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  • Writer's pictureTim

Give Your Gut A Gift: How food can help you fight off a virus

Updated: Sep 26, 2020

A healthy gut (a general term for our inter-connected systems involving the unique and delicate microbiome) is an essential component for maintaining a strong immune system. A strong immune system gives us a better chance to fight off infections or to shorten it's lifespan. A diet rich in varied pro- and pre-biotics is essential for a healthy gut. Here are some do's and don't's to build and care for a healthy gut.

Disclaimer time, y'all!: I'm not a science guy by trade, so any sciencey stuff here is not to be taken as seriously as Dr. Oz or Dr. Jordan. I do share information that aligns with verifiable data and is on the lesser end of the controversial scale, nor do I put too much weight into peer reviews as they all have a price. There are no cure-alls, sure-things, or one-shot-wonders in life, so please take every precaution that you're comfortable taking, and always consult the doctor with the best breath when in doubt. Doctor breath is the worst when you're asking for medical advice. If they haven't locked that down yet, how are you supposed to believe that they're an expert on the human body? LOCK IT DOWN, DOCS. For the love of....

One of the many confusing photos that populated a Google image search for "gut health; Labeled for reuse with modification." I'm not mad about it... I'm also not about to pay royalties on photos for blog entries that not even my mom is going to read, so I'll take what I can get.

We all like getting gifts, even our guts. Unfortunately they really only tend to let you know when you give them something they don't like, but if they had mouths they would thank you in kind words and kisses which would get very weird, very immediately. Well technically your mouth is the mouth of your gut, but don't think about that until I get to my point.

I don't work in biotech anymore, nor did I ever. So I felt a little helpless when this thing started going around. While I was 100% certain that Paul Stamets was going to figure it out before any lab would, purely by his ownl process of asking some mycilleum their thoughts on the matter while munching on their cousins, I'm sad to say this is the first time he's ever let me down.

So I've been hard at work thinking how to use my assets wiselyaka my dashing resting bitch face and my sparkling antisocial personality—and in a manner that is timely and tangible.

man pretending to be working hard on an unbelievably organized desk in an unrealistically beautiful home office while perfectly manicured and so handsome it hurts himself
Stock Photo Conveniently Left In The Sample Blog Post I'm Hijacking

one of my many sleepless nights working on the problem, nay, the solution

Fast Forward To The Spoiler Alert: It's Food

There are lots of ideas out there about natural antivirals. While many of them still need some research before I'll give my thumbs up (I'm not looking forward to losing my thumbs so I'm playing it on the skeptical side to stall a bit longer), but the gist is that the healthier our bodies are, the better chance we have of emerging on the other side that dreaded/beloved icy-cold drenched-mattress sweat that signals the end, perhaps even a few days earlier. Best case scenario we never knew that those soulless lil' mofo's ever tried. When we focus on foods that support our overall health—and our gut health in particular—we create unwelcoming environments in which the viruses would otherwise film their Duggar spinoff 19-Hundred Million Particles And Counting. Ew.

Since I'm not selling ad space here, let's keep it short.


Side-by-side images of a head of cabbage and Audrey 2 from Little Shop of Horrors. They look identical.
Cabbage was definitely the inspo for Audrey II of Little Shop Of Horrors. Even way back then they knew how powerful she was.

Cabbage is an ideal addition to your diet at this particular moment in time for a few reasons. I'm giving a bit more info on cabbage than the others because I think she's under-appreciated and needs a little market boost.

1. How it helps fight viral infections: Vitamin C! Vitamin C supports a healthy immune system, which in turn helps fight infections in the first place, or shorten the amount of time that it takes to get out of your system. Red cabbage has about 30% more, so work it into your rotation.

2. It's PACKED with nutrients:

3. Aids digestion which helps to keep your system clean and functioning.

4. Lowers inflammation which will free up your body to fight other unwanted agents.

5. Lowers bad cholesterol!

Star Anise

Star anise is the other that gets a special shou-out. Its delicious and I won't hear otherwise (I will, but I'm just trying to drive it home...), so you should be using it anyhow. Even people who don't like licorice can still get down with some anise, although the flavor is somewhat similar, some lazy tasters say. Shikimic acid is the cool guy in the room here, the active compound which is part of the process of photosynthesis as well as the main ingredient of Tamiflu. It also includes thymol, terpineol and anethole, and is rich in antioxidants and vitamin A and C. You can infuse water with the crushed seeds to increase sex drive, some say, or try a few new recipes like pho or masala chai. Some of the other powers it has include:

  • digestive aid

  • alleviates cramps

  • reduces nausea

  • helps treat digestive ailments after meals such as bloating, gas, and indigestion constipation


Garlic contains allicin and alliion which are great when eaten as an ingredient and even better if you chew it raw.


Herbs are a great defense that have been used for centuries. This impressive (and delicious) list comes from The Ontario Association of Naturopathic Doctors


Silver has been utilized as a medicine since ancient times to treat scores of ailments, including the bubonic plague. Colloidal silver is a suspension of pure metallic silver in water, that is used to dramatically reduce the activity of the HIV virus in AIDS patients, slow down the ravages of the hepatitis C virus and combat other viruses in general. It works by interfering with the enzymes that allow a virus to utilize oxygen thus, in essence, suffocating it so it cannot do damage in the body.


The common black elderberry (Sambucus nigra) has long been used to reduce the length and severity of flu symptoms and studies. Taking 60 ml a day for adults and 30 ml for children helps to facilitate a complete recovery, often in three days. Elderberry extract binds to the tiny spikes on a virus protein that are used to pierce and invade healthy cells and destroys them so that the virus is ineffective. Elderberry may also be effective against the herpes simplex virus and some HIV strains.


The herb Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea) is supportive of the immune system and has a direct anti-viral action against colds and viral bronchitis. Preparations that include both the roots and the flowering tops are the most effective at helping the body resist the viruses.


Garlic has been prized for its medicinal properties for thousands of years. The compounds allicin and alliion are responsible for this common plant’s reputation as a triple threat. Garlic is anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal and it is especially effective against viruses if chewed raw.


Green tea (Camellia sinensis) contains a group of flavonoids called catechins, which appear to inhibit viral infections by blocking the enzymes that allow it to reproduce. Green tea has been known to be effective in inhibiting HIV, herpes simples and the hepatitis B virus.


Liquorice contains a substance called glycyrrhizin that reduces the replication of viruses and halts their ability to penetrate replicate inside healthy cells. It has been noted to be effective in the treatment of many viral illnesses including HIV strains and viral hepatitis.


The leaves of Olive trees (Olea europea) contain a substances called elenoic acid and calcium elonate has been identified as a powerful inhibitor of a wide range of viruses in laboratory tests., including influenza, herpes, polio and coxsackie viruses. These substances block the production of enzymes that allow viruses to replicate.


Pau d’arco (Tabebuia impetiginosa), also known as lapacho or ipe roxo, is an Amazon tree with healing inner bark that can treat colds, influenza, herpes and viral stomatis. It contains quinoids that inhibit virus replication by damaging the DNA and RNA inside the viral protein that would insert itself in a healthy human cell and replicate.


St John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) is ore well-known for its ability to treat depression and neuralgia but it also has potent antiviral chemicals called hypercin and pseudohypericin that proactively fight off viruses that thrive by imitating existing cells through “cloaking”. These viruses that masquerade as human cells include Herpes, HIV and Hepatitis C.

For the most effective results it is highly recommended that at least two or three of these remedies in conjunction in order to vanquish viruses. As always, consult your naturopathic doctor for advise that is tailored specifically to your body. by Pinewood Natural Health Centre.


Oregano has carvacrol, which we've mostly only used as a food additive to make junk food last longer. Not the best use...


I hated sage until I had sage butter as an adult. Its active compounds safficinolide and sage one are known traditional treatments for viral infections.


Mushrooms (particularly button varieties) are full of selenium, B vitamins like riboflavin and niacin which are necessary for our immune systems to function optimally, as well as polysaccharides which give it a boost.


Watermelon is perfect because it's healthy and pretty tasty. It supports your immune system with its potassium, vitamin A, and vitamin C.


Spinach is a classic. With its folate, vitamin A, vitamin C, fiber, magnesium, and iron, it not only helps boost your immune system, but it helps with cell division and repair your DNA! Not that there's anything wrong with your DNA—you're perfect <3

Green Tea

Green tea belongs on the list because it is extremely accessible everywhere. Its antioxidants (polyphenols and flavonoids) not only help your immune system, but they are said to reduce the risk of heart disease by increasing good HDL cholesterol and decreasing LDL bad cholesterol ,triglycerides (not to be confused), and total cholesterol.

Here's quick list of others. Not that they're lesser in any way, but because limits are healthy and I need to do other things, like finish this website:

  • wheat germ

  • yogurt

  • sweet potatoes

  • basil

  • fennel

  • lemon balm

  • peppermint

  • ginger

  • rosemary

  • echinacea*

  • astragalus

  • dandelion

  • ginseng

  • onions

  • walnut

  • pomegranate

  • coconut

  • whey

  • flaxseed

  • seaweed

  • carrots and the family

  • healthy meats with zinc (oysters/seafood, poultry, beef, and lamb)

  • magnesium rich foods (spinach again!, pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate, avocados, brown rice)

I'll be back to update with links to some recipes here on the site! This should be enough to get you inspired, though.


* Chew some seeds from a developed flowerhead when you have a chance. The sensation is insane.


 Pinchido's anti-aesthetic food blog named after its accidental url!  

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