ASK ELSA: How do I shake this damn cough?
Q I've had a bad cold and cough for more than 10 days now that I just can't seem to shake. I know antibiotics are of no use for cold and flu so what natural options would you recommend?
A First and foremost I would encourage you to keep hydrated (at least two litres of fluid per day) as dehydration slows down recovery time. An effective cold remedy can be made simply by squeezing half a lemon into hot water and adding a teaspoon of Manuka honey. The combined ingredients will soothe the respiratory tract and will also act as an anti-microbial and anti-bacterial to improve immune resistance. Herbal teas such as fenugreek and rosehip, liquorice or echinacea can also be useful.
I'd also recommend that you reduce acid forming foods that contribute to mucus congestion such as dairy, sugar and wheat and focus on simple alkalising foods such as chicken soup, miso soup, vegetable juices and steamed green leafy vegetables. These foods can lighten the load on the digestive system, thereby leaving more energy reserves for the immune system.
Add plenty of garlic, ginger, chillies and horseradish to your diet as these will act as a decongestant as well as help to open up the sinus cavities. Also, make sure to stay warm and get plenty of rest and sleep to help your body recover properly.
You might also consider using a steam inhalation of eucalyptus oil in a bowl of hot water to alleviate nasal congestion. Lean over the bowl with a towel over your head and spend 10 minutes inhaling the vapours.
Q I'm having friends over for lunch and I'm looking for a really easy but healthy soup recipe, any suggestions?
A Red pepper soup would be a good option for you. Simply sauté one chopped red onion and two crushed garlic cloves in a little olive oil until soft. Add three coarsely chopped red peppers and one diced sweet potato to the pan along with one teaspoon of paprika. Add enough vegetable stock so that the ingredients are covered and simmer until the potato becomes soft. Marigold reduced-salt vegetable bouillon works well as a stock. Blend into a smooth soup using either a hand blender or food processor and season with sea salt and black pepper.
Not only is this soup delicious and low in calories it's also bursting with antioxidants from the red pepper, garlic and sweet potato. Antioxidants boost our immunity, slow down the ageing process and help our skin look youthful and radiant. Your friends will feel great and will be glowing with health after it. Try serving the soup alongside toasted strips of wholemeal pita bread and hummus for a quick, healthy and satisfying lunch. Any leftover soup can be frozen for future use.
Elsa Jones is a qualified nutritional therapist. She offers one-to-one consultations to treat your individual health concerns. www.elsajones nutrition.ie