Building Immunity Through Good Nutrition
Jessica Spendlove & Chloe McLeod of The Health and Performance Collective share their top tips and a great recipe for keeping your immunity in top shape this Winter!
As we head into the colder months of the year, it can sometimes feel like every second person you speak with either has, or is recovering from a cold or flu. This can mean keeping yourself healthy and optimising your health is even higher on the radar than usual. Here are 6 easy nutrition tips to help you get through the winter months, along with a tasty, magnesium-rich recipe which will work wonders for your immune system, as well as your taste buds.
1. Keep up your fluids - Dehydration can lead to cell membranes which are more permeable to pathogens and bacteria, which can make us more likely to pick up a cold or flu. If you are struggling to keep up your water intake in the cooler months, look to increase your fluid intake with delicious herbal teas, or try drinking your water at room temperature rather than ice-cold.
2. All the greens - Yep you might’ve heard it before, but you’ll benefit from hearing it again. Meeting your daily 5 serves of veggies can be such a game changer in good nutrition. Eating enough nutrients each day (which is much easier to do when vegetable intake is met) helps reduce risk of becoming unwell, but also helps optimise day to day performance, be it in your training sessions or at work. A general rule to aim for is having half of your lunch and half of your dinner coming from salad or vegetables, and then anything extra at breakfast or snacks is a win!
3. All the healthy fats – They can come from extra virgin olive oil, avocado, nuts, seeds or fish, the fact of the matter is healthy fats are an essential part of the diet. Healthy fats are key to healthy cell membranes and assist with moving fat-soluble nutrients around the body. They also help keep membranes healthy and skin healthy. Omega 3s are particularly important and are richest in oily fish (such as salmon or tuna), walnuts, chia seeds and spirulina.
4. Herbs and spices - Certain herbs and spices can impact immunity. Garlic, turmeric and ginger are commonly used to help build the immune system and rid the body of illness. Boost these up in your cooked meals, fresh juices or even get creative with an immunity shot consisting of some of these wonderful immune boosters.
5. Collagen - Bone broth had a moment recently, and whilst further research is needed, consumption of collagen or gelatin may assist with reducing gaps in the cells in our gut. Reducing these gaps can help reduce susceptibility for pathogens to move from the digestive tract into the blood, and as such may have a beneficial impact on immunity.
6. Sleep - Whilst it may seem odd that dietitians are talking about sleep and nutrition together, they seriously go hand in hand. Lack of sleep has a significant impact on the immune system, along with increased risk of a number of other health issues as well. Low magnesium levels are common and may influence sleep quality. Upping dietary intake, and using magnesium sprays, such as Salt Lab’s Magnesium Oil are well absorbed, and may assist with improving sleep duration and quality.
Here's a perfect Winter Recipe to boost your immunity going into the cold months!
Chicken and Vegetable Soup with Turmeric, Ginger and Garlic
20-30 minutes preparation time, 60 minutes cooking time
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 leek halved, thinly sliced
- 2 large carrots, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 parsnip, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 small zucchini, diced
- 2 cups silverbeet or spinach
- 1 swede, peeled and diced
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tsp grated ginger
- 1.5 L chicken broth
- 500 g skinless chicken (thighs and legs work best)
- 1 cup water
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and leek and stir until soft. Add chicken and stir-fry in pan until outside is just white. Add carrots, parsnip, zucchini and swede stirring occasionally for two minutes or until soft. Stir in stock, turmeric and ginger. Bring to boil.
- Reduce heat to low and simmer, partially covered for 1 hour (stirring occasionally) until vegetables are tender. When there are 20 minutes left, add shredded spinach/silverbeet, then continue to simmer.
- Season with pepper and serve.
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