Paleo Foods When A Cold/Flu Strikes

This is a photo of my “pre-breakfast” the past week. Gelatin rich, homemade turkey bone broth (with a touch of turkey and a few extra veggies). Natural medicine to boost the body’s fight against foreign invaders. Suffering from a nasty chest cold is not how I envisioned finishing out 2013 and starting 2014, but we can’t always control the timing of such events.


A well balanced “paleo” approach to food should keep you relatively healthy, and help you build a stronger immune system. However, it won’t guarantee you a sick-free year. Winter is a common time to experience a head or chest cold, or even a stomach bug. And, if you do get the unfortunate visit of a virus, there are some paleo-friendly foods that can help you recover quickly, or at least ease the unpleasantness. The saltine crackers, ginger ale, and jello that we may have grown up with in times of sickness, don’t make the list, but here are some things that do.


1. Bone Broth!!!

Whether you have a common cold, a flu bug, or are working to heal a leaky gut, bone broth is a phenomenal food!! It’s nutrient dense, full of gelatin, easy to digest, and warm and steamy. It a good source of electrolytes and lost vitamins and minerals. It’s also a good source of protein (without having to chomp on a steak). Just what the doctor ordered.

Recipe: Homemade broth


2. Chicken or Turkey Soup (with homemade bone broth)

Expand upon your bone broth by adding lots of veggies and meat to boost the sustenance and nutrient load. If you are dealing with a cold virus the extra veggies and meat will be beneficial at any time. If it’s a stomach bug, stick with the broth until your stomach feels ready for more.

Recipe: Turkey soup (can substitute chicken)


3. Homemade ginger tea
  • Slice ~2 inches of fresh ginger (peeled)
  • Add ginger to 2 cups of filtered water in a small saucepan
  • Bring to just a boil, reduce heat and simmer for ~20 minutes
  • Strain the liquid with a fine mesh sieve over your favorite mug
  • Add 1 – 2 tsp raw honey
  • Add juice from 1/2 of a fresh lemon
  • Stir and enjoy!
This is a potent, but delicious tea. Ginger can act as a decongestant and an antihistamine. It can also help to reduce nausea. However, this tea is NOT recommended in conjunction with an irritated throat!!


4. Herbal tea with local raw honey and fresh squeezed lemon

We all know liquids are very important in times of sickness. And warm liquids can have a calming and decongesting effect on the body. Honey is not highly recommended on an everyday “paleo” plan because we are aiming for low to no sugar, however, in times of sickness, a touch of local raw honey can have medicinal properties. “Local” means that the honey contains pollen from the area in which you live. “Raw” means that the honey hasn’t been pasteurized or processed and thus is full of beneficial enzymes, nutrients and antioxidants. It’s anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral properties can help with digestion, immune support, calming sore throats and easing the side effects of the common cold. Just a spoonful a day while you are under the weather is a good guideline. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and increase your vitamin C!


5. Homemade gelatin squares

Making your own “jello” is good snack anytime, and the benefits of gelatin are nothing shy of awesome. Improving digestion and immune function, having anti-inflammatory properties and being a good source of protein are all helpful in times of sickness. Starting out with a good source of gelatin is important and from what I understand THIS brand is one of the few grass-fed sources (gelatin comes from the collagen of an animal). Using small amounts of 100% fruit juice or herbal tea with a dollop of local raw honey (my preference), you can flavor the gelatin without the loads of sugar and artificial coloring you get with typical “jello.” Check out Diane Sanfilippo’s recipe in Practical Paleo.


6. Fast

Some of you accustomed primal eaters practice intermittent fasting even on healthy days, and you know your body can adjust to short periods of no food once you are fat-adapted. When you have an irritated tummy, why add insult to injury? Give your body a break. Sip small amounts of liquid, rest, and wait until you feel ready to slowly introduce food back in.


7. Sliced apples with a dash of ginger and cinnamon

A simple snack idea can be hard to come by when your stomach is unsettled. To replace saltine crackers, try sliced apples with a sprinkle of ginger and cinnamon. Both ginger and cinnamon can be calming to an upset tummy.


8. Baked sweet potato with pastured (grass-fed) butter

If a stomach bug has been your ailment, you may want to hold off on food for some time, but once you are “hungry” and looking for some sustenance, mild foods can be your friend. Try a baked sweet potato with a little grass-fed butter (if you tolerate it). Avoid the skin and start with a few bites to see how you respond.


9. Poached or soft scrambled eggs

Adding in a source of protein can help get you back on your feet when your system is ready. Poached or scrambled eggs are mild, and full of nutrition to reenergize your body.


10. Rest!!

This tip may seem obvious, but how many of us actually allow ourselves to rest enough these days? We tend to “fight” through, going about our normal routine, with “no time to spare.” Let go of that mindset! Chances are you will recover faster if you take a brief sabbatical from life and let your body REST!!


What are your primal strategies during times of sickness?

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