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Immune Support Using Food as Medicine

Immune Support Using Food as Medicine

One of the things you can do to support your immune system or when you feel like you may be getting sick is to eat certain foods that can boost your immune system. Here are 4 foods and 2 recipes to support your immune system.

The concept of food as medicine is as old as time, and it is a core principle of Traditional Chinese Medicine. One of the best things you can do during the cold winter months or when you feel like you may be getting sick is to eat certain foods that can boost your immune system.

Having a strong digestive system is very important in Traditional Chinese Medicine for supporting your immune system, as that is where your body draws its energy to support all of its functions, including immunity.

Ginger and Green Onion

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, both ginger and green onions are viewed as warming foods that are good for fighting off the seeping cold and dampness of fall and winter. It is often the invasion of cold and damp that weakens your immune system and makes you more susceptible to colds, the flu, and other infections. By eating more ginger and green onion when it’s cold and wet out, you can boost your immune system and hopefully fend off any illness.

Cinnamon and Brown Sugar

Like ginger and green onions, cinnamon and brown sugar are also seen as warming foods that can help support your immune system. Cinnamon can help circulation and balance blood sugar levels, as well as have anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, both white sugar and brown sugar are considered a “qi tonic”, but brown sugar is considered more warming making it better for immune support. Both cinnamon and brown sugar should be used in moderation.

Try these recipes that include ginger, green onion, cinnamon, or brown sugar on a cold day or when you start to feel the slightest bit sick. Generally, food-as-medicine work best as preventative measures, not when you are already feeling sick or unwell.

Ginger and Green Onion Porridge

Makes 4 servings.

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup rice
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tsp cooking oil
  • 1 tb mirin
  • 2 stalks of green onion, diced
  • 2 tb fresh ginger, minced/grated
Directions
  1. In a large pot, bring water with rice to a boil and then reduce to a simmer
  2. Cover and cook on low for one hour, stirring occasionally
  3. If porridge becomes too thick, add more water as needed
  4. In a separate pan, sauté green onions and ginger in oil
  5. When green onions are clear and ginger is soft, remove from heat
  6. When porridge is done, add green onion and ginger mixture

For more flavor, try adding shredded chicken or ground pork, serve with a drizzle of sesame oil or sesame seeds and cilantro. Add sautéed mushrooms for even more immune boosting magic!

Ginger and Green Onion Tea

Makes 2 servings.

Ingredients
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/4 cup sliced fresh ginger root
  • 3 stalks of green onion, cut in half
  • 1 tsp brown sugar (or more for taste)
Directions
  1. In a saucepan add ginger, green onion, and water
  2. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer, and simmer for 20 minutes
  3. Add sugar, stir to dissolve
  4. Strain tea into cups and let it cool

For best results, drink this tea warm. If the tea is too spicy from the ginger, you can add more sugar to cut the taste, but try to add as little as possible.