Top 5 Natural Anti-Microbial Foods
As cold and flu season rolls in, let your food be your medicine. Compounds found in some everyday foods act as anti-microbials, boosting your immune system and giving you extra protection against pesky germs. Combined with proper sleep, a healthy diet and a regular exercise routine you’re set to survive the season. The best part is you can simply incorporate these ingredients into a main meal or as a side, no hassle required.
Garlic, along with its cousin onion, was used as an anti-microbial throughout history. Allicin and other compounds in it were recently shown to reduce the risk of lung cancer and fight bacteria that cause dental caries too. Cheap, flavorful, and easy to obtain, this powerful food is best raw. Try:
- Tomato Salsa with Garlic and Peppers (with the added anti-bacterial power of onions and jalapenos!)
- Lemon Garlic Salad Dressing
- Spicy Pickled Garlic
The ginger on the side of your sushi plate isn’t just for decoration. A small piece in between pieces can be enough to fight bacteria lurking in your raw fish. Various compounds (like gingerol and shogaol) packed in this root hold the power to fight respiratory viruses, various fungi, streptococcus and other bacteria in the body. A recent review also suggests anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory benefits. Try:
Spicy Foods and Herbs
A list of herbs and spices with antibacterial properties includes thyme, sage, rosemary, basil, tarragon, and Chile peppers, among others. Herbs offer a wide array of anti-bacterial compounds, while Chile peppers have been shown to inhibit against Streptococcus and other bacteria. Other spicy foods, like horseradish and wasabi, are considered anti-bacterial too. Sprinkle over your plate, enjoy as a side, or try:
Keep your natural bacterial gut flora balanced with probiotics, which reintroduce healthy bacteria into your gut. They are crucial for preventing a repeat infection, especially when your microflora is weakened due to prescribed antibiotics. Yogurt and kefir are two common options, but other fermented foods are packed with probiotics too! Try pickles, saukreat, and kim chi in dishes like Kraut and Apple Slaw, one of several delicious way to use lacto-fermented foods.
Mouth-watering flavor with antimicrobial properties makes honey a truly sweet deal. An enzyme it contains releases hydrogen peroxide, making it ideal for cuts, scrapes and burns. Combined with garlic, it creates a natural antimicrobial drug that can fight bacterial infections. On a similar note, bee pollen is also ideal for managing seasonal allergies. Try a teaspoon in your tea, spread on whole-wheat toast, or on veggies like Simple Honey Glazed Baby Carrots.
Do you have any recipes for natural anti-microbial remedies? What works best for you during the cold months?
 Jin ZY, Wu M, Han RQ, et al. Raw garlic consumption as a protective factor for lung cancer, a population-based case-control study in a Chinese population. Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2013;6(7):711-8.
 Fani MM, Kohanteb J, Dayaghi M. Inhibitory activity of garlic (Allium sativum) extract on multidrug-resistant Streptococcus mutans. J Indian Soc Pedod Prev Dent. 2007;25(4):164-8.
 Giriraju A, Yunus GY. Assessment of antimicrobial potential of 10% ginger extract against Streptococcus mutans, Candida albicans, and Enterococcus faecalis: an in vitro study. Indian J Dent Res. 2013;24(4):397-400.
 Mashhadi NS, Ghiasvand R, Askari G, Hariri M, Darvishi L, Mofid MR. Anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory effects of ginger in health and physical activity: review of current evidence. Int J Prev Med. 2013;4(Suppl 1):S36-42.
 Cichewicz RH, Thorpe PA. The antimicrobial properties of chile peppers (Capsicum species) and their uses in Mayan medicine. J Ethnopharmacol. 1996;52(2):61-70.
The side effects of allergy medications keep some people from using them. Natural remedies can be a great alternative, but some are more effective than others.