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Elderberries: The Natural Cold and Flu Fighter

Janis Covey

Elderberries are your immune system’s best friend!  They contain a plethora of vitamins and minerals to keep your immune system a lean, mean disease fighting machine. 

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Elderberries are rich in both vitamins A and C which are vital to the immune system’s function. Vitamin C is required for phagocytes and t-cells to preform their disease-fighting tasks. Vitamin A is an immune enhancer that increases the power of the antibody response. It also maintains and restores the integrity and function of all mucosal surfaces including the digestive tract. 

Elderberries also contain chemical compounds called anthocyanidins which are a subgroup of bioflavanoids.  Anthocyanidins are are known to have immunostimulant effects. 

Elderberry Syrup:  A daily dose can assist you in keeping your immune system healthy and help prevent illness. 

2/3 cup dried black elderberries (about 3 ounces)
3 1/2 cups of water
2 Tablespoons of ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
1 cup raw honey (local is best since it can also help with seasonal allergies).  If you would like to keep the recipe vegan or are going to be giving to children under 2 you can substitute Maple Syrup.

 

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  1. Pour water into medium saucepan and add elderberries, ginger, cinnamon and cloves
  2. Bring to a boil and then cover and reduce to a simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour until the liquid has reduced by almost half. 
  3. Remove from heat and let cool enough to be handled.  Pour through a strainer lined with cheesecloth into a bowl.  Then wring out the elderberries wrapped in the cheesecloth. 
  4. Discard the elderberries and let the liquid cool to lukewarm. When it is no longer hot, add 1 cup of honey or sweetener of your choice and stir well.
  5. When well mixed, pour the syrup into a quart sized mason jar or 16 ounce glass bottle of some kind.
  6. The finished syrup will last refrigerated for up to 2 weeks. 


Dosage:

  1. Prevention: 

Adults: 1 tsp one to two times a day

Children: 1/2 tsp once a day

  1. Treament:

Adults: 3 tsp up to 4 times a day 

Children: About half of the adult dose (always check with Pediatrician before starting a new treatment)

References:

Randomized Study of the Efficacy and Safety of Oral Elderberry Extract in the Treatment of Influenza A and B Virus Infections

Elderberry Supplementation Reduces Cold Duration and Symptoms in Air-Travellers: A Randomized, Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial

 

Matcha! Matcha! Matcha!

Janis Covey

What is Matcha? 

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Matcha is a special type of powdered green tea. The tea leaves are grown with some of the same processes as regular green tea but with a hitch. The leaves are covered with shade cloths before harvest in order to promote better flavor and texture of the leaves. Once this is accomplished the leaves are handpicked, steamed for a short period of time and then dried and put into cold storage to age. Once the tea leaves reach this stage the leaves are then ground into the matcha powder that we all know and love. What is interesting is that matcha literally means “powdered tea,” that’s not too hard to remember!

Why Matcha?

Besides being a wonderful warm drink, matcha has of benefits associated with health. It has been found that matcha is nutrient-rich with vitamins A, C, E, K and the vitamin B-complex, There are also trace minerals and antioxidants which help fight off free radicals. With this, the antioxidants in matcha play a role in helping boost the immune system naturally, as well as helping to combat oxidative stress which can lead to inflammation. It has also been noted that there are additional health benefits for those who have type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular issues because matcha supports keeping cholesterol, triglyceride, and hepatic glucose levels low. 

What Else?

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The form of caffeine that is present in matcha is theophylline which allows for a sustainable energy. Matcha gets its bright green color from the chlorophyll that is present in the leaves. It is this chemical compound that is a valuable detoxifier for not only the blood but the colon as well by helping to flush out toxins from the body.  Interesting, matcha has been found to produce a calming effect on the body due to the presence of L-theanine, an naturally occurring amino acid with anti-anxiety properties. This amino has been studied through its ability to act on the brain in such a way that it produces a calming effect without the drowsiness that is usually associated.

It is clear that this powdered tea has many hallmark characteristics and benefits, what’s not to love?!

Here is one of our favorite matcha recipes:

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INGREDIENTS:
4 tbsp (30 grams) all purpose flour
1 tsp high quality matcha powder
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp (12.5 grams) granulated white sugar (add more if you prefer a sweeter dessert)
3 tbsp (45 ml) nonfat milk
1/2 tbsp (7.5 ml) vegetable oil

DIRECTIONS:
In a microwave-safe mug, add flour, matcha powder, baking powder and sugar. Whisk until evenly blended and no lumps remain. You want to make sure to break apart any matcha or flour lumps before adding the liquid.
Add in milk and oil. Mix with whisk until batter is smooth and uniform in color. Cook in the microwave at full power for about 1 minute. Let cake cool for a few minutes before eating.
 

Boost Your Immune System Naturally

Janis Covey

With Cold and Flu season upon us, now is a great time to give your immune system a natural boost.  Here are some simple ways to naturally boost your immune system.

 

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1.       Vitamin C: Vitamin C is a powerhouse!  It is a potent anti-oxidant.   It boosts the immune system by supporting important cell-mediated immune responses and enhancing lymphocytes, natural killer cells and antibody production.  The best way to get your vitamin C is from whole food sources such as citrus fruits, red bell peppers and strawberries. 

2.      Get your Zzz’s:  Lack of sufficient sleep suppresses the immune system.  The more sleep deprived you are the more likely you are to get sick.  Most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep per night.  School aged children (6-13 years) need 9-11 and Teens (14-17) need 8-10 hours per night.

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3.      Wash Your Hands:  There are numerous studies showing that frequent hand washing reduces the spread of germs and your chances of getting sick.  Although, DO NOT wash your hands with soaps containing anti-bacterial agents such as triclosan.  The FDA has ruled that there is no additional illness protection using products containing anti-bacterial agents versus washing with plain old soap and water.

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4.      Drink Plenty of Fluids Mainly Water:  Staying hydrated is so important for overall health especially immune function.  Water keeps all the body’s systems working at their optimal level.  Drinking plenty of water flushes out toxins and keeps proper blood volume allowing the proper amount of oxygen to be carried to cells and help them function properly.  Water also is vital in the production of lymph.  Lymph is what the immune system uses to move White Blood Cells and other immune cells throughout the body to fight disease.