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When we’re sick, we’re willing to try pretty much anything to feel better, including switching up our diet to include more immune-boosting and stomach-soothing foods. So we checked in with Maria Marlowe, integrative nutrition health coach and author of The Real Food Grocery Guide, to learn what she eats, whether she has a cold or a pesky case of period cramps.

RELATED: 5 Delicious Immune-Boosting Soup Recipes for Winter

bowl of split pea soup next to an onion and carrot and ginger
Maria Marlowe

For the Flu

“Since the flu is a virus, I add in more foods that exhibit anti-viral properties, and also focus on warming foods and liquids. I love soups that not only provide hydration and feel comforting going down, but if they’re made with the right ingredients, they can help us beat the flu faster. One of my go-tos is my Never-Get-Sick Split Pea Soup. Some of the key ingredients are turmeric (which exhibits anti-viral activity against a wide range of viruses, including influenza, and is a powerful anti-inflammatory), ginger (another anti-inflammatory and an immune-booster) and split peas (which contain all nine essential amino acids, making them an excellent source of protein, which our bodies need to build and repair cells).”

loaf of chocolate banana bread next to a bar of chocolate
Maria Marlowe

For Period Cramps

“I used to get terrible period cramps, but since adopting a healthier lifestyle, I’ve had them once or twice in a decade. Cramps are not a necessary part of getting your period, and can actually be a sign of a magnesium deficiency. In general, the best sources of magnesium are legumes, nuts and seeds. A few recipes I’d recommend are the Chocolate Almond Avocado Smoothie, Double Chocolate No Bake Brownies, Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Bread or a high-quality piece of dark chocolate with a handful of raw almonds or nuts. If you get cramps regularly, add more dark leafy greens, beans and legumes to your diet on the regular. Try Superfood Chili, Avocado Kale Salad with Chickpea Croutons or Crispy Curry Sweet Potato Skins with Kale and Chickpeas.”

RELATED: 15 Things to Do When You Have the Worst Cramps Ever

white mug with lemon and ginger tea

For a Sore Throat

“Whenever I hear someone has a sore throat, my first inclination is to make them a cup of ginger, lemon and honey tea. Honey serves two purposes: It coats the throat, making it less scratchy and dry, and also exhibits antiviral properties. I recommend using a raw honey, which looks more white and opaque and is minimally processed and will be more potent. Other hot liquids like hot soups, bone broth and teas can help.”

bowl of green soup with garnish
Maria Marlowe

For Nasal Congestion or a Cold

“When you’re congested, you want to up your liquids like water, herbal teas and soups, and turn to foods that can help loosen phlegm and mucus so you can blow it out. Some foods that can help this are onion, ginger, thyme, horseradish, garlic, and hot peppers. If I feel something coming on, I will make endless pots of my Kick a Cold Tea, which has ginger and thyme (which stimulates the immune system), or bowls of my Kale Lemon Detox Soup.”

RELATED: 12 Things to Do When You Have the Worst Cold Ever

plate with salmon cauliflower rice and lemon
Maria Marlowe

For a Headache

“Headaches can be caused by a variety of things, but sometimes, especially if they’re chronic, they can be triggered by nutritional deficiencies. A lack of magnesium or riboflavin, for example, has been associated with headaches and migraines. A lack of omega-3 fatty acids may make headaches and migraines more painful. Eat foods that contain magnesium (like dark leafy greens, beans, nuts and seeds), riboflavin (like broccoli, turnip greens, eggs and almonds) and omega-3s (like hemp seeds, walnuts, wild salmon, sardines and anchovies). A great meal option is my Lemon Pepper Salmon with Cauliflower Rice.”

woman filling a glass of water under a faucet

For an Upset Stomach

“For an upset stomach, I add ¼ to ½ teaspoon of natural, aluminum-free baking soda to a tall 8-ounce glass of water and drink that to neutralize the acid. It typically brings relief pretty quickly. (This is helpful if you suffer from acid reflux or indigestion, too.) Note that this remedy is for adults, not children, and you shouldn’t try it if you are overly full. It’s meant to provide short-term relief from occasional upset stomach, and isn’t a long-term treatment for indigestion or other gastrointestinal conditions.”

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