This morning the sun may be shining, but basically, it’s here isn’t it? That cold, wet and dark time of year when the lurgy is lurking around every corner. Or at least, it feels like that when every small person’s nose you see is a snotty one and the shops/ tube/streets are full of people coughing, sneezing and spreading germs. Urghh. Because I hate being ill (being a patient is not my forte) and I hate my children being ill, I’m going to throw everything I have at keeping healthy this year. Mornings will be kickstarted with a shot of green juice (more on this to come), sleep will be welcomed like a long-lost friend and meals will be chocca-bloc full of vitamin-packed veggies (or at least this is the plan). Helping me in my quest for a winter-free of bone-numbing colds and throat-scratching coughs is the amazing Henrietta Norton, nutritionist and founder of the Wild Nutrition range of supplements. From her top immune-boosting foods to her thoughts on children’s supplments and tips on what to do when you feel that cold coming on, here’s what she has to say…
What are the top three immune-boosting foods that we should be eating at this time of year and why?
The autumn season is abundant with foods rich in immune-boosting properties. My top three would have to be blackberries which are rich in antioxidants called flavanoids and Vitamin C; Squashes which have one of the richest sources of anti-inflammatory omega 3 and beta-carotene, and beetroot which has betacyanin and iron to nourish the blood through the colder months.
If you feel a cold coming on, is there anything you can eat/take to boost yourself up and try and ward it off?
I would make a squash soup with lots of ginger, garlic and fresh chicken stock or a blackberry and beetroot smoothie with almond milk. Throw in some coconut butter for its anti-microbial effects too – it sounds horrendous but it taste delicious and really does the trick.
If you’re unlucky enough to fall ill, what should you eat/take to help you heal quicker?
I love our Wild Nutrition Food-State Vitamin C & Bioflavanoids because it provides Vitamin C in a form our body recognises how to use and so you need less of it. I take 2 capsules, 3 times daily for 1-2 days if I or any of my family feel a bit sniffly.
Do you have a tried and tested routine for when you get ill? i.e. is there a favourite ‘comfort food’ dish you eat when you’re coming down with a cold? Do you up your dose of vitamins? Do you try and rest as much as possible?
All of the above! I will load up on ‘colour’ in my diet which basically means eating warming soups such as spinach or squash or roasted root veg but always warming foods. I will always make a couple of smoothies during the day too, which includes mixed berries, a handful of leafy greens, cooked beetroot, ginger, cinnamon and some warm almond milk (I do smoothies rather than juices because the fibre is important too). I go to bed as early as I can and keep as warm as I can too.
It’s inevitable that children will fall ill over winter, but is there anything you recommend they eat to help boost their immune system over the coming months?
Taking a good quality MultiVitamin can be extremely supportive during the winter months. My children take our Wild Nutrition Bespoke Child Food-State MultiNutrient, which provides a range of food-state nutrients including Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Selenium and zinc in their natural form and needed for a healthy immune system. It also includes elderberry which is excellent for warding off viral and bacterial infections and, should they fall ill, clinical studies have shown it to reduce the duration of infection – it blows echinacea out of the water in my view.
Should children take supplements to boost their health? If so, what do you recommend?
Supplements can be an excellent addition to a healthy diet. As a mum of 3 young boys I know that despite best intentions, it can be very hard to feed them as ‘healthily’ as you would like especially very fussy eaters. The National Diet and Nutrition Survey in 2013 highlighted that 92% of girls and 89% of boys were not reaching the recommended government target of 5-a-day and that the majority of all children fell below the lowest reference range of many important nutrients. Taking a good Daily MultiNutrient that includes iron, zinc and Vitamin D can be very supportive to bridge this nutrient gap.
What healthy cold-fighting foods do you recommend for fussy eaters? Do you have any fail-safe dishes/foods you can recommend?
I make an excellent hide-all-veg shepherds pie using a holy grail of celery (rich in vitamin K and folate), red pepper (rich in vitamin C), red onions (rich in antioxidant flavanoids) and garlic (potent anti-microbial for the immune system). Instead of using only lamb mince, do half lamb (rich in Zinc) and half puy lentils (rich in iron). Instead of white potato mash, use half celeriac and half sweet potato with some grated cheese. Seems to work for the fuss-chops in our house!
Wild Nutrition’s Bespoke Child range launches 15th November at Wild Nutrition