Autumn is here Sydney. Everyone is quaking as colds and flu season approaches- days off school, all the family sick, days off work ….. There are things you can do to help boost the immunity and winter wellness of the whole family!
1. Eat well: because we are what we eat, good nutrition is an important aspect of providing your body with what it needs for healthy functioning in all areas. This is what I find is lacking in many people’s health. Most important:
Inclusion of your daily 5 of rainbow vegetables and fruit (1-2 pieces of fruit and 3-4 servings of vegetables). Highly coloured vegetables contain a plentiful supply of macro-and micro- nutrients that help to reduce inflammation, increase detoxification and support all body functions.
Elimination of highly processed and refined foods which are high kilojoule but nutritionally empty and includes pre-prepared snacks/meals and take away food. These foods promote inflammation (which challenges your immune system), cause radical blood sugar fluctuations (affecting mood and energy) and contribute to obesity and dental cavities. If food is the fuel for your body and cells, you cannot be healthy if you are filling it with poor quality fuel!
2.Sleep is necessary for rest and recuperation after all daily activities. Sleep deficit is associated with depressed immunity and has many other long term effects. Adults require 7-9 hours, Teens: 10 hours and children 5-12yrs require 10-16 hours each night. Going to bed at the right time is essential for both adult and child establishing a positive habit for all aspects of good health. Kids and teens need good sleep to support their immunity and also brain development. When feeling unwell, allow yourself extra sleep to help your immune system fight the germs!
3. Sunshine vitamin, Vitamin D is needed for many body functions, including immunity. Found in very few foods, ten to fifteen minutes of sun exposure on bare skin each day (between 10 & 4pm and without sunscreen) helps our skin to make Vitamin D that our body can store. This vitamin also supports strong bones and healthy mood. (People who have highly pigmented/darker skin have higher Vitamin D requirements than their fairer-skinned neighbours). If you cannot get out into the sunshine please consider taking a Vitamin D supplement (Bioceutical D3 Drops Forte is an excellent product and easy to give to both adults and children).
4. Medicinal Foods are definitely our medicine and fuel! These foods should be included to provide winter support.
- Garlic and onions- known for antibacterial action. White onions and also garlic kill bacteria including staphylococcus and salmonella. Did you know onions were used during World War II to help kill bacteria? Used to kill airborne bacteria and as wound dressings to prevent sepsis.
- Bone Broth (particularly chicken soup) from long cooked bones provides easily absorbed nourishment when you are sick or well. Dehydrated pastes and powders are available if you don’t have time to prepare your own.
- Mushrooms- a true medicinal superfood, all mushrooms, not just reishi and shiitake, but all mushrooms are tonic foods for the body, improving and supporting immunity via their beta-glucan content.
5. Supplements may not be necessary if you are achieving points 1-3 successfully. Yet there are times when you and the family may be vulnerable and need a boost: stress, overly busy, or fatigued or when there are colds and flu about. Give extra support with:
- Vitamin C: We are familiar with Vitamin C for immune support and it’s also great for supporting us during stress. Taken as ascorbic acid or the gentler-on-your-stomach sodium or calcium ascorbate, vitamin C can be taken by both adults and children, and is safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
- Zinc: utilised by the immune system and also for support of the mucosa (in the throat, nasal and sinus particularly). Zinc is easily destroyed by excessive consumption of “junk” and high sugar diets. Stress and pollution also cause a higher demand for this mineral.
- Cod Liver oil: available in both liquid and capsule form, Cod Liver Oil is high in vitamins A and D as well as Omega 3 fats which support immune function when taken regularly.
6. Especially Useful herbs: Keep these in your cupboard as “herbal first aid” and dose the family at the first signs of a sniffle or sore throat.
- Echinacea- a great herb to take as prevention or at the first symptoms of cold or flu. I prefer a liquid herb here as it works very well. Dosage is best little and often
- Elderberry: clinical research supports the traditional use of Elderberry for shortening the duration of colds and flu and may act as a preventative.
- Andrographis: Especially indicated for upper respiratory tract infections and evidence suggests it may also be preventative. It is also useful when there is fever. This herbs is not to be used during pregnancy.
- Olive Leaf Extract: Kills bacteria, fungi and exerts a strong antimicrobial effect. Olive leaf can be used for the common cold through to influenza.
- Licorice root: not only a delicious tea! Licorice exerts antiviral and antimicrobial activity and supports your immune system. It is also useful as an antitussive (suppresses coughing). Some people cannot take licorice. Please check with your naturopath or other health professional for guidance.
There are some health conditions and pharmacy medications that can be affected by herbal medicines.
Always check with your naturopath or herbalist to select the herbs right for you.
- 1 whole chicken or 1-2 kg chicken drumsticks (organic, free range)
- 3-4 cloves garlic
- 5cm piece of turmeric, peeled
- 2-3cm piece of ginger, peeled
- large handful Italian parsley or cilantro
- 1 head cauliflower (approx 800g), cut into florets
- 2 Tbsp ghee or chicken fat
- 2 large onions, chopped
- 1-2 stalks celery, finely sliced
- 1 leek, tough outer green leaves removed, finely sliced (wash carefully)
- 3-4 large carrots, sliced
- 1 large turnip, cut into 2cm cubes
- 2-3 sprigs fresh sage, leaves only, chopped
- 2-3 sprigs thyme, leaves only, chopped
- 1 sprig rosemary, leaves only, chopped
- 6 large mushrooms of choice, sliced
- 1 head broccoli, cut into florets, stalks peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 small bunch leafy greens (kale, bok choy, spinach, etc), finely sliced
- sea salt, to taste (approx 3-4 tsp)
- black pepper, to taste
- Place the chicken into a large stock pot (6-8 litres), or divide between two 4 litre pots. Pour in water, leaving 5 cm space at the top. Place the lid on and bring to a boil, scoop off any scum, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 1½ - 2 hours or until chicken is soft.
- Preparing other ingredients:
- Place garlic, chilli, turmeric, ginger and parsley into food processor until finely chopped.
- Chop other vegetables and herbs.
- Place Blitz cauliflower florets in food processor with 200g of chicken broth and ghee/duck fat. Until combined.
- Cook 20 mins in a saucepan. Set aside.
- When chicken is finished cooking, remove with a slotted spoon and place into a dish to keep warm.
- Add chopped onion, celery, leek, carrots, turnip, sage, thyme, rosemary and dulse flakes/kelp to the broth. Continue to simmer with lid on for 15 mins.
- Add mushrooms, broccoli and leafy greens. Continue to simmer with lid on until all the vegetables are soft.
- Add in the mash and the reserved chopped herbs: garlic, ginger and turmeric. Turn off the heat, and stir through gently until combined.
- Season to taste with salt, pepper and cayenne pepper (if using).
- If using drumsticks, remove meat from bone and flake into soup in large pieces. Or if using a whole chicken, cut into pieces and add to soup. Stir through gently so chicken and veggies don't break up too much. Adjust seasonings as required
- Serve hot!
Desley Hatfield | Naturopath
Desley is a degree qualified naturopath who has a clinic space at Mr Vitamins WellBeing Clinic in Ashfield. Desley can help to boost your immunity using whole foods, herbs and supplements. If you would like to improve your Winter Wellness or any aspect of your health book a free “Introduction to Wellness” assessment with Desley today to see how she can help you.