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Cross the Bridge to a Healthier Lifestyle.

Ask Sunny

Natural Ways to Keep Family Healthy

Dear Sunny,

What are some natural ways to keep my family healthy this winter?

— Sally in Pittsburgh

Dear Sally,

Keeping your immune system functioning at its peak during the winter months can certainly be a challenge. One way to get a heads up this year is to increase your intake of the fabulous roots, tubers and rhizomes readily available right now.

These vegetables grow underground and are the storage tank of all the minerals the plant needs to survive.

Carrots and sweet potatoes are very high in beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in the liver. This nutrient is one of the most important for eye health. It protects against night blindness and macular degeneration. Vitamin A is also an activator for the thymus gland, which stimulates the immune system. This miracle nutrient can help with lung function and help keeps cholesterol from binding and attaching to artery walls. It helps build strong bones and teeth and its antioxidant properties help to protect against breast, lung and colon cancer. Six ounces of carrot juice (about two carrots) supplies about 28 mgs of beta-carotene.

Onions and garlic have antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties. When using onions be sure to use the outermost layers and even the skinsfor this is where there is a high concentration of flavonoids. Flavonoids are the chemicals responsible for the onion’s antibacterial effects. Allicin is another important chemical found in this family giving garlic its health benefits. This is a powerful compound acting as an antimicrobial, particularly against e-coli and as an antifungal against candida. It also helps to rid the body of parasitic invasion.

Ginger is a rhizome that has been used for centuries to treat nausea due to motion sickness, morning sickness or illness such as the flu. Also the compound gingerol has anti-inflammatory benefits. Therefore many people find it beneficial for osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Beets are one of the best detoxifiers around. They contain betalins, which support the body’s antioxidants to fight free radicals and help the body detoxify. A body free of chemical and environmental toxins has a much better chance of fighting off disease.

It’s easy to see why we should all partake in these vitamin and mineral-rich winter defenders.

Due to the ability to store these beauties for long periods of time our ancestors were able to keep themselves going strong until the bounty of the spring and summer harvest returned.

Make your day a sunny day,