Family winter comfort food for wellness

Let’s kick sick days to the curb!

Heading into winter means for many heading into comfort food and lots of indoor time, but maintaining a robust immune system needs a little fore-thought especially in these times.

Making small adjustments to our food choices and our lifestyle is super easy to do when your aware of the benefits. When you think of the cost of days off sick let alone feeling rubbish or if the kids are sick and having days off school, being proactive with your health make a world of difference.

Let's take a look at a few of my favourite immune-modulating tricks to keep your family healthy

Vitamin D for immunity

The immune system defends the body from foreign, invading organisms, promoting protective immunity while maintaining tolerance to self. Vitamin D deficiency has implications on the immune system there appears to be an increased susceptibility to infection.
So what can you do to improve your Vitamin D? Tip: if you want to get it tested look for a result over 100nmol/liter for optimal Vitamin D (not 50nmol/liter like the Dr looks for...that's based on an average of sick people!)

1. Get out into the sun

Yes even in winter! Expose your arms or legs and if possible your tummy for at least 20 minutes a day three times a week...I know it's a big ask but it's worth it. And don’t get into the shower straight after your “sun bathing” as you can literally wash the vitamin D formed on your skin.

2. Eat fatty fish

Sardines, salmon and mackerel are an awesome addition to boost vitamin D. Don’t forget your egg yolk or add liver to meals (you can totally hide blitz up liver and vegetables in a bolognaise sauce; the kids wont even know!) and mushrooms...make sure you cook them up in some grass-fed butter or coconut oil as vitamin D is fat soluble, we need the fat to absorb it.

3. Mushrooms

Shrooms are a fabulous immune booster; these have been known for thousands of years in the Eastern countries. These mushrooms contain biologically active polysaccharides that mostly belong to group of beta-glucans. They enhance the macrophages and natural killer cells of your immune system. Shitake mushrooms are high in beta-glucans...and if you don't like the taste of texture of mushrooms I have access to wonderful practitioner-only mushroom extracts that are easy to supplement with and are high just need to book a discovery call with me and I can direct you to the most appropriate consult with me so we can discuss your immune issues.

Vitamin C and Zinc foods

Adding Vitamin C rich foods is a given in winter; like all your citrus which are in season (funny that!)...but also look for broccoli, dark leafy greens, and bright reds and oranges like capsicum.
Zinc can be found in nuts and seeds, animal protein such as grass-fed beef or lamb or free-range chicken (bone broth is an excellent source of this mineral plus other goodies). 

Adding blackcurrants to your smoothies can be a great boost of vitamin C. Don't forget to eat a mix of raw and cooked vegetables as heat will damage vitamin C.

Don't forget your gut health

It's super important to look after our gut bugs...a large part of our immune system is made in our gut. Eating fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt, kombuccha (check those sugar levels though!) and prebiotic foods such as high fibre veges and things like cooked and cooled potatoes are a good source of resistant starch which the good gut bugs love to thrive on.
Don’t be surprised if your kids actually like sauerkraut, many often like sour tasting foods…start with a half a teaspoon on the side, make it a regular condiment on the dinner table.

What's with sugar & immunity?

Ah Sugar...our favourite comfort food...nothing like a few Toffee Pops on a Netflicks binge when it's pouring with rain outside! But stop right there...if you want to be mindful of your immune system you may want to switch those Toffee pops out to some cacao protein energy balls. Studies have shown that a high sugar diet can reduce phagocytic activity (white blood cells that engulf the bad guys like viruses and other pathogens) these guys are part of our innate immune system...this is what our kids rely on as their adaptive immune system is still developing.
Check out my Easy Gluten Free Dairy Free Energy Boosting Snacks ebook for some great sugar free snack ideas that the whole family will love.

Stay active: Get outdoors

Getting outdoor in winter is important to de-stress and stay active. The old saying that is no such thing as bad weather just bad clothing is pretty true! Saturday sports for kids is a great way to keep them active but also is getting out on you bikes, heading to the beach or walking the dog as a family is a great way to connect as a family as well.

Reducing stress is hugely important as stress weakens the immune system. Stress depletes us of certain minerals such as zinc and magnesium which are essential for a robust immune system. Taking time to rest is as important as eating nutritious food.

These are just a few ideas to keep your family well this winter.
If you’d like a more detailed plan book a free 15 minute discovery call with me today and let’s see which consultation would be right for you.

Written by Naturopath and Gut Health Specialist - Jane McClurg

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