Oh Autumn. Yes, we love the mist, the conkers, the food (clearly we’ve talked about ALL of this already)….But, we really don’t love the coughs, the colds or the flu. It’s not yet the middle of September and already half the people I know have succumbed to some kind of illness. I think it’s the change in seasons (it’s happened a little earlier than last year, but hey, that’s the pay-off for a great summer), it’s definitely Not Much Fun. Which is why, we are taking all the precautions we can and boosting up our bodies in preparation for the months ahead.
To do this, we’ve enlisted the help of uber-nutritionist Henrietta Norton, the founder of Wild Nutrition, who we spoke to back in June about healthy summer eating. This time, Henrietta has focused on the essential topic of how to nourish your health this winter….
“As we prepare for the autumn equinox later this week, it seems apt to put thought to nourishing our health for the winter ahead. Preparation is, after all, the work-horse of prevention….
Here is my 5-point plan to support your body this winter:
1. Start from the base – The immune system has been likened to your body’s private army. The majority of this army lives in the digestive system, primarily in the form of good bacteria and ensuring you have adequate levels of these could support your resistance to colds and flu. Research published earlier this year also demonstrated that this beneficial flora can improve brain activity (such as concentration) in women, another perk for those of us affected by the darker days. Good bacteria can be found in live natural yoghurt or a good quality multi-strain daily supplement such as Multi-Strain Biotic from Wild Nutrition.
2. Health from the root up – Root vegetables such as squash and beetroot are rich in the nutrients selenium, carotenoids and vitamin C, which offer essential support for the immune system. This is great news for our skin too as these nutrients protect our skin cells from oxidative damage and inflammation. Slow roast or blend into winter warming soups.
3. Medicinal Mushrooms – Called the ‘Mushrooms of Immortality’ cordyceps sinesi, maitake and reishi have been used in Tibetan medicine for thousands of years. They are rich in polysachharides that support our defences against infection and, on the occasions we do get ill, strength and duration is reduced. Shiitake and oyster mushrooms also contain the benefits, albeit at lower levels, so throw these into your stir-fry or lightly grill and add to sourdough bread with chopped parsley for a nutritious breakfast. Alternatively choose a good daily multi-nutrient such as Wild Nutrition’s Balance MultiNutrient , which includes these along with antioxidants.
4. Nourish your mind –Inadequate magnesium appears to reduce serotonin levels and recent research has highlighted the mood supporting benefits of this fabulous mineral even in treatment-resistant mild depression. Build in magnesium-rich delights into your daily feast such oats, millet, pumpkin seeds, almonds, chard and spinach. As 70% of western women are estimated to be deficient in magnesium you may choose to supplement your diet. Choose supplements in a Food-State rather than synthetic versions, as they are better absorbed and require lower doses.
5.Berry healthy – Berries are abundant at this time of year and it is no coincidence; they pack a powerful punch when it comes to infection. Blackberries are rich in phytonutrients called anthocyanidins which can support the fight against bacterial, viral and fungal infections. They have also been shown to support the body’s balance of blood sugar and thereby energy and weight. They also have a mild anti-inflammatory affect that can have a positive impact on aching joints or chapped winter skin. When ripe they are an excellent source of Vitamin C too, a nutrient that has already placed itself at the centre of natural immune support. Get foraging and store in the freezer for warming compotes, crumbles or pockets of bursts of colour in your morning porridge.