken from: https://www.foodiewithfamily.com/fire-cider-health-tonic-and-homeopathic-remedy/

Ingredients:

·       1 large horseradish root scrubbed very well, ~7” long

·       1 large ginger root ~7” long

·       1 large onion root and stem end removed & peeled

·       1 large orange do NOT peel. Use the whole fruit.

·       1 lemon do NOT peel. Use the whole fruit.

·       16 cloves of garlic peeled

·       2-4 habanero peppers stems removed

·       1 tablespoon ground turmeric

·       2 tbsp rosemary leaves (optional)

·       ¼ cup parsley (optional)

·       2 tbsp thyme (optional)

·       1 tsp black peppercorns (optional)

·       raw apple cider vinegar

·       raw honey

Instructions:

  1. In a well-ventilated area, grate the horseradish and ginger roots.
  2. Roughly chop the peeled onions and garlic, whole oranges, lemons, and habaneros. Keep the peels on the lemons and oranges!
  3. Add these prepared ingredients into a large container that has a lid, such as a large mason jar.
  4. Sprinkle turmeric into the container.
  5. Slowly, pour the raw apple cider vinegar in allowing it to settle in through the crevices and adding more so the contents are fully submerged.
  6. Lay a piece of parchment paper over the rim of the jar, then screw the lid tightly in place.
  7. Let the mixture sit in a dark, cool place, allowing it to infuse, for 4 weeks, shaking once daily when you remember it.
  8. Replace the parchment paper once weekly to prevent rusting of the mason jar lid.
  9. After 4 weeks, pour the contents into a muslin or cheesecloth-lined colander over a stable pot. Let it drain for 30 minutes, then gather the corners and twist to wring out as much goodness as possible.
  10. Add approximately 1/4 cup of raw honey to the liquid to taste and pour into a sterilized wine bottle or canning jar. Store in a cool, dark place for up to a year, shaking well before using.

How much fire cider vinegar should I have?

For most individuals, the recommended dose is 1 tbsp per day in the morning. You can also try adding the vinegar to salad dressings and on top of cooked vegetables.

 

The Foundations of Immune Health: Part 4 – Exercise

 

In order to make sure our bodies are functioning optimally, we must first address the foundations of immune health. If we can work towards the foundations of health, then we provide the body with a fighting chance against many different illnesses and disease. It is a good idea to come back to these foundations every day, and check in to see where you may need some additional support to ensure that we can prevent illness. The foundations of immune health include…

This week we will be talking about exercise and immune health.

Why is Exercise Good for Immune Health?

There are several different mechanisms that exercise can affect immune health. First, it increases blood circulation in the body. When the heart rate is increased, it means that our white blood cells, our immune fighting cells, will move faster around the body and identify any invader to the body. It also means that the body is able to remove toxins and pathogens from the body faster.

The immune system has a direct impact on the number of white blood cells. Research shows that during exercise our white blood cell levels increase. This means that during exercise we are more able to fight infections.

There are also indirect ways that exercising helps the immune system. Exercising has a huge role in stress management and mental health, which are foundational to immune health. Additionally, exercising outdoors allows you to connect with nature and get additional vitamin D, both of which are incredible for immune health.

What do we suggest for exercise?

  • Time: Exercise at least 30 minutes a day, 5 times a week at moderate intensity or 150 minutes a week.
  • Type of Exercise: The type of exercise mainly studied was aerobic exercise. However, anything that gets your heart rate up can be beneficial!
  • Schedule time in your day to exercise. Stay dedicated to this time. Look at is as a self-care time and understand that it is very important for your whole health.
  • Don’t get discouraged. If you don’t hit your goal of exercising, understand that that’s okay. This is a behaviour change and it requires effort, dedication and time.
  • Try to get outside to exercise at least 1-2 times a week. The additional vitamin D you get from being outside can add to additional benefits to your immune health. You get extra points if you exercise surrounded by nature. This can decrease stress hormones and provide extra benefits to the immune system.

The Foundations of Immune Health: Part 3- Diet

Optimizing the immune system requires more than taking a simple pill. It is an interplay between lifestyle and diet.  The foundations of the immune health require special attention to different aspects of your life such as

 

This week we will be discussing how diet plays a role in immune health and tips to make sure your diet supports your immune system.

The Connection Between Diet and the Immune System

Throughout the whole immune process, the body requires certain micronutrients to help fend off invading microbes. One of the best ways to get these micronutrients is through the diet. Food provides energy and nutrients to help our immune cells work effectively in prevention and recovery.

Diet also plays a major role in regulating the gut microbiome. The gut microbiome helps to breakdown and present the infectious agents to the immune cells in specialized tissue called the gut association lymphoid tissue (GALT). If we eat unhealthy food, we can experience something called “dysbiosis” which is an imbalance of our good microbiome bacteria and bad bacteria. The bad bacteria cause the body to go into an inflammatory state. When there are high amounts of inflammation in the gut we can develop something called leaky gut. This means that instead of food particles and bacteria entering the body in controlled ways and being checked by immune cells in the GALT, it now can enter your bloodstream unchecked. This can cause an immune reaction throughout the whole body and cause you to get sick.

Dietary Tips for Immune Health

You may be thinking “well then what should I eat?”. The answer is not as simple as you probably thought. The ideal diet should be individualized for every patient, their health concerns, values, beliefs and lifestyle. The best diets come from a partnership with our naturopathic doctors and their patients. Dietary changes should be reasonable and be able to be sustained for a long time.

In terms of immune health, here are our top dietary recommendations

1. Eat a variety of foods

The best way we like to explain this to patients is by telling them that they should “eat the rainbow”. Basically, this general rule suggests that when you look at your plate, you should see 4-5 different colours of food. Colours represent different nutrients that are in the foods. The immune system requires lots of different vitamins, minerals, proteins and fats to function optimally. The gut microbiome also thrives when exposed to a variety of different foods (see below for more suggestions on how to support your microbiome with food). Some other ideas include switching up your meals at least a couple of times a week, experimenting with cooking new foods and ensuring that all your meals have a protein, vegetables and a fat source, such as olive oil.

2. Eat your veggies and fruit

Vegetables are dense in nutrients. They can help provide your body with different vitamins and minerals. Fruits and vegetables have antioxidant properties which help to reduce damage to our cells and optimize the immune system.  Almost all vegetables and fruit have benefits to the immune system. Some examples of particularly great immune supporting fruits and vegetables are; berries, spinach, citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruits, lemons and limes and cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, cabbage and arugula.

3. Reduce inflammatory foods

During acute illness, inflammation is a good and natural process that helps the immune system fight off infections. However, if we are already in an inflammatory state when we get sick, then we are already using the immune system’s resources on other parts of the body that may not require as much energy. Inflammation leaves our bodies more susceptible to illnesses. The number one inflammatory food is SUGAR! It is also a good idea to avoid processed foods and excessive alcohol as they are also highly inflammatory.

4. Spice up your meals

There are a lot of great spices out that don’t just add a bunch of flavour to your meals, but they also have immune-supporting effects. Garlic has a lot of antimicrobial properties that assists the immune system in preventing you from getting sick. Turmeric is highly anti-inflammatory and is a good antioxidant. Ginger is also good for bringing down the inflammation. These foods will help to improve your immune function. Try adding at least one to every meal.

5. Eat probiotic rich foods

Because a lot of our immune cells are in our gut, it only makes sense that taking care of the gut is an important part of immune health. Probiotics help to populate the intestinal lining with bacteria that are helpful for nutrient absorption. Eat probiotics rich foods such as kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi and miso frequently.

To get more information and to individualize a diet for your health needs, book an appointment with a Naturopathic Doctor today!

 

The Foundations of Immune Health: Part 1 – Sleep

In Naturopathic Medicine, prevention is one of the founding principles that we follow. One of the ways we can ensure the prevention of illness is by ensuring that our immune system is healthy. Having a strong immune system means that we are able to defend against illnesses so that we either do not get sick or have a very short illness period.  To build a strong immune system we must look at its foundational building blocks. These include…

      • A good night’s sleep
      • Stress management
      • A healthy diet
      • Exercise and time outdoors
      • Appropriate supplementation

With the start of school and the current pandemic, these foundations are now more important than ever. For the next couple of weeks, we will be sharing tips about how to best implement the foundational building blocks and some of the best ways to support your immune system.

This week we will be discussing sleep and the impact it has on immune health.

Sleep and the Immune System

 

When we get sick, we often also get tired. This is the body’s natural way of telling you that it needs sleep to help you get better. Sleep plays a major role in regulating the immune system. When we sleep our bodies produce and release proteins called cytokines. Cytokines are used to help the body effectively fend off any infection or illness coming our way. Sleep is also key in establishing immunological memory. It allows the body to store information about a current infection or illness so that the next time it is exposed to it, the immune system can quickly and effectively fend it off.

Sleep deprivation can leave a person susceptible to many different illnesses. While many supplements can be prescribed to help with sleep, we must first address how lifestyle plays a part in sleep. One of the best ways to get a good night’s sleep is by establishing a regular routine. This means getting up at the same time every day, creating a relaxing bedtime routine and going to bed at the same time every night. You can read more about the different sleep hygiene tips we have here and here.

If you struggle with sleep and are looking for support, book an appointment so that we can help support you and prevent illnesses.

Are You Getting Enough Vitamin D?

Every day, I am constantly reminded of how amazing our bodies are. While I was out enjoying the sun this past weekend, I reflected on Vitamin D and how incredible it is that our skin can produce such an important molecule when exposed to the sun.

Vitamin D is an important part of maintaining regular body functions as well as preventing many diseases. Some of the benefits of Vitamin D are…

      • Maintaining calcium and phosphorus balance
      • Promoting strong bones
      • Reducing inflammation
      • Decreasing cardiovascular risk
      • Lowering the risk of cancer
      • Reducing overall mortality rates
      • Lowering the risk of pre-term birth in pregnant women
      • Reduced incidence of dementia
      • And it plays a major role in a healthy immune system. It is associated with…
            1. Increased production of antimicrobial peptides by the immune system.
            2. Less respiratory tract infections
            3. Fewer cases of influenza
            4. Fewer autoimmune diseases

 

Despite longer exposure to sunlight in the summer, Vitamin D deficiency is more common than you may think. In Canada, cold winters have us bundling up, staying indoors and limiting our exposure to the sun. The long winters can put our bodies into a deficient state. Additionally, ageing, disease, obesity, medications and genetic mutations may put a person at risk of vitamin D deficiency.

Luckily, your naturopathic doctor can test your vitamin D in office and help you reach the ideal levels.  This quick test can help us identify causes of illness, help prevent many diseases and promote optimum health.

With the start of back to school right around the corner, it is a good idea to discuss with your naturopathic doctor about the importance of vitamin D.  Book an appointment today to have your vitamin D levels tested.