I have by now received at least 20 invitations to webinars about coronavirus-related topics. Doctors, herbalists, naturopaths, and then more doctors, they are all trying to add to the pool of knowledge and also make the time in ‘captivity’ a bit better. I’ll let you know which made an impact.

Meanwhile, if you want to get an idea about this type of pandemics, here is a talk by Dr. Michael Greger (the brain behind https://nutritionfacts.org and author of How Not to Die and How Not to Diet) which will make say Ha! at least five times, but likely more. Because of how timely the information is though the talk is more than a decade old. (Bonus: it has a transcript too!)

It beats watching the news obsessively and it makes for good conversation with quarantine fellows. The more knowledge, the higher the chance of keeping disease-free. Or?

Which takes me to explaining why I got a whole box of red onions, 15 pounds in total (buy locally please!). Well, they looked pretty for one, but that was not it. It was not panic-buying either.

You see, I grew up with my Dad being such a devotee to onion and garlic (eaten raw, of course) during the cold season that to this day I cannot go through winter without eating some (OK, lots.) I suspect what happened when I was little was similar to the imprinting process that baby birds go through. They break out of their shells and attach themselves to whatever they see first. Well, I saw onion and garlic, carefully minced by my Dad, shaped into small round ‘cakes’ which he would split into quarters and we each got one to eat with dinner; my sister and I, Mom and Dad.

Now you know why the box of red onions (I also have a lot of garlic in the house, at all times, and no, do not reference my Transylvanian roots, that’s not it.) Back to the deeper why: my Dad swore by their ability to keep germs at bay. As far as my memories go, I cannot recall too many bad cold or flu episodes, so I credit my consistent consumption of the two members of the Allium family. On that note, until the covid-19 times I used to cook with garlic; now I pretty much cook garlic. The family is managing beautifully.

Now for the science part: red onion contains quercetin, which stimulates the immune system to fight bacteria and viruses, and also decrease the risk of allergies. Worth noting, it has some bad-ass cancer-fighting abilities too. It also protects genetic material from carcinogens. Garlic is not far behind; plus they both can lower cholesterol levels too.

Wait, there’s more. They both contain prebiotics, which is food for the bacteria that comes with fermented foods (which you are eating plenty of these days, right?) so all in all everyone wins. The human hosts most of all.

Pause at ‘fermented foods.’ I have a jar of red cabbage doing its magic in a jar as we speak (in teenage language: Mom, there’s some strange noises coming out of that jar.) Sauerkraut was another staple while growing up. It came not in jars but as an entire barrel which we kept in the cellar next to the wine barrels that sported fascinating glass bubbling pipes, and under bunches of grapes hanging like laundry on thick ropes, which my Dad would carefully pick the best of every fall to preserve into mid-winter.

My microbiota could not be happier, which means it’d be crazy not to return to where I first learned about this circular process that starts with growing things, harvesting and making them into wonder foods via natural fermentation. So far, I’ve tried cabbage, cauliflower, cucumbers, green tomatoes and turnips, and red onions are next. Did you know you can ferment basil and lemons and watermelon? Here’s a site – recipes, books, instructional videos and all, to get lost in now that time is no longer pressing us into a mold like it used to three weeks ago.

Next on the list, sourdough. Try it, you’ll never go back to store-bought.

With all this probiotic festival going on in your gut, you’d have to add fiber – soluble and insoluble; some feeds your good bacteria and some ensures your digestion works like a Swiss watch. What else? Drink lots water and tea, perfect your coffee ritual now that you can, exercise, breathe like you are discovering fresh air for the first time, get some sunshine which helps your body make vitamin D (good support for the immune system,) and get yourself a comedy of two, because laughter is good medicine.

Last but never least, hang out with your pet – hike, walk, snuggle and be grateful for how lovely that anxiety-lowering mechanism works when you pet them.

There you have it. Until next time.