Got Onion Breath? Good for You!: Constantly Sick in CO, What Can We Do? Part VII
Well we have finally reached the end of our article series on the immune system.
As an acupuncturist, in the process of writing and doing the research for this series, I am even more convinced than before that it is vital, and becoming more and more so, that we do everything possible to keep our immune system functioning at its highest states.
As resistant bacterial strains stop responding to antibiotics due to their rampant overuse, and stress and diet tax our digestive systems creating bodies that can no longer fight the normal pathogens that we’re all exposed to everyday, rates of autoimmune diseases, food and other allergies, and dangerous viral illnesses increase daily.
I started this series on immunity simply to address the issue of frequent common colds that I see in my acupuncture practice, but have ended with a much greater respect and awe of the immune system’s vast role in disorders not even commonly related to immunity.
In the end, it all circles back around to what the Chinese medical philosophy has said since the beginning: without strong qi, we become prone to illness, and where we get that qi is primarily from the food we eat.
We must therefore eat foods that will nourish and balance our qi, and we must stay away from foods that tax, block, and weaken it. Common colds are one thing, but autoimmune diseases, and syndromes such as Chronic fatigue, are another.
Any of us in medicine have seen the rates of both skyrocket in recent years. A balanced immune system is the best defense against both.
Tears from Chopping Onions? Turn Those Into Tears of Joy!
Today I’m writing about the last category of foods that have super immune-boosting powers: the onion family. Onions, garlic, and the other vegetables such as shallots, chives, green onions, and leeks, make up the allium family of vegetables.
Studies have demonstrated that these foods are anti-cancer, anti- inflammatory, and antioxidant. But just like the green vegetables mentioned in a past article, these foods must be chopped, crushed, or otherwise pulverized before eating. That is because they too contain an enzyme in their cell walls (called alliinase), which must come in contact with organosulfur compounds inside the cells, to activate them.
These organosulfurs are what are believed to give the foods their medicinal properties. That awful chemical reaction that causes tears to run profusely when you chop onions? That’s the enzyme doing its magic, activating those compounds and turning your food into a super immune-boosting food!
Anti-inflammatory, Anti-Infection action
The onion family has also been shown to be affective against osteoarthritis, but also against infections.
Not surprising then that Chinese medicine prescribes these as some of the most important foods to eat to clear out the “dampness” in the body that causes the swelling associated with arthritis.
Also not surprising that simple green onions, simmered and then drunk as a tea, have been used in China for thousands of years as a great herbal medicine for the first stages of some upper respiratory infections. Food really can be our medicine.
Case Controlled Study
Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s “Super Immunity” quotes results of a case controlled study which showed that the people who ate the most foods from the onion family (about ½ cup chopped onions per day) had more than 50% less cancers than those who did not eat these foods often.
- 56% reduction in colon cancer
- 73% reduction on ovarian cancer
- 88% reduction in esophageal cancer
- 71% reduction in prostate cancer
- 50% reduction in stomach cancer
Geez! What’s for dinner tonight!? I think I’ll just have onions! :-)
OK, maybe I’ll have some kale and mushrooms as well, with some berries for desert. (If you don’t get the joke, refer back to my past articles in this series on immunity)
The good news is, no matter what your Chinese medical diagnosis or constitutional imbalances, almost everyone can eat these foods, and, it is easy to add foods from this family to almost every meal.
A good way would be to just chop a whole onion at once, put it in a BPA-free storage container in your fridge, and just pull some out throughout the day to throw into a quick scramble for breakfast, a soup or sandwich for lunch, and a stir fry or anything else for dinner. Like everything else when it comes to eating well, being prepared is everything.
Grilled red onions? YUM! Make a bunch at once and throw them into your meals over the next couple days.
The more convenient you can make it for yourself when time is under a crunch, the more likely you will be to make the right choices more often.
Take the Journey to Super Immunity with Me!
We are at the end of this article series…now all that’s left is to actually eat these foods often, and/or add in the recommended supplements if it sounds like something that would benefit you. From here on out, I will resume my articles focusing predominantly on health from a Chinese medical perspective.
But before I end, I will ask if you remember, that at the very beginning of the series I said I was going to ask you to go on a journey with me, a journey to boost your immune system. I hope everyone will participate, because these dietary strategies are necessary to follow NOW so that we set up our body as a fortress to ward off, as well as disarm, viruses and pathogenic cells BEFORE they get a chance to take over our bodies, causing common colds, auto-immune diseases, and other illnesses such as chronic fatigue and cancer.
However, it is MOST important that those of you who have been getting sick a lot go on this journey with me, because we already have proof that your immune system is weakened. I have offered the best dietary tips from a western nutritional perspective, as well as powerful supplements that you can take to help.
If you are my patient and we’ve done a nutrition consult, you have the individualized guidelines for the foods that will work energetically to balance your particular imbalances and vulnerabilities.
Now, all that’s left is for you to employ these tactics, as much as possible, every day. That is the journey to a strong immune system.
I myself, in the process of writing these articles, have increased my consumption of these key vegetables exponentially.
Every week I am going through a huge bag of mushrooms, making mushroom soup or stew of every sort, adding kale in wherever possible (and sometimes even when not possible, resulting in…interesting meals. :-) Onions are flying out of my hanging veggie basket, and soon I will be driving to the Pick Your Own Organic Berry farm, where I will fill large flats with berries and take them home to dry and freeze. (Link to follow in an email soon). I have learned so much through the research for this series, and I hope you all have as well.
Make this the year that when I see you in my office in the fall and winter, you get to report that you have NOT been getting frequent colds. :-)
To your health and a fun and inspiring journey to Super Immunity!