Prevention is better than a cure! Start making these small changes for a strong & resilient immune system this winter! From sleep to mushrooms, I breakdown the science to give you my top 5 tips to a strong immunity without any expensive superfoods. Aw and don’t forget to try my delicious, gut warming turmeric latte recipe below.
1. Wash your hands
Prevention is always better than a cure! Don’t wait until you have a cough, cold, sore throat or even the flu before you start being careful of what germs you’re carrying around. Instead be proactive and wash your hands thoroughly:
Before preparing food for yourself or your family
After changing a kids nappy
After blowing your nose
After going to the bathroom/toilet
2. Get plenty of sleep
More and more research is coming out about sleep. It’s not only how much sleep you’re having but the quality as well. Different types of sleep within your sleep cycle are important for the body to rest, recoup and repair. In fact, a lack of sleep aka sleep deprivation reduces the bodies ability to fight bacterial infections. Scientists have already reveals that we really need a good 7-9 hours of sleep per night and any less can affect our ability to socialise the next day, how lonely other people perceive us to be & the microbiome.
If you struggle with your sleep try the following:
Turn off all electronic equipment including TV’s at least 60 minutes before sleep time
Start a bedtime routine which may include: TV off, phone away, shower, brush teeth, 10 minute meditation
No phones in your bedroom. If you can’t do this, have your phone charging away from your bed and please please please turn it to do not disturb.
Cool your core body temperature before bed. To do this, have a bath or hot shower. Your body will heat up causing your vessels to dilate. This releases heat from your core causing a drop in body temperature which is essential for the initiation of sleep.
3. Prioritise plant protein
Protein is the building blocks of your immune system. To include more plant-based protein in your daily diet, start by including legumes, tofu, tempeh, nuts and seeds on the shopping list. Then each day ensure a quarter of your plate or lunch container is made up of one of these plant-based proteins.
4. Stock up on turmeric, ginger & garlic
These are some of my favourite pantry staples and in winter some must haves in both the pantry and the fridge. Combined all together in a stir-fry, these 3 spices not only add a spicy, aromatic tang to any veggie dish but play a pretty big role in helping the immune system do its thing. Let’s take a deeper look into why turmeric, ginger & garlic are so damn good for us.
Turmeric is known for it’s spicy & tart flavour with a bright yellow hue, this ancient Indian spice is known for it’s anti-inflammatory & anti-oxidant properties. The active ingredient found in turmeric, called curcumin, is thought to play a role in reducing inflammation & the compounds that cause damage to our cells (also known as free radicals). However, the gut microbiome is also worth a mention here. One study looked at different doses of curcumin on the composition of the microbiome. They found that curcimin increases the ratio of good bacteria (namely bifidobacteria, lactobacilli, and butyrate-producing bacteria) to bad bacteria. Changes to the diversity of bacteria in the gut was also reported in a small randomised control trial.
But it get’s better…
To help absorb curcumin, piperine found in black pepper increases the availability of the curcumin by more than 1000 times. Yes, more than 1000 times! So grab some turmeric, mix in some pepper & sprinkle on your next tofu dish or add it to the pot next time you’re making dahl.
Keen to try a home-made turmeric latte? Here’s my gut warming recipe:
Combing the following in a glass jar until ready to make up a cup.
4 tablespoons of turmeric
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon peppercorns
To make up a cup you’ll need:
1 teaspoon of turmeric mixture
250ml of your favourite plant-based milk
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste
Place 250ml of soy or almond milk & 1 teaspoon of the turmeric mixture into the pot.
Add 1 teaspoon of grated ginger & 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla paste into the pot.
Heat to a soft boil, lightly whisking as the milk heats.
Pour into mug & sip away.
Now onto ginger…
Ginger can boost your immune system and help to reduce inflammation. One of the key phytonutrients founds in ginger is called gingerol. Studies show that ginger can help to reduce nausea although how this actually happens is still yet to be worked out. Add ginger to chopped up, steamed broccoli, to your next stir-fry or tea.
and to end…
Garlic. Garlic has a really cool phytonutrient in it called allicin. Allicin is known for it’s virus fighting, bacteria killing and cell-death inducing functions. To access the allicin found embedded within the cells of the garlic, crush it with the back of a knife or spoon or slice and dice it before letting it sit for 10minutes prior to cooking. For some garlic loving recipes download The Plant-Based Plate recipe ebook available now.
5. Eat your shrooms
O.M.G mushrooms are an amazing food to include on your weekly shopping list. If you don’t enjoy eating mushrooms that’s okay however start experimenting now with different ways to enjoy these bad boys because they are packed with amazing nutrients like beta-glucans (reduced cholesterol), glutamate and have an immune boosting effect too.
Yep, it comes back to gut health. You known those wonderful gut microbes found in your large intestine? Well these mushrooms not only feed beneficial bacteria in the gut but also down regulate inflammation.
For a more fun way of getting more mushrooms into your meal, try adding them my delicious Sweet Potato and Walnut Sausage Rolls.
Seriously! Isn’t the body just amazing?! If there is one thing I have taken away from this research on sleep, immunity and the gut microbiome, it is that it’s all interlinked. Sleep is the keystone to good health and a strong immune system. Then along comes a good quality diet with a special focus on ginger, garlic, pepper, turmeric and mushrooms.
If you’d love this post share it with a friend that is in urgent need of some immune boosting benefits this winter.