As promised, below you can find my "souped up" (pun intended) Immune boosting Chicken Quinoa Soup recipe. To read more about recent research showing that chicken soup has scientific evidence supporting an anti-viral effect click here.
This soup has all the benefits if standard chicken soup plus the addition of garlic and tumeric for an added anti-viral and anti-inflammatory effect. I also replaced the noodles with quinoa for added protein. Wheat-based (contain gluten and egg) noodles promote inflammation in the digestive track which has a counter-productive effect on the immune system. Quinoa is gluten free grain and is packed with protein. Feel free to modify it to your liking.
Dr Hrkal’s Flu-Busting Chicken Quinoa Soup
1 free run, grain fed chicken breast
1 package of bone in chicken legs
3 large onions
1 cup cooked quinoa
8 cups of organic chicken stock (or spring water)
4 large carrots
4 celery stems
1 bunch of parsley
2 bay leaves
1 clove garlic, minced
½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
½ turmeric powder
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Clean the chicken, dice, put it in a large pot and cover it with cold water. Bring the water to boil.
2. Add the chicken legs, onions, turnips and carrots. Simmer on medium heat for about 1 hour. Remove fat from the surface as it accumulates.
3. Add the parsley, celery cayenne pepper, turmeric, and garlic . Cook the mixture about 45 min. longer.
4. Remove bay leaves.
5. Serve broth, meat and vegetables with cooked quinoa in bowl. (You may also put vegetables in the food processor to liquefy before adding them back into the soup).
6. Add salt and pepper to taste.
In an earlier post I highlighted some recent research that showed chicken soup actually may be beneficial in combating the flu infection. Click here to read more. In this article I highlight my tried and tested anti-flu strategy that I employ as soon as the earliest signs of the flu are present. Read on to see how you can cut the duration of your flu and even stop it from becoming full blown.
1) Early ID is key: The earlier we can identify that we are coming down with an influenza infection the better the chance we can fight it off or even stop it from becoming an full blown infection. Unlike other illnesses, the flu starts with a characteristic “prodromal” or early stage. The key symptoms to look for are muscle aches, especially in the neck, back and legs. These aches are actually a normal response by the body to breakdown our muscle tissue to increase amino acid availability for our immune system to make more white blood cells. Other early signs are headaches, fatigue, nausea and fever (not all necessarily together). As soon as you feel these symptoms initiate your anti-flu protocol. We will discuss this in the following points.
2) Get your rest: The sooner you rest and sleep the better outcome you will have during the flu. If you get to bed early enough, you can often abort the flu and stop it from progressing into the full-blown stage. This is not the time to be a hero, crawl under the covers and try to sleep because your immune system is most active during this time.
3) Drink liquids: This is where the chicken soup comes in as a great anti-flu remedy. It is a great fluid because it provides protein for your immune system to function, carnosine to combat the virus, electrolytes to keep you balanced (especially if vomiting) and hydration to maintain cellular function. Herbal teas are also great options. Two of my favorites are licorice and chamomile because they have soothing, anti-inflammatory and anti-nausea effects.
4) Don’t suppress your fever: One of the most common mistakes people make when they get sick and find our they have a fever is that is take an acetaminophen (Tylenol). Our culture is generally too quick to suppress a modest fever with medication due to the (overblown) fear of getting a seizure. This danger is only a reality in very high temperatures (greater than 104 degrees F). When is doubt, please consult your healthcare provider. Unfortunately, suppressing a fever is actually working against the body’s defense system since our own immune cells actually stimulate the fever because they become more powerful at higher temperatures. Using anti-fever medication can actually prolong the illness and preventing your immune system from successfully clearing the infection.
5) Homeopathic medicine to the rescue: One of my most trusted anti-flu remedies is a homeopathic medicine called Oscillococcinum. Various homeopathic remedies have been used for decades as potent treatments from all stages of viral infections. They had one of the highest success rates of disease resolution in the Spanish flu outbreak during the early 1900’s. Oscillococcinum (also available as Mucococcinum in a similar product) is a remedy specifically used in the early stages of the flu and can often stop the flu from progressing in to the full-blow stages. There are number of studies and reviews that have found Oscillococcinum to be effective for early stage influenza infection (1). Other remedies can be used very effectively for other, more progressed stages. Consult a Naturopathic doctor to find out which one is best suited from you and your symptom picture.
6) Power up on herbs: If all else fails, I turn to herbal medicine to help resolve the flu. There are number of herbs with research supporting their anti-viral activity. My 2 favourites are Echinacea and Andrographis. See my article on Immune boosting remedies for more information on these herbs and other strategies They both have studies supporting their ability to boost immune cell function and cut the duration of the cold and flu. A great child friendly herbal remedy is syrup made from elderberry fruit. Research shows that it cuts the duration of the flu and tastes great so children love it. Find it at your local health food store in a product called Sambucol®.
No one likes getting the flu but if it does happen don’t hesitate to employ some of your grandma’s wisdom. The chicken soup that seems to cure everything may actually have some scientific merit in helping you get over an infection. To see my "souped-up" chicken soup recipe click here. It contains all the flavour of grandma’s recipe with a few tweaks to improve its immune boosting power. At the earliest signs or symptoms start your anti-flu protocol so you can prevent the progression, cut the duration and get back to doing what you need to do. For more information on how to boost your immune system please see my article on how to keep your immune system is tip-top shape.
(1) Vickers AJ, Smith C. Homoeopathic Oscillococcinum for preventing and treating influenza and influenza-like syndromes. ) Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2006 Jul 19;(3):CD001957
It is the time of year when everyone around us is coming down with either the cold or the flu. We are meeting family members and friends for parties, the weather is cold and the stress of the New Year is ramping up. When feeling under the weather, it’s almost instinctive that we want to relax under a warm blanket and have a cup of grandma’s famous chicken noodle soup to aid in our recovery. Most people value chicken soup as nature’s anti-flu elixir but is there any evidence supporting this belief or is it just a folk myth?
Believe it or not, there is new research that may support the benefit of chicken soup in fighting off viral infections and boosting our immune system (1). A recent study found that carnosine, a potent antioxidant found in chicken (and chicken soup), has a key role is disrupting viral replication and spread inside our cells. Carnosine is a key antioxidant with a primary role of neutralizing damaging free radicals inside our cells. By comparison, vitamin C is another potent antioxidant but its role is outside the cell. The influenza virus causes its damage and infection but taking over our own human cellular machinery to make more copies of itself. It actually will infect and hijack healthy human cells as a mechanism to spread its infection. The study found that carnosine blocks this “hijacking” process by quenching free radials produced by the virus. This suggests that a diet high in carnosine could help prevent and possibly even stop the flu. Carnosine is also available as a supplement in capsule form where it is used as a powerful antioxidant to prevent the damage that occurs in diabetes, high performance sports and aging.
This wasn’t the first study citing that chicken soup is more than just folklore. A widely publicized study in 2000 found that chicken soup has anti-inflammatory activity, which may reduce the symptoms of the flu such as headaches, chest congestion and achiness (2). The results were preliminary but they were the first to lend credibility to an age-old remedy passed down for generations. To read more about this study including the full text and original chicken soup recipe used in the trial click here.
Is this enough evidence to state that chicken soup is a flu-busting cure? Not really, but it does shed some light on what we can do if we feel an infection starting. It does lend more support to a flu remedy we swear by and will continue to pass down from generation to generation. Check out my upcoming blogs to see my anti-flu plan and see the recipe for my very own Immune Boosting Chicken Soup Recipe.
(1) Babizhayev MA, Deyev AI. Management of the virulent influenza virus infection by oral formulation of nonhydrolized carnosine and isopeptide of carnosine attenuating proinflammatory cytokine-induced nitric oxide production. Am J Ther. 2012 Jan;19(1):e25-47
(2) Rennard BO, Ertl RF, Gossman GL, Robbins RA, Rennard SI. Chicken soup inhibits neutrophil chemotaxis in vitro. Chest. 2000 Oct;118(4):1150-7.
The holiday season is a great time to relax and spend time with loved ones and family members. Unfortunately, it’s also the time when we often come down with the cold or flu. Despite our best intensions we usually end up staying up late, are under extra stress and over eat foods that are high in sugar. Plus the weather is cold and wet so the stage is set for you to get that “bug that is going around.”
Let me highlight some easy, natural and effective strategies you can employ to protect yourself and your family from getting that nasty cold or flu. Put the points into practice and you will decrease your chances of infection, improve your immunity and enjoy your holidays symptom free!
Limit The Sugar
Its not reasonable to say don’t eat any sugar during the holidays but try to limit it. A diet that is high in refined sugar suppresses the immune system. Studies have shown that a large serving of sugar (i.e. candy, cake, cookies etc.) can suppress the immune system for a number of hours after eating them which opens the door for you to succumb to that virus you picked up. Look for options to that are lower in sugar such as fruit jello, rice pudding and apple crisp.
Get Your ZZZ’s
Getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night optimizes the function of your immune cells. People that don’t sleep enough have an increased chance to become infected. It’s very easy to lose track of time and stay up late during the holidays so make sure you are getting enough. The added benefit is that getting enough sleep will help you maintain a healthy weight since sleep helps your body keep you balance your hormones and maintain a healthy metabolism.
Move Your Lymph
Our immune cells travel around our bodies in a substance called lymph fluid. Unlike blood, lymph is not “pumped” throughout the body by vessels. Rather it is moved passively when we contract our muscles. Its is very important that we stay active (running, yoga, weight training, sports etc.) to make sure that lymph fluid flows freely throughout your body and delivers immune cells to the places they are needed. When we come down with a cold or flu we often experience swollen lymph nodes in our neck area. This is normal since a large number of cells collect near the area of infection. A simple technique to move the lymph fluid from the neck area is to gently massage the sides of your neck downwards towards your chest. This can disperse the build up of immune cells, relieved congestion in the throat and stimulate the movement of new lymph fluid.
Boost Your Good Bugs
It’s a little counterintuitive but the bacteria (probiotics) that you have in your gut are essential to a healthy immune system. Most of our immune cells are actually stored around our intestines. Good probiotics in our intestines turn on the cells that produce and activate our immune cells. They also prevent harmful bacteria from taking over and causing an infection. This is why there is such as close connection between the health of your gut and the rest of your body. Natural sources of probiotic are fermented foods such as sauerkraut, yogurt and kimchi. To the get the optimal amounts to stimulate the immune system a probiotic supplement would be most effective. Look for one that has multiple types (species) for maximal benefit and protection.
Mind Your D’s And C’s
Vitamin D and C are immunity superstars. They both can be used to prevent and reduce the duration of the cold and flu. Vitamin D is a key factor in turning on the immune system so it is ready to fight invaders. This is especially important in the winter months when we have limited exposure to natural sunlight. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that can stimulate the immune system, offset the effects of diet high in sugar and promote viral and bacterial destruction. The optimal doses vary depending on the person and their needs but the most recent studies indicate 2000-4000IU of vitamin D and 2-4g of vitamin C per day are the best to maintain optimal immune function. For the most potent immune support, Vitamin C when given intravenously is one of the most powerful therapies to beat an infection. Anti-microbial action and delivery into your body is maximized through this safe and cutting edge treatment. To learn more visit my Intravenous Therapy page.
Herbs have been used for many years as powerful and safe tools for the prevention and treatment of colds and flu. We may not realize it but the herbal tea we have been drinking for years can be used to boost our immune system. For example, ginseng and green tea have immune stimulating and anti-viral effects (respectively). Teas are great as a gentle, preventative approach but for the best therapeutic effect, herbal supplements such as Echinacea and Andrographis offer excellent action against bacterial and viral infections. One of my personal favorites is the herb called Andrographis paniculata. It has been used in Ayurvedic (east Indian) traditional medicine for hundreds of years with excellent results for reducing sinusitis, colds and flus. Recent studies are now showing that using the herb for just 3 days reduced the symptoms and duration colds and the flus.
Get The Natural Cold And Flu Shot
We are all familiar with getting the flu vaccine in the fall but many people are now starting to wonder about its safety and effectiveness. A natural alternative works differently but with the same goal to prevent both colds and the flu. Licensed Naturopathic doctors can inject a botanical and mineral remedy directly into your muscle to stimulate your immune system to fight off any infection. This direct and potent approach has been used for many years by Germany physician’s to boost the immune system without any of the potential side effects associated with the conventional flu vaccine. It also offer much more broad spectrum protection against any virus or bacterial rather than only a few strains of the influenza virus. To learn more about injection therapy visit my Injection therapy page
The holidays are a wonderful time of year but don’t let a cold or flu spoil them. Remember an “once of prevention is a pound of cure” so apply some of the above strategies to protect yourself and keep your immune system in top form. Staying healthy and “cold –free” does not have to be difficult or expensive. Start with simple steps such as limiting your sugar intake and getting enough sleep. Then apply some natural and effective herbs and vitamins to really kick your immune system into high gear. If you have any questions about what strategy is best for you get in touch with me at my Contact page.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays,
Dr Paul Hrkal ND
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