Musings by Leah Jorgensen

Food As Medicine

I get frequent stomach aches – part of living with celiac disease.  I tend to crave comfort food to settle my stomach and to provide essential nutrients that aid in healing and soothing the digestive tract.

One of my stand-by recipes is my Ginger-Garlic Chicken Soup for the digestive disordered soul.  This is actually really great for any kind of stomach ache or virus – add or eliminate vegetables, based on what you are feeling able to eat.  If you’re really sick, and even vomiting, I would suggest just making the broth.

So, why is this food medicine? 

According to Bastyr Center for Natural Health, “ginger (Zingiber officinale) is popular as a culinary spice and as a medicinal herb. It is used all over the world to treat indigestion, gas and bloating, nausea, diarrhea, and irritable bowel syndrome.  A well-known remedy for nausea during pregnancy and motion sickness, ginger has also has anti-inflammatory effects that make it a good choice for treating arthritis.”

“Since low gastric motility has been associated with the digestive symptoms for which ginger is frequently used, if ginger improves the movement of food through the upper digestive tract in people with digestive problems, this could help to explain how it exerts its benefits,” said Dr. Rebecca Chollet, a naturopathic doctor who practices in New Hampshire and Vermont.

And what about the garlic?  Garlic aids digestion and helps keep the stomach lining healthy.  It has antibacterial, anti-fungal, and antiviral properties.

We already know that chicken soup is the classic feel better food.  It contains several ingredients that affect the body’s immune system, a team at the University of Nebraska Medical Center found.  Specifically, it has anti-inflammatory properties that could explain why it soothes sore throats and eases the misery of colds and flu, according to Dr. Stephen Rennard and colleagues.  Dr. Rennard’s research explains that chicken soup and many of its ingredients helped stop the movement of neutrophils — white blood cells that eat up bacteria and cellular debris and which are released in great numbers by viral infections like colds.

How about the kale?  New research is revealing that phytonutrients in crucifers, such as kale, work at a much deeper level. These compounds actually signal our genes to increase production of enzymes involved in detoxification, the cleansing process through which our bodies eliminate harmful compounds, and can significantly reduce the risk of cancer.  Okay,  not a digestive solution, but a big health benefit!  In fact, there are tons of health benefits from kale – learn more here.

Carrots, onions, olive oil – everything in this soup delivers wholesome goodness.  Always prepare with fresh ingredients.  Get to your farmer’s markets or a whole foods grocery store or market.  It’s so important to approach all food as medicine – preventative and healing.  This doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice flavor!  It’s quite the opposite.

Enjoy and be well!

Ginger-Garlic Chicken Soup
for the digestive disordered soul

Choose local and organic when you can!

1/2 box organic free range chicken broth (or vegetable, if you don’t eat meat)
8 cups of water
1 medium sweet yellow onion, chopped
4 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 bunch of celery (with leaves), chopped
1 small bunch of kale, chopped
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 TBSP ground ginger
1 TBSP fresh ginger root, minced
1 TBSP olive oil
1 small bunch of carrots (or 3-4 large carrots)
salt and pepper, to taste (I like to use sel gris)

Start the broth in a large soup pot, add the water, and heat on med-low.  And in all of the ingredients (I usually put the garlic, onion and carrots in first).  Simmer to low heat.  Then prepare your gluten-free fusilli noodles separately.  I like to boil my gluten-free noodles in water with a dash of salt and a small douse of olive oil.  After they boil, drain and rinse with warm water (you need to do this with gluten-free noodles to prevent starch build up). 

My favorite brands of gluten-free brown rice noodles are Tinkyada and Goldbaum’s.

Add the pasta to a bowl and ladle in your soup.  Enjoy and feel better soon!



  Kathy wrote @

I’m a big believer in chicken soup too. We
go back to it any time we get any accidental
gluten. I like Tinkyada pasta the best too.

  John La Puma MD wrote @

You’re doing a good job taking care of yourself, with CD.
We’ve posted about 20 GF easy recipes on video, nutrition data, tips, more: enjoy.
John La Puma MD

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