5 Basic Health Staples You Should Always Have on Hand

There are certain items that I stock up on and recommend you keep in your kitchen throughout the winter to strengthen your immune system, fight germs and improve overall wellness. Did you know 70% of our immune system lives in the gut? This is why it’s so important to pay attention to what you’re feeding body. Check out my list below of 5 Health Food Essentials to Have in your Kitchen!

1. Citrus Fruits

Like many of us, I enjoy eating fruits all summer long, but don’t stop once the cold weather hits! Citrus fruits are great for adding to teas, smoothies/juices, adding to facial/sinus steams, and can help getting rid of excess mucus.

My must-haves are lemon, lime (or key lime), orange, and grapefruit. We always hear about how oranges are a great source of vitamin C, but did you know kiwis have 3x more vitamin C than oranges? They’re also an excellent source of fiber and add a sweet taste to smoothies.

💡Tip: if you can, buy organic fruits at the store or local farmers market because they are grown without chemical fertilizers and other synthetic pesticides. It’s also best to wash your produce before eating it. I always wash fruits or veggies that I eat with the skin on, because rinsing with water alone doesn’t get rid of pesticides, possible bugs, and other bacteria that may live on it.

2. Herbal Teas

A little confession: I’m obsessed with teas 💁🏾‍♀️ I love tea because it’s affordable and easy to prepare, and can be consumed during any time of the day, hot or iced! It’s truly versatile.

Some of my favorites are:

☕️ lemon/thyme/ginger and honey for sore throat and anti-inflammatory benefits

☕️ peppermint for upset stomach/gas/headaches

☕️ chamomile and lavender for muscle relaxation/improved sleep

☕️ green tea for antioxidants/oral health

☕️ burdock root tea to boost iron levels and anemia

☕️ dandelion leaf for liver detox support/menstrual cramps relief

☕️ lemon balm for stress and anxiety

⭐️ A bonus for the ladies: you can drink red raspberry leaf tea, ginger tea, chamomile, or dandelion root tea to help with your period symptoms—they’re said to be effective for relieving cramps, balancing hormones and reducing PMS symptoms.

Raspberry and dandelion work really well for me for easing cramps, and chamomile lavender is great for muscle relaxation and insomnia.

The benefits of tea are endless. If you’re just now getting into them, start slow and figure out what you like, if you’re allergic to any herbs, and what your body reacts well to. A cup of warm tea does the body so gooood. To see how I use tea to reduce period pain and PMS follow me @whatwouldjenneat on Instagram.

💡Tip: keep a big bottle of raw, organic honey in your pantry to use as a natural sweetener. Honey has great medicinal properties. Don’t use white or any other refined sugar in your tea, as it reduces the benefits you get from the herbs. To support small businesses, try purchasing your honey from a local farmers market if you can.

3. Essential Oils

After taking an Essential Oils 101 seminar this summer, I’ve come to appreciate them for their many natural healing properties. Honestly, I feel like there’s an essential oil for almost everything.. you’d be surprised!

Everyone loves a nice scented candle, but I prefer diffusing essential oils because conventional candles are made with toxic chemical additives, artificial fragrances, and gasoline by-products. When you burn these candles, their toxic fumes go right into the air in your home. Look it up—you can find tons of YouTube videos on this topic too.

With good quality oils and a cute diffuser, you can create a calming, spa-like atmosphere in any room of your home.

“I prefer all-natural essential oils because conventional candles are made with toxic chemical additives, artificial fragrances, and gasoline by-products.”

Now, here are my top essential oil picks: Eucalyptus oil is great for chest congestion (if you want to take it a step further, you can find a eucalyptus plant at your local flower market or nearest Trader Joe’s and hang it on your shower head for a steamy, invigorating sinus cleanse).

Sweet orange oil can help improve your mood, lemon oil can give you an energy boost in the mornings, can be added to homemade household all purpose cleaners, and is great for de-greasing.

Lavender oil is known for it’s calming properties, peppermint is great for respiratory and digestive health, relieving headaches and can help promote focus and concentration. Try using it while working or studying!

Tea tree oil is good for cleaning, frankincense is very pricey and one of the most highly praised oils that helps promote focus—it’s excellent for respiratory health, and can be mixed with lots of other essential oils.

Oregano oil is very potent but great for immune health, can be used in cooking (only if indicated on the bottle), and is a powerful antioxidant. Ylang ylang is versatile and used in many popular colognes, and lemongrass oil is an antibacterial and promotes good air quality.

You can find oil diffusers at Target, Kohl’s or an online herbal store (remember: glass, ceramic or bamboo diffusers are better quality than plastic ones).

If you’re just looking to start with the basic essential oils, eucalyptus, peppermint, lemon, and lavender are the basics!

💡Fun fact: certain essential oil brands are said to be consumed by adding a drop or two into stovetop meals or in drinks. However, you should not do this with regular brands sold in big box stores, like Walmart, because they’re not pure enough to consume (cheaper essential oils contain chemicals, additives, and aren’t third-party tested for quality). There’s a bit of research you can find on this too. Always read the bottle before use!

4. Herbs & Spices

Spices shouldn’t be reserved for cooking alone. Keeping savory ingredients like turmeric, black pepper, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, ginger, star anise, clove, thyme, rosemary, mint, basil, and fennel seed on hand could help support your immune system in the winter and all year long.

Turmeric and black pepper together boost curcumin which can help reduce chronic inflammation in the body, fennel and ginger powder are great for digestion (a healthy gut is important for the immune system), and cayenne pepper helps with clearing sinuses and can be added to juices and sauces.

5. Root Vegetables

Not only are they in season, they also have great health benefits and help keep warm energy circulating in your body. Ginger is versatile and great to chop up and use in teas or when making soups, stews, and sauces. It also aids in digestion (again, immune health starts with your gut 🙃).

A recent favorite of mine is thyme which has great antibacterial benefits and is very beneficial when used in tea. Snacking on raw carrots can help increase your energy throughout the day, and garlic packed with antioxidants and basically tastes yummy on pretty much everything.

*Disclaimer: I am not a licensed medical professional or health practitioner. Please exercise caution and consult your doctor before trying items listed here. Everything isn’t suitable for everybody. Remember that you may have sensitivities to certain foods, oils, teas, herbs, etc. that you have not consumed before. Consult your doctor before taking or trying anything new.

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