The first thing I did as a teacher was get sick. And while I could’ve, and almost did, easily get discouraged by it and the fact that children pass on sicknesses to teachers and each other almost religiously, I instead took it as a welcomed challenge to which I knew the answer would ensure growth and improvement on my part. (I also learned there are three kitchen appliances I choose not to live without: my citrus juicer, my regular juicer, and my bullet.)
So, I have since added a few powerhouses to my daily health-seeking regimen, including lemon water (fresh-squeezed lemon, water); raw cacao powder (hot water, sea salt, maple syrup); Detox Lemonade (lemon, water, maple syrup, cayenne,); ginger shots (ginger, cayenne, lemon); and an emergency concoction (garlic, turmeric, ginger, cayenne, honey, lemon).
Why, you ask? Here is a quick round-up of the benefits:
Contrary to popular belief, lemons are NOT acidic or acid-forming. In fact, when I feel myself getting heart-burn, which I used to get a lot more often, I drink a glass of lemon water and it goes away instantly. Lemons are also good for the skin, they help detoxify the body, they aid with digestion, they provide you with vitamin C and potassium for immune boosting, they help you maintain a healthy weight, and specifically help you fight viral infections.
2. Raw Cacao powder
When I wasn’t feeling well, one of the teachers in the school said she had to start taking zinc supplements to survive in the classroom, because apparently you’re not a real teacher unless you get sick constantly. Of course, knowing me I wasn’t going to run to GNC immediatelyy to get pills to pop, so I did some research. I realised I wasn’t so versed in what zinc does for the body or where to get it, so I put it out into the universe and lo and behold, I was given two incredible responses. The first recommendation came from a friend at my weekly farmer’s market and it was ginger. I was told to take a ginger shot, and it was the absolute best thing I could’ve done. I kid you not, the next morning I woke up and I was a new person. I saw the world in colour again. I could breathe through my nose! I could not believe it. Never in my life had I cleared head congestion that quickly. Never. (Zinc, by the way, helps build up your white blood cells, which as you many know, are the super ninja protectors that rush to the site of trauma or dis-ease to help us fight off any and every threat to our health.)
The next suggestion was hot chocolate. Now I realise I am a woman, but I have never been a fan of chocolate. It was always something that I would have on rare occasions when I felt for it. But my friend at another farmer’s market hooked me. She said she made hers every night with a little sea salt, some maple syrup, and warm water (not too hot to where it burns because the heat will kill all the nutrients). I was intrigued. Chocolate with salt? Chocolate with maple syrup? What? And then she listed the benefits. Now, I have it every single night.
Raw, unprocessed “chocolate” is the highest source of plant-based iron (non-heme) on the planet. It is also EXTREMELY high in zinc and manganese. It contains copper, B vitamins, magnesium, polyphenols, and plenty of antioxidant-rich flavonoids. It is an aphrodisiac, it is anti-inflammatory, it is detoxifying, it boosts metabolism, it balances hormones, it improves blood flow, it gives you energy, it helps your hair and skin… I mean really, I could go on (but I won’t).
Just remember these benefits are not found in processed chocolate bars because they simply go through too much processing and have too many added ingredients that inhibit their effects (dairy and sugar).
3. Maple syrup
I know in these days people are so afraid of sweet things that I can’t help but laugh at the madness. (So you’ll drink store-bought “juice” or diet soda and then tell me that honey is bad? Or you can’t eat dates because they’re too sweet? OK.) I am a strong believer that there is nothing wrong with natural sugars in their natural state, ESPECIALLY those that come from fruits, and I don’t think there is a person alive who can change my mind about that. *end rant*
Now, to put the controversy aside, lets talk about the facts. Although maple syrup* is high in sugar, it is also VERY high in manganese and zinc. It also contains iron, calcium, potassium, and copper, and it can serve as a good replacement for sugar as you would use way less and unlike sugar it contains those minerals. (It is also much slower to raise blood sugar levels than regular sugar.) Maple syrup, especially the darker ones, even contain more than 20 different antioxidants, which we all know are good for neutralising free radicals and protecting cells from oxidative damage.
*make sure you are getting pure maple syrup and not maple-flavoured syrup (like Aunt Jemima), which is really just high fructose corn syrup.
And last but certainly not least (because I’m not going to go into honey, ginger, turmeric or garlic since we should all know what they’re good for by now):
4. Cayenne pepper
Cayenne is one of those spices that a lot of people (including me) kind of just glazed over in the spice cabinet/section. I never found anyone who really uses it religiously like some use Adobo or thyme or garlic or seasoning salt. But man, I would like to take a second to say I apologise for the oversight. Cayenne, like ginger, turmeric, and garlic, is magic. It is anti-fungal, anti-cold and flu, anti-irritant, anti-allergen, anti-bacterial. You can use it for digestion problems, toothaches, headaches, weight loss, and topically for sores, joint pains, redness…It is great for your heart and really excellent at cutting mucus. It is good for cramps, blood circulation, detoxifying the liver, reducing acidity, and for diarrhoea. It is truly a powerhouse with a kick.
It contains vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin E, potassium, manganese, and flavonoids.
Now just imagine putting all of these things together? It’s like a love potion for your body and it will thank you, just like mine did. I missed only one day of work, meanwhile teachers who had been there longer than me, and those who just started, were out for almost the entire week. I also never got sick again, not even a sniffle all throughout the rest of the school year. Is it the new dietary additions? I certainly think so, of course, but who really knows? All I can say is that I look forward to continuing to build up my immunity.
But I definitely don’t plan to get sick like this again to do it.