Food as medicine

Thanks to my lovely colleague Cath Bender for sending me the link to this TED talk.

United States based physician and scientist Dr Terry Wahls tells the amazing story of how she used diet to cure her MS.  She followed a logical process of research to highlight the specific nutrients necessary to maintain the health of her brain and nervous system and then built a diet abundant with these nutrients. Her recovery is incredible.

What we can all take from this is the inspiration to make the effort to include these important foods in our diet as much as possible.  It is not always easy to eat the amounts of fresh greens, brightly coloured vegetables and berries and essential fatty acids that were effective in halting and turning around the nervous system degeneration experienced by Dr Wahls.  But for anybody who is looking to prevent chronic disease these foods are here waiting to offer you their benefits, even if you start to gradually include them alongside your normal diet.  Start slow, get into good habits and build from there.

I was inspired to take these suggestions and use them to make breakfast.  This is my free range egg omelette filled with sautéed red onion and fresh sorrel, silverbeet and parsley from our garden.  I crumbled some goats cheese through the eggs, which may or may not have been in keeping with the diet, but tasted excellent.

Hunter gatherer omelette

 

Take your immune system to lunch

Last week I succumbed to the spring cold that has been going around so I decided to raid the fridge for an immune boosting lunch.

The basic elements I was looking for were:

  • Protein: to give my body the building blocks it needs to fight viruses and make antibodies.  This could be a small amount of lean meat, fish, soy or egg, or a combination of plant proteins such as grains, nuts, seeds and legumes.
  • Vegetables: filled with vitamins, minerals and plant chemicals that boost our immune function and help cleanse our bodies of waste.  The more variety and colour, the better.
  • Spices: the edible medical cabinet, all culinary herbs and spices have medicinal properties and are used in cultures around the world for their health enhancing effects.
  • Grains: carbohydrates are our primary energy source and a small amount of a whole grain like brown rice or quinoa with veges and protein makes a well rounded meal.

Any combination of ingredients will do, as long as you try to include the elements above.  Here is what I made:

Immunelunch

Tofu & green vegetable stir fry with garlic, tumeric and quinoa

It only took about half an hour and left me feeling well nourished!

The protein:  Tofu and tempeh, both great vegetarian protein sources, cubed and stir fried in chilli oil.  Set aside to wait.

The vegetables: Greens!! Brocolli, zucchini, green beans and shallots, sliced and slowly stir fried with peanut oil, a little sesame oil and sliced garlic.  Garlic is one of the best immune boosting ingredients we have, acting like a natural antibiotic.

The spices: fennel and cumin seeds are great digestion boosters; I added the whole seeds with the oil and veges.  Tumeric is an amazing root with anti-inflammatory and immune building properties; I added the powder with a little water when the veges were almost done.  Also sea salt, black pepper and a little bit of spicy seasoning (Trocomare).

The grains:  Left over cooked rice and red quinoa (from the fridge or cooked in the rice cooker as required), added at the end after the spices, stir fried to warm through and take on the flavours.  Quinoa is a high protein grain that contains good levels of the amino acid lysine which helps your body fight viral infections.

The best part was the delicious and health promoting leftovers that I found in the fridge the next time I went searching for an immune boosting meal.