Battling the Bugs
Battling the Bugs: Staying Well with Nutrition
Heather Smith, Nourish Nutrition and Lifestyle Coaching
(Plus, see the end of the post for a Winter Warmer Throat Soother recipe by Heather).
Autumn is my favourite time of year – a crispness in the air, colourful landscapes and that last bit of glorious sunshine before winter in Melbourne sets in. This year, however, it’s brought along with it the early arrival of cold and flu season. As much as I love the thought of curling up under a blanket and sipping a warm cup of herbal tea, I usually only find the time to do that when I’ve caught one of the season’s little nasties, which, thankfully, isn’t very often.
In the last few weeks I’ve seen several clients who have been infected with the latest virulent strain of the flu. So how can you avoid ‘catching a bug’? The short answer: sometimes you can’t. Our days are filled with human contact, which naturally increases our exposure to viruses. Couple that with the stress of daily life and it may not always be possible to avoid colds and flu. You can, however, make sure it doesn’t knock you around by nourishing your body and your soul before it strikes with some of nature’s super foods — rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants:
- GARLIC — One of my go-to foods for boosting immunity. It’s a fantastic little warrior that protects our system from infection with its antimicrobial phytonutrients. Keep it fresh and raw to preserve all that powerful goodness.
- MUSHROOMS — Shiitake, oyster and enoki have strong antiviral properties and are some of nature’s most potent immune boosters.
- GINGER — Another powerful favourite, with antiviral and antibacterial actions. A 2012 study found that fresh ginger actually prevented a virus from attaching to and infecting respiratory cells and even boosted antiviral proteins! It’s a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant and can help soothe the throat during infection.
- RED PEPPERS – Capsicums and chillies are rich in vitamin C (one of nature’s most powerful immune-boosting vitamins), vitamin A (also needed for immunity) and the spicy phytochemical capsaicin, which is great for clearing congested sinuses.
- BEETROOT — Contains a unique mixture of minerals and phytochemicals that resists infection and boosts cellular intake of oxygen.
- PUMPKIN, CARROTS AND OTHER BRIGHTLY COLOURED VEGGIES — Rich in beta-carotene (which turns into Vitamin A), support healthy immune function and provide antioxidant protection.
- CURCUMIN — The active component of turmeric has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries and for good reason. It’s a powerful anti-inflammatory and may actually make cells more resistant to infection.
- DARK COLOURED BERRIES — Full of antioxidants and vitamin C, these little powerhouses can help keep your system fighting in the winter months.
- NUTS AND SEEDS — Contain Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids that are essential to our bodies’ organs and cellular health, which may strengthen immune function.
- WHOLEGRAINS — Brown rice, quinoa, millet and amaranth are gluten free and are more easily assimilated into usable energy. They contain protein, B vitamins for proper immune support and help keep blood sugars stable.
- FISH — Salmon, sardines, mackerel and anchovies are excellent sources of Omega 3s and protein, which nourish the immune system and help repair tissues and support recovery.
- FRESH SPRING WATER — You can’t beat H2O for flushing out the nasties! Keep hydrated and shoot for 1.5–2 litres daily.
Last but not least, practise good hygiene during the cold and flu season by washing your hands with soap and water frequently after coming into contact with door handles, public toilets and other high-traffic public areas. If you do fall prey to the season’s latest bug, protect yourself and those around you by staying home until contagion passes!
WINTER WARMER THROAT SOOTHER
This warming drink comes straight from nature’s medicine cabinet. Loaded with antioxidants and immune boosters to help kick that cold to the curb!
- 1 cinnamon stick, halved
- 1 small knob ginger, julienned
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
- ¼ tsp fenugreek seeds (should be omitted in pregnancy)
- 3 thin slices red chilli pepper
- 1 slice orange or lemon
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1/2 tsp raw manuka honey, optional
Place all the spices and the orange slice in a cup. Add boiling water and set aside to brew for 5 minutes. Sweeten with honey if desired.
Heather Smith is a Nutritionist and Coach passionate about whole food and the nourishment it provides. She believes that healthy, nutritious food is also the best tasting food and is committed to inspiring, motivating and encouraging clients to achieve their personal best and be positive about themselves and the choices they make.
Heather and Nourish Nutrition and Lifestyle Coaching are a part of the Nourish Melbourne Community. Heather offers Nourish Melbourne Members $20 off their initial consult fee and 10% of follow up appointments, ongoing (excludes supplementation). Click here to find out more about our partnership, or click here to find out more about becoming a Nourish Melbourne Member.