By Amy Castle, B. Health Science (Naturopathy)
With Winter in full swing, it is important to ensure we are nourishing our bodies correctly in order to strengthen immunity and prevent illness. Factors such as the change in season, stress, poor diet, lack of sleep and a poorly functioning digestive system can all contribute to poor immunity and increased susceptibility to colds and flus.
Although it is ideal to consume a diet rich in fresh, immune enhancing wholefoods all year-round to ensure optimal health, Winter is a good time to load up on immune supportive nutrients and foods to see you through cold and flu season.
The food based immune nutrients that are vital for good immunity are:
Vitamin A- found in liver, butter, ghee, wild caught salmon, sardines and cheese
Betacarotene- found in apricots, carrots, sweet potato, kale, silverbeet, spinach, cos lettuce and pumpkin
Vitamin C- found in red capsicums, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, raw cabbage, parsley, blackcurrants, papaya, pineapple, kiwi fruit, citrus fruits, strawberries, gubinje, camu camu, acerola
Vitamin D- egg yolk, butter, ghee, wild Alaskan salmon, sprouted seeds exposed to sunlight, chlorella, mushrooms exposed to sunlight
Zinc- oysters, prawns, crab, liver, lamb & beef, egg yolk, sunflower & pumpkin seeds, cashews, chia seeds, teff, red capsicum and ginger
Other immune supportive foods to include on a regular basis are:
- Coconut oil
- Bone broth
- Tulsi (holy basil)
- Nigella (black cumin)
- Mushrooms (especially shitake)
- Fermented foods such as kombucha, sauerkraut, kefir
Our gut plays an important role in immunity, so if this is not functioning properly our immunity will be compromised. Alongside taking a daily probiotic to encourage the growth of good gut flora and boost immunity, eating foods rich in prebiotics helps to feed specific good gut bacteria, while colonic foods support general gut flora.
Try incorporating the following prebiotic-rich foods:
- Chicory or dandelion root (as a roasted beverage)
- Jerusalem artichokes
- Globe artichokes
Colonic Foods to include:
- Green tea
- Raw carrots
- Brown rice
- Raw cacao
- Coloured grains (red/black quinoa, red rice, black rice)
- Resistant starches: green bananas, potatoes, lentils, beans
Though diet is a large part of immunity, there are several immune supportive lifestyle activities that are important to incorporate as part of a balanced life. Regular exercise (aerobic, resistance and muscle strengthening), relaxation techniques such as meditation or mindfulness, practicing gratitude, taking time out in nature and laughter all contribute to maintaining a healthy immune system.
Recipes for Immunity
Warming Sweet Potato, Pumpkin & Carrot Soup
3 large carrots
1 sweet potato
2 large diced onions
4 cloves garlic
4cm piece of ginger
3 tsp turmeric
3 tsp curry powder
1 tbs ghee
1 tbs coconut oil
1 can organic coconut cream
1.5 cups pre cooked split red lentils, chickpeas or white beans (organic tinned, BPA free are ok to use)
1 tsp sea salt
750ml boiled water or 500mls bone broth/vegetable stock & 250mls water
Chop veggies into medium sized pieces.
Sauté onions until soft in ghee and coconut oil, add spices on low temperature to bring out the flavours.
Add water/stock, then add veggies and legumes.
Grate garlic and ginger and set aside.
Cook soup until the vegetables are soft.
Once softened add coconut cream, turn off the heat then add ginger and garlic.
Leave to cool, then using a blender or food processor blend until smooth
Serves approx. 6, freezes well
Chicken, Mushroom & Brown Rice Noodle Soup
600g de-boned chicken thighs
1 leek washed and sliced finely
1 brown onion, finely diced
1 large carrot, diced
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
1.5 cups chopped mixed mushrooms (can use Portobello, button, porcini, shitake)
1 cup green beans, finely chopped
½ bunch silverbeet, finely sliced
1 small sweet potato, diced
1 tbs chopped chives
1 tbs chopped parsley
1 tsp sea salt
500mls water/500mls chicken bone broth or vegetable stock
1 packet organic brown rice noodles (Nutritionists Choice brand)/Red Rice Pad Thai Noodles
Gently heat olive oil and brown chicken lightly on both sides, then remove and set aside.
Add 1 tbs more olive oil and add leeks and carrot, let them sweat until tender on low temperature (lid on).
Add stock and 2 cups boiled water, salt, chicken and remaining vegetables.
Simmer until the chicken and vegetables are cooked, then remove chicken and allow to cool slightly before shredding or chopping into small chunks and adding back into soup.
Add brown rice noodles and cook for another 8 minutes.
Add crushed garlic at the end of cooking (to maintain active constituents).
Serve with chopping chives and parsley, and season to taste.
If your immunity is suffering and you would like some extra support, contact Reception to enquire about how an appointment with a Naturopath can get you back on track.