Our Winter 2020/21 issue was packed with sage nutritional advice – and we loved this piece on strengthening our immunity through nutrition, by Meaghan Esser. Scroll on to learn more!
Magic tricks to superhero their immune system
By Karen Ward
As a busy mum of two, I know that as we approach winter, prevention is key when it comes to health. So whether you have baby, young children, or teenagers, it’s never too late to give your kids’ immune system a boost. For me healthy food has to be quick or at least easy to prepare, as well as packing a punch in the nutrient-density stakes. But even slow-cooking can be time-friendly.
A reasonably priced slow cooker will be your new best friend. Pop in an organic chicken, carrot, stick of celery, onion and a few cloves of garlic, top up with water and leave it to do its thing! Even if you have to pop out on the school run, you’ll arrive home to the best chicken you have ever tasted and copious amounts of immune-supporting chicken stock for soups, stews and sauces for the week ahead. Chicken stock can inhibit infection caused by cold and flu viruses; great news, as a little goes a long way.
If you want something quick and handy for snacks, take a free hour in the week to spend a bit of time filling and freeze individual zip-lock bags with a mix of berries, ripe bananas and some leafy greens, ready for blending into smoothies as needed in the week ahead.
Feeding their healthy gut bacteria is an important part of winter immunity too but there are lots of simple ways to bring it into foods you’re already eating. Increase your little ones’ intake of Prebiotic rich foods by using oats in pancakes instead of flour and adding leafy vegetables like kale to smoothies. Leeks, garlic and onions all contain the antioxidant quercetin which is both antibiotic and anti-viral and thankfully, not destroyed by cooking. Making a leek and potato soup, or throwing a red onion and garlic into their pasta sauce and blending works a treat and ensures their healthy gut bacteria can survive.
Read the rest of Karen’s Advice in the winter issue of Positive Life. PICK UP A COPY IN ONE OF OUR STOCKISTS ALL OVER IRELAND. OR SUBSCRIBE HERE.
Immunity From Within
Photo credit: Sammy Murphy
Grow your inner garden.
By Deirdre McCafferty, recipe by Tony Keogh
A tasty way to boost your immunity this autumn and winter is with some warming stews, bakes and soups and by adding some wonderful tummy friendly fermented foods to your diet. Currently, we’re big fans of the vegan brie and cashew blue cheeses created for Cornucopia by Tony Keogh. Healthy fermented foods help populate our digestive tracts with the bacteria that help protect us from the inside and help you grow your inner garden.
Changing seasons, shorter days and colder, wetter weather can all add to the challenge our immune systems face so our thoughts for recipes now naturally turn to health boosting meals. Here we have a great recipe for a vegan, Irish style stew, with a twist – lots of spices! It’s chock-full of other immune boosting ingredients too; seaweed with its iodine, kale with its antioxidants and oats with calming, supportive, nerve boosting qualities.
GRAB THE RECIPE IN THE AUTUMN ISSUE OF POSITIVE LIFE. PICK UP A FREE COPY IN ONE OF OUR STOCKISTS, OR SUBSCRIBE FOR €15 (4 ISSUES) AND BE ONE OF THE FIRST TO GET A COPY EACH SEASON.
Winter is upon us again and it can mean different things to many people. To some it symbolises Christmas, family occasions and memories, to others it brings the images of snow and ice, and to many it means the usual winter coughs, colds and generally feeling more tired.
Embracing winter as part of the natural rhythm of our lives gives us an opportunity to change our habits a little, to become in tune with our bodies, and to support our immune system.
Feed your immune system
· Increase warming soups and stews. These are a great way to get lots of nutrients into our diet, boosting your body’s immunity and warming you from the inside.
· Be sure to include lots of sweet potatoes, carrots and other root vegetables in your diet. They are full of antioxidants and contain carotenoids that have immune-boosting effects. They also often contain polysaccharides that have an immune-stimulating effect on the gut.
· Eat your greens! Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts and cabbage are high in vitamin C and other nutrients that boost your immunity. They also contain cancer-preventing isothiocyanates.
· Mushrooms such as shitake and reishi have many immune-boosting properties. They are a great addition to stir-fries and curries and also make a great immune-boosting broth.
· Eat good quality wholegrain carbohydrates to give you energy throughout the day so your body doesn’t have to run on empty and get run down.
· Avoid junk food and lots of processed sugars that do little for your nutrition levels and can also put pressure on your immune system.
· Don’t mind the smelly breath, garlic is too tasty and too good for you to avoid. Garlic is a decongestant and contains allicin – a compound proven to have antibacterial and antimicrobial properties.
· Make sure you get lots of immune-boosting vitamin C that is found in citrus fruits, berries, red peppers and leafy green vegetables. Don’t forget zinc also, which is found in nuts, seeds, seaweeds, wheatgerm and seafood.
Boost your immune system with Herbs
· Echinacea (Echinacea spp.): Echinacea has received lots of press over the last few years and rightly so. It is effective against bacteria and viruses. It is considered to be immunostimulating; stimulating the body’s infection-fighting immune cells and increasing the production of other immune-fighting compounds such as interferon. Its action is at its highest during the first two hours after taking it. So it is best used at low doses in two-hour intervals at the first sign of infection and throughout an infection.
· Elderberry (Sambucus nigra): The beautiful native Irish elder tree is a medicine chest in itself. In herbal medicine, the leaves, berries and flowers are used for many conditions. The berries and flowers have traditionally been used to treat the common cold. They help decongest, aid in reducing a fever and have an antimicrobial action. Recent studies have also shown elderberries to have an inhibiting effect on the swine flu.
· Thyme (Thymus vulgaris): With such a lovely flavour, thyme is great in roasts, soups and stews, and it also has many amazing medicinal qualities. Thyme is high in antioxidants and has expectorant, antibacterial, antifungal and antimicrobial actions. Use it regularly in your cooking and it can be taken as a tea for an acute infection.
· Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus): Used for more than 2,000 years in traditional Chinese medicine to increase vitality and resistance to disease, recent studies have shown that astragalus helps strengthen the immune system in many ways. It has also shown activity as an adaptogen; helping to increase resistance to stress, trauma and fatigue.
· If you do get a cold, have a relaxing bath and add a couple of drops of thyme, eucalyptus, tea tree and lemon essential oils to help decongest, bring down your temperature and ease body aches and pains.
Don’t forget your Mind & Body
Exercise regularly. Science has proven that regular exercise – at least 30 minutes most days of the week – increases immune function. It also helps release stress.
If you do start to feel unwell, listen to your body and give it some essential immune-enhancing rest. Get an early night or relax and finish that book that you have been trying to read for ages.
The mind plays a powerful part in our health. Stress and anxiety have many effects on our bodies including our hormones and immunity. Finding ways to help deal with your stress and anxiety such as stress release and relaxation techniques, yoga, meditation, conscious breathing or talking to someone, play a vital part in staying well. Studies have also shown that happiness, laughter, and optimism are qualities that people who live longer, healthier lives tend to have.
Áine works for the College of Naturopathic Medicine and also has private practices in Dublin 2 and Dublin 14. Contact her for a consultation on 086 378 8857 or email@example.com