Let me set the scene. It’s a cold and dark winter’s night so you light some candles, throw on a roaring fire, switch on Love Actually while the wind and the rain howl outside. But there’s a problem. You’re too covered in snot and choking in flem to cuddle up to your nearest and dearest not to mind getting down to business to try for your bundle of joy. Don’t ruin your chances of having a cosy winter by being sick and follow these 3 tips.
1. Fermented Foods
80% of your immune system is in your gut. A happy, healthy gut leads to a better-performing immune system and one of the best ways to get this is by eating Fermented foods. Fermented food such as kefir, sauerkraut, sourdough bread, kimchi, miso and kombucha are highly nutritious, full of healthy bacteria and make the nutrients from the food that was fermented more bioavailable.
For example, Sauerkraut is simply cabbage that has water and salt added to it and is left to ferment for a few weeks. The Vitamin C in sauerkraut in up to 20 times the amount of Vitamin C in unfermented cabbage! Kefir is a really easy fermented food that you can prepare at home so feel free to message us here and we can get you started! People are becoming more and more aware of the benefits that fermented food have on the body and they are now widely available in supermarkets and health shops.
2. Leafy Green and Cruciferous Vegetables
There are many reasons we recommend these. Firstly they are high in Folate which is the natural form of folic acid. Folate is widely known for its role in preventing birth defects but is also plays a crucial role in the adequate functioning of the digestive system, cardiovascular system and in gene expression. Greens are also high in antioxidants, vitamin C, vitamin A and Indole-3carbinol all which play a big role in ridding the body of excess toxins and subsequently improving immune function.
The high fibre content helps provide substrates for gut microbes (which will be plentiful if you eat the above fermented foods!) therefore improving immune and bowel function. Brussel Sprouts are definitely one of the best examples of leafy cruciferous greens and are so plentiful around now so get ‘em into ya! Other great vegetables are broccoli, cauliflower, rocket, spinach, cabbage, bok choy, watercress and collard greens.
3. Anti-inflammatory foods
Eat foods that fight inflammation such as oily fish (salmon, mackerel and sardines), nuts (almonds and walnuts), green leafy vegetables (see above), extra-virgin olive oil (use in salads or sauteing as cooking at high temperatures will destroy the beneficial properties, also make sure to store olive oil in a dark bottle in the fridge) and berries (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries etc). Inflammation contributes and causes almost every disease in the body including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, depression, influenza and autoimmune disease. Factors that can contribute to inflammation are processed foods, fast food, sugar, alcohol and tobacco. Steering clear of these and increasing the anti-inflammatory foods will help ensure you have a sick-free Christmas.
Living so north of the equator means we get little sunshine especially in the winter months. I take Vitamin D3 all year round and highly recommend it to clients in around this time of year. Low Vitamin D levels have been linked to infertility, impaired hormonal function, impaired immunity, insulin resistance, gestational diabetes, increase in c-sections, low weight, depression, bone fractures, autoimmune diseases and much more. Vitamins D plays a huge role in supporting the immune system and fighting off pathogens and also has great implications for fertility which we will get into in future posts.
Supplementing Vitamin D is usually necessary unless you have plenty of sunshine as it is hard to get from food sources with small amounts available in oily fish, eggs and liver. When buying supplements always go to a health shop for the best brands. Cheaper brands like store brand vitamins do not have versions of the vitamins that can be used adequately by the body and can also be full of sweeteners, fillers and binders. Remember you pay for what you get and spending less money on something that doesn’t work is a big waste of your money.
- Eat more fermented foods (or consider supplementing with probiotics)
- Increase your intake of green cruciferous vegetables daily (half of your dinner plate and 2 cups with other meals).
- Add more anti-inflammatory foods to your diet like oily fish, berries, green veg, extra-virgin olive oil and nuts (taking a fish oil supplement will hugely increase your ability to fight disease also).
- TaKe Vitamin D3