Warm one minute, freezing the next. As the weather makes up its mind I am already seeing a lot of you in the clinic for immune support. One or two colds a year is normal but if you tend to get every bug you come across, then your body is trying to tell you something.
If you are coming into winter tired and run down, you may be inviting colds and flus to come along for the ride.
Actually, the true measure of your immune health is not IF you get a cold or flu, but rather how long and how badly you suffer from it. Below are some things that will stand you in good stead for a well winter.
Get 8 hours sleep (the average person gets 2 hours less sleep than they did in 1990)
Wash your hands. An oldie but a goodie.
Reduce the sugar in your diet. 100gm of sugar reduces white blood cells ability to engulf foreign bacteria by 50%! The immune supression peaks at 2 hours but continues for 5 hours after ingestion. That is a massive reduction in immune function leaving us vulnerable to infection.
Vitamin C. Did you know that humans, primates, guinea pigs, and fruit bats are the only mammals that don’t produce their own vitamin C? Without it we will eventually die, so we need to get it from the food we eat. Because we don’t store vitamin C very well we need to get it very regularly, (daily). One of the reasons that sugar supresses immune function is that it closely resembles the vitamin C molecule and can competitively inhibit vitamin C for entry into the white blood cell. That means the more sugar you eat, the more vitamin C you need.
Good Sources of Vitamin C include:
Chili peppers, broccoli, capsicum, kale, cauliflower, strawberries, lemons, mustard and turnip greens, brussels sprouts, papaya, cabbage, spinach, kiwifruit, snow peas, cantaloupe, oranges, grapefruit, limes, tomatoes, zucchini, raspberries, asparagus, celery. Note: Drinking the juice of some of these sweet fruits will also increase your sugar intake so is unfortunatley counterproductive.
In the Clinic
Zinc status – A quick taste test can assess your zinc stores. If your stores are low, your immunity will be too.
Gut immunity – 70% of your immune system resides in your gut. Afterall, that is how most of the nasties enter our bodies so it makes sense that our immune system hangs out in this area. A urine test during your appointment can tell us if your gut immunity is compromised. If so, it is quite easily fixed with a course of probiotics.
Herbal treatment – depending on your symptoms an individulaised formula will be prescribed, but one winter wonder herb is Andrographis.
Andrographis paniculata: Used for thousands of years in traditional herbal medicine, this herbs immune actions are due to its naturally occurring chemicals (diterpenoid lactones, dimers, glucosides, flavonoids and xanthones). Andrographis stimulates proliferation of immune cells (phagocytes), which then fight bacteria and viruses. It is also anti-inflammatory and has been shown to decrease the severity of symptoms of sore throat, rhinitis, muscle aches, sinus pain, headache and fatigue. Perfect for colds and flu.
Vitamin D – if you wear sunscreen, make-up and sunglasses you may not be getting enough vitamin D. Although we get small amounts of vitamin D from food (sardines, shitake mushrooms, mackerel, eggs), most of it is synthesised just under the skin when exposed to sunlight (UVB rays). It has been suggested that most of us are not getting enough direct sunlight (slip slop slap!) to supply adequate vitamin D. Among its many other functions vitamin D has a large role to play in immunity. You can get a blood test to check your levels.
One last word about colds and flu. Both are caused by viruses therefore antibiotics wont help at all. Where antibiotics come in very handy is if you develop a post viral, bacterial infection.
Raw chocolate and berry tart
This tart is AMAZING! I was first introduced to Renata’s food at an event and I was blown away. Her chocolate mousse had avocado in it! Everything she makes is raw, totally natural and really yummy.
1 cup dried shredded cocnut
1 cup macadamia nuts
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup chopped pitted dates
2 avocados, peeled and sliced
5 tablespoons raw cocoa powder
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla pod
1 punnet strawberries
2 bananas, sliced
For the crust: place the coconut in a food processor fitted with an S blade, and process to a fine powder. Add the nuts and salt and blend to a course meal. Add the dates and process till the mixture is loose and crumbly (but still holds together when pressed tightly). Press the crust firmly into a 9-inch ungreased tart pan. Put in the fridge or freezer while you make the filling.
For the filling: Place the avocados, cocoa powder, honey, vanilla, salt and cinnamon into the food processor and process till smooth.
To assemble: Divide the filling into 3 equal parts. Place a layer of sliced bananas on top of the crust using all the banana. Spread a layer of the filling on top of the banana. Next, place a layer of the sliced strawberries on top of the filling. Spread another layer of filling on top of the strawberries, then more strawberries, then more filling then the remainder of the berries. Chill for at least 1 hour before serving. Can be stored in an airtight container for 3 days in the fridge, or up to 2 months in the freezer.
Renata holds interactive workshops where she teaches how to make more of these delicious desserts. See www.fromgreytogreen.co.nzfor more information.
Thai Style Iceberg Wraps
These wraps are a twist on rice paper rolls and you can add or minus any of the ingredients below to suit your taste. Lots of fun to make, I usually lay out all the ingredients on a big platter and everyone can pick and choose their fillings.
6-8 outer leaves of an iceberg lettuce
2 cups cooked vermicelli bean thread noodles
1/2 cup roasted cashew nuts
2 cups cooked shrimp, cold smoked salmon or shredded chicken
1/2 cup finely chopped spring onions
1 cup thinly sliced carrot strips
1 cup of bean sprouts
1 cup thinly sliced red capsicum strips
1 cup thinly sliced cucumber strips
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbsp coriander leaves
2 tbsp mint leaves
Place your chosen ingredients in the middle of a whole lettuce leaf and wrap.
For the dipping sauce
2 spring onions, finely chopped
1 tsp minced red chilli
1 shallot, finely diced
4 tbsp rice wine vinegar
4 tbsp lime juice (about two limes)
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp grated palm sugar (you can substitute brown sugar)
1 tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh coriander, finely chopped
Combine all ingredients and use to dip the wraps in. Serves 2. Enjoy!