Nutrition: Get Set for Autumn
Guest post by Jayne Hopper, Reach for Nutrition, Brighton
Now that Autumn is here, your tan is fading, the flip flops and sun tan lotion have been put away, and jumpers are firmly in place. You can now look forward to longer nights with an excuse (if you need one) to cuddle up to your loved one with a warm drink and fluffy socks on. The changing of seasons can, unfortunately, bring with it sniffs and colds, therefore keeping a healthy immune system and eating plenty of vegetables and fruit will stave off those troublesome germs.
Eat the rainbow
Eating a rainbow colour of fruits and vegetables will provide plenty of antioxidants to fight off free radicals in the body. Free radicals are responsible for the more serious diseases that we encounter over our lives such as heart disease and cancer, therefore eating 7 portions a day (the recommended daily portion) will help prevent disease in the body. This may seem difficult to ingest all of this wonderful goodness but it is possible with juicing and smoothies. Add a homemade juice or smoothie a day trying recipes such as carrot, apple and ginger or beetroot, kale and mango.
What’s in season?
Adding seasonal fruit and vegetables to your daily ‘7 a day’ ensure you get fresh, nutrient rich produce which tastes so much better. They are packed full of vitamins, phytochemicals and minerals which are crucial for energy and vitality. Fibre rich, they help to keep the gut in good working order and encourage a regular bowel movement which will remove toxins. If the toxins are not removed (constipation), they will recirculate around the body, which may cause problems producing inflammatory conditions. The vegetables that are in season from September to November are beetroot, carrot, celeriac, fennel, field mushrooms, kale, leaks, lettuce, marrow, potatoes, pumpkin, rocket, sorrel, squashes, sweetcorn, tomatoes and watercress.
Autumnal seasonal fruit are apples, blackberries, damsons, elderberries, pears, plums, quince and sloes. So dust off your blender and start blending!
To avoid those pesky colds and coughs and build your immunity before the winter arrives you must look after your gut and your gut flora. Your gut has billions of friendly bacteria which are responsible for 70% of your immune system.
Other proven immunity boosters are:
If your gut flora is not populated with lots of lovely friendly bacteria, you are loosing a huge percentage of your immune system. Antibiotics, NSAIDs (Non Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs such as ibuprofen and paracetamol) and indigestion tablets will either destroy the bacteria or compromise the intestinal wall, making it porous and ‘leaky’. Take a supplement daily from a reputable company.
Don’t be fooled by brand yoghurts that promise to contain friendly bacteria when they are really only full of sugar.
If you don’t want to take supplements, you could repopulate your gut with products such as kefir, kombucha, kimchi or sauerkraut which ferment, producing beneficial flora, and are delicious!
These are naturally occurring polysaccharides that are produced by bacteria, yeast, fungi and many plants. These have been proven to reduce tumour growth and prevent oncogenesis (the making of new cancer cells). Beta glucans also have good evidence for use in insulin resistance and high cholesterol due to their antioxidant function as a fibre from oats, barley and mushrooms.
Mushrooms such as Reishi, Shitaki and Maitake are amongst some of the medicinal variety that have a strong immunomodulatory effects on the body, but even your common button mushroom eaten daily has been proved to activate macrophages which munch up all the bad cells.
Omega 3 fatty acids
These can be found in oily fish such as salmon, trout, mackerel, sardines, anchovies and herring, they can also be found in flaxseed or chia seeds for vegetarians. Aim to eat 3-4 portions of fish a week and/or a tbsp of ground flaxseed and chia seed a day. These reduce inflammation in the body and down regulate the inflammatory cascade.
Other products that down regulate the inflammatory cascade are alpha-lipoic acid, vitamin E, N-acetyl cysteine, flavanoids from citrus (quercetin), resveratrol from red grapes and wine (1 small glass a day), and green and black tea Polyphenols.
All these are antioxidants which scavenge free radicals in the body. Unfortunately, as you age, there is a noticeable drop in your immune function, especially by your 70s and 80s. You actually produce as many immune cells as you always have, they just don’t work as well anymore. This is due to the free radical damage, therefore by adding these in a daily routine with plenty of red, green and orange fruits and vegetables, you will be sure to increase your disease fighting skills.
During the First World War raw garlic juice was used as an anti septic for bathing wounds and helped to save thousands of lives. It’s antiseptic, antifungal, and antibacterial properties have been known to be a great preventative of coughs, cold and chest infections during the winter. Garlic works by making the cells of the immune system more active, contributing to the ability of the body to fight infections. It is also a prebiotic which encourages your gut to produce extra friendly bacteria.
A strong antioxidant, ginger is also anti inflammatory, antibiotic and can be used externally for an antiseptic and pain. The extract has been known to cause apoptosis (cell death) of cancer cells. It is also known to combat chills and fevers.
From turmeric, this yellow substance is a powerful anti inflammatory and antioxidant. It can help boost cell health by improving the behaviour of the membranes. They help improve the ‘orderliness’ of cell membranes, which in turn make the cells more resistant to infection and malignancy (cancerous).
Vitamic C & Zinc
These taken together have been proven to shorten a cold or flu virus if taken at the earliest onset. Aim for 1000mg of Vitamin C and 15mg of zinc, a day at the start of a cold.
Having a good old chuckle has been known to decrease stress hormones and improve the body’s infection-fighting abilities and overall resistance to disease.
This herb was used in traditional herbal remedies by the Great Plains Indian tribes in the US. It was mainly used as an antibiotic until the western antibiotics were invented and then forgotten about until recently. Echinacea is now widely used to fight infections, especially the common cold, the flu, and other upper respiratory infections. Some people take echinacea at the first sign of a cold, hoping they will be able to keep the cold from developing. Other people take echinacea after cold symptoms have started, hoping they can make symptoms less severe.
Or Boswellia serrata. This Ayurvedic herb has been studied and has been proven to be anti-inflammatory. It is a gum resin extracted from a tree, which is sometimes burnt as an aromatic, or otherwise administered as medicine.
Immune boosting juice recipe
For an immune boosting kick, whisk together this delicious juice:
1 Lemon (whole lemon juiced if possible or the juice)
5cm piece of root ginger (grated)
1 Clove garlic (crushed)
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp raw honey