Fight Illness with Food

Over the last couple of years I have learned how important eating the right foods are for one's body. In fact, food is one of the biggest contributing factors to our health, whether good or bad.
Of course, the purpose of eating right isn't about living a superior lifestyle, but rather about doing our part to take care of the body we've been given.
When It Began
Our family began making food changes about three years ago as a result of some dietary issues our children were dealing with. It really opened our eyes to the affect that food, even in minute quantities, can have on our body.
My husband began reading numerous books about food, farming practices and more (mostly books by Joel Salatin). We then took that knowledge and began to apply it little by little to the food choices our family was making.
Choose Better Food Sources
We don't do it perfectly. In fact, as much as I would love to, it is rare that I buy grass fed beef, for example, because we live on one income that is well, ummmm, not very big. Occasionally I'll get it if it's on sale, but more often I buy Laura's Lean Beef, because it has no added hormones or antibiotics and the cows are fed a vegetarian diet. (Read more about how Laura's Lean Beef raise their beef here.).
Laura's Lean Beef also offers your typical selections in the type of ground beef you can purchase at your local grocer (92% Lean Ground Beef, 96% Lean Ground Round, and 96% Lean Ground Sirloin) and you can also purchase various cuts such as Eye of Round, Flank Steak, Ribeye Steak, Sirloin Steak, Strip Steak, Tenderloin Filet and Top Round.
Although I prefer the taste and texture of grass fed beef from Whole Foods, I'm very thankful for a company such as Laura's Lean Beef because it gives our family another option other than the low quality beef that is typically found in grocery stores.
Lessen the Load
In regards to your overall food choices, the idea is to gradually lessen the amount of toxins you're taking in by choosing better sources of food and to increase the amount of antioxidants, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory foods that we're consuming. (Here's a great post by Dr. Mom Online to help you get started in that transition.)
In regards to preventing and fighting illness there are a few things I try to do. One is to lessen my sugar and caffeine (not that I drink that much anyways) intake and to increase my Real Food intake. (What is Real Food? It's food in it's most natural state. Think raw fruits, veggies, meat, water.)
One of my go-to's when I sense one of us is coming down with something is garlic and raw honey. I learned this great tip from the Making Babies DVD series from the Bulk Herb Store. Simply peel a clove of garlic, chop it up finely and drizzle it with honey. Just eat it like that and it will help your body rev up its antibody powerhouse!
Garlic is excellent for you, especially in it's raw state because of its antiviral and antibacterial properties. It is also an anti-inflammatory as well. To get the most antioxidant benefits it's been said you need to consume 5 cloves a day. (If you're on certain meds check with your doctor before consumin g this much garlic.)  That being said, I'd only consume that much if I was fighting an illness and it would definitely have to be with honey, otherwise I wouldn't be able to choke it down!
Garlic is great to cook with, but try to add it towards the end of the cooking time so that it doesn't lose its fantastic health benefits.
And instead of taking a garlic pill every day, go for the real deal. "Nutrition experts recommend that you opt for whole food when you can and be wary of pills that claim to contain the requisite amounts of a particular immune-building or flu-fighting compound. 'Flu viruses are quick to develop resistance to a single synthetic compound,' says James Duke, author of The Green Pharmacy. For example, he says, 'viruses are much less likely to develop resistance to a plant like garlic that contains 5,000 natural chemicals.'” source
Garlic is also great as a cancer fighter, too. "Results of several studies show that people who eat a large amount of garlic have less risk of developing colo-rectal and stomach cancers." It has also been shown to be beneficial in fighting breast, prostate, throat and skin cancers. source
Raw Honey. Raw Honey has been shown to be anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal so it is obviously a great food to help boost your immune system. It's also a great alternative to sugar. You should choose raw versus processed honey because processed honey has been heated so much so that the health benefits are destroyed.

Sometimes I bake with honey, but I use it on an almost daily basis in my tea. "Raw honey contains 27 minerals, 22 amino acids and 5,000 live enzymes....One daily spoonful in your tea or spread on your toast is all that is needed to reap these benefits." source (Click here to read more about the health benefits of raw honey.)
Each Fresh Fruit and Veggies. This probably goes with out saying, but raw fruits and vegetables have numerous antioxidants and vitamins in them and are easiest for your body to digest allowing it to focus on healing rather than breaking down the food. Focus on bananas, onions, aritchokes and garlic because they are all prebiotics which aid in the growth of probiotics (more on probiotics' role in a healthy immune system in an upcoming post.) 
Drink Water. And lots of it. Staying hydrated is very important because it helps your body flush out toxins. Your kidneys are designed to help eliminate toxins from your body but they need water in order to function properly. About all we drink around our house is water with the exception of my husband who drinks raw milk. Not only is water great for you, it's cheaper than juice, pop or other beverages.
Reduce Your Sugar Intake. Sugar inhibits the immune system so the best thing you can do for your health is limit your sugar intake. I do still have sugar in our home, but I generally save it for baking and not much else. Although I must admit I prefer brown sugar instead of maple syrup in my steel cut oats. Thankfully, our kids prefer the maple syrup! I'll talk more about how sugar sabotages our immune system in an upcoming post.
Limit or completely eliminate fruit juices. It is rare that I ever buy juice for our family because of the sugar content and the fact that eating the fruit itself is so much better for us. "When you drink juices, you miss out on all the fiber found within the fruit. The fiber (pith, skin, flesh, etc.) slows down the digestion process of the fruit juices and prevents the juice from entering your system too quickly. By eating everything, you can keep your energy level at a consistent high as opposed to creating the spike-and-drop effect from the concentrated juices." source
Stop drinking pop, or soda or fountain drinks, whatever you call them in your neck of the woods. Pop is filled with sugar which inhibits the immune system and also has High Fructose Corn Syrup. Pop (at least that's what we call it) can have up to 12.5 teaspoons of sugar in just one can!  "The acid found in colas can also do damage to your intestinal tract, which allows germs to enter."

As you can see, what we don't eat is just as important as what we do eat. I think that as you start to implement some of the ways we'll talk about in this series to naturally fight illness you will be pleasantly surprised as the results. We still live in a sin-cursed world and there will be illness, but if by doing just a few right things we decrease the severity or rate of occurrence then I think that's a great thing!
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