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How to Boost Your Immunity During the Winter Flu Season

flu season
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Beat the flu

It’s officially flu season and the last thing we want is to succumb to all the nasty viruses circling about.  How can we use nutrition to keep our immunity strong during this time of year?

Embrace the Orange Foods

Nature’s winter bounty is full of foods which are rich in immune boosting properties.  Oranges, mandarins and the rest of the citrus fruits are rich in antioxidants which helps to fight off viruses.  Sourcing your Vitamin C from whole food sources is key because they come packed full of other nutrients like carotenoids, flavonoids and polyphenols which you cannot get from a supplement. Orange vegetable foods are also full of Vitamin A, which is also important for immunity.  That’s why carrots are such a staple when making bone broth or chicken soup.

Orange is also the colour of your sacral chakra which is the home of our maternal creativity, so nourishing your womb with orange foods, like orange lentils, butternut squash, sweet potato and satsumas could also help you feel more connected and grounded to yourself.

Pumpkin Seed Butter: the New Peanut Butter

When winter hits, it’s time to up the ante and look for ways to trade up your nutrient intake in order to get the maximum bang for buck.  One of my favourite ways of doing this is by trading the peanut butter for pumpkin seed butter and lathering it on apple slices.  Pumpkin seeds are rich in zinc, a mineral that’s super important in lowering inflammation in the body, thereby increasing immunity.  Zinc is also important to make thyroid hormones and our thyroid needs to be in tip top shape if we want to stay healthy, even when we’re not pregnant. Other rich sources of zinc include lamb, chickpeas and spinach.  Can someone say lamb tagine with hummus? Yum!

Dump the Dead Food

The holiday season is over and whilst it’s hard to curb the sweet tooth that developed after having one too many chocolate truffles, it’s time to put the dead food behind you and focus on increasing nutrient intake.  The more sugar we eat, whether that be the sugar in our tea, coffee, the extra carb portion at lunch or the cheeky muffin coming in at snack, the more exposed we become to nutrient deficiencies.  When our body metabolises sugar, it guzzles through our magnesium reserves and that’s bad news for bone density, constipation and muscle cramps.  Plus, it depletes our Vitamin C levels – and that’s why sugar intake is the number one thing I look out to boost immune levels.

A Hot Cuppa Chicken Soup or a Golden Latte

Keeping well hydrated is always important for immunity but during the winter, a hot cuppa is always welcome. Instead of reaching for a builder’s tea – trade up your cuppa and have a warming cup of broth or a turmeric latte.

Chicken broth is the best for immunity. When cooked, chicken releases an amino acid called cysteine, which helps to breakdown proteins found in the mucous that settles in the lungs. Cysteine converts to glutathione, a very powerful antioxidant, that not only protects your from the negative effects of free radicals, it also carries nutrients to your immune system cells.

Carrots, one of the typical vegetable ingredients found in chicken soup, are the best natural source of beta-carotene, the precursor for Vitamin A.  Vitamin A helps fight off infections by giving your white blood cells a boost. Onions, another chicken soup ingredient, contain quercetin, another very powerful antioxidant.  Quercetin also acts as a natural anti-histamine and decongestant.

Chicken broth also contains loads of minerals in a form the body can absorb easily—e.g. calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur and trace minerals.  And it’s a great way to help heal the gut, thereby boosting immunity (70% of our immune cells are housed in the gut right?).

Read more: Boosting Gut Health During Pregnancy

Turmeric has long been used as an anti-inflammatory and paired with a bit of cinnamon powder, black pepper, vanilla and your favourite nut milk, you’ve got delicious golden latte which will help boost your immune power.

Here’s my favourite Golden Latte Recipe:

  • 1 cup of cashew milk
  • ½ tspn vanilla
  • ½ tspn turmeric powder
  • ½ tspn cinnamon
  • Pinch of black pepper
  • ½ tspn of manuka honey (optional)

Blend all ingredients in a high speed blender and then warm in a small pot. Blending it makes the nut milk frothy adding to the latte feel.

Stay healthy this winter mamas!

 

 

 

Featured image taken by Elizabeth Lies sourced via Unsplash

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