The nights have drawn in and it is getting a lot colder (for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere anyway) – Winter is Here! It’s the 22nd December and the Winter Solstice, over the next few months another epidemic of colds, flus and dodgy viruses will be doing their rounds making these cold winter months harder than they have to be!
Like me, you may just want to hibernate, however, there is no need! By eating the right foods this winter, and by adopting a Paleo lifestyle, you can significantly reduce any symptoms of colds and flus if you’re unlucky enough to catch any, better yet, these 5 foods may just prevent you from getting ill in the first place. Here are the 5 ingredients that’ll keep you healthy this winter:
When nutritionists talk of using food as medicine, garlic is one of the most beneficial plants to our overall health and wellbeing. It is a favourite among the Holistic and Paleo community, and an essential for staying healthy this winter. Here’s why:
Garlic contains almost every vitamin you need:
- Vitamin C
- Selenium (boost immune system function and helps fight influenza)
- Vitamin B6
It also contains traces of calcium, potassium and iron. The nutrient dense bulb contains the essential vitamins that keep your body vitamin rich and healthy, and has been known to boost overall immune system function. A study found that volunteers taking an allicin-garlic supplement had 63% fewer colds over a 12-week period compared to those who didn’t have this allicin-garlic supplement, and consumed little garlic in their diet. It also showed that cold and flu like symptoms reduced by an average of 70%, and illnesses lasted for on average just under 2 days, rather than over a week for those who were not taking allicin-garlic supplements.
Allicin, is a sulfuric compound which is responsible for the taste, smell and strong anti-microbial properties garlic boasts. It’s what gives garlic many of its potent cold and flu fighting properties. These anti-microbial properties kill the bacteria in your bloodstream helping your immune system fight off colds, flus and viruses. However, allicin is enstable, and only remains for a brief time after garlic has been cut or crushed. Therefore, to experience the microbial benefits it is best to eat garlic raw – your gums and mouth will absorb the allicin into your bloodstream. Alternatively, if you don’t want garlic breath all winter, an allicin-garlic supplement may do the trick. Garlic is also used widely in many global culinary cultures; within soups, dressings, curries and much more, cook with garlic regularly over these winter months to boost immune system function and keep yourself protected this winter.
2. Citrus (Vitamin C)
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) should be a regular intake during the winter months. High levels of vitamin c have been known to ward of pathogens and bacteria, alleviate symptoms, and reduce the duration of time that you are ill. In the older and more vulnerable, Vitamin C also crucially prevents common colds and bacteria from developing into something more severe such as lung infections and pneumonia (both hard to get rid of, especially for the older generation). Eating plenty of Vitamin C rich food will help keep up energy levels, support immunity and hydrate your skin throughout winter. Here are the foods you should be eating on a regular basis in order to keep your Vitamin C levels high:
- Green and Red Belle Peppers (they contain more Vitamin C then oranges)
- Citrus (grapefruit, oranges, limes, lemons)
- Leafy Kale
- Cauliflower and Cabbage
- Berries (blueberries, strawberries, cranberries)
Sauerkraut is probiotic, meaning that it holds live bacteria naturally, created during the process of fermentation. Fermented foods such as sauerkraut are highly nutritious and a key for repairing and maintaining gut health (digestive system). They are also easier to digest than in their raw form.
So, why is sauerkraut, and your gut health, so important when fighting off winter bugs?
The sauerkraut’s lactic acid bacteria help balance the PH within your digestive system (gut), additionally, it also creates omega 3 fatty acids, which are essential for immune system function as they help heal your microbiome. Sauerkraut is a great addition to your diet all year round – however as winter approaches, I recommend upping your intake and serve it with as many meals as possible. It is extremely diverse, easy to make and accessible to buy. Serve it as a side to almost any dish.
As 80% of our immune system is located on the wall of our intestines, it is important the food we eat supports the function of our overall gut health – there is little point eating lots of sauerkraut while still eating sugars, wheat, gluten, and large amounts of dairy products and other processed foods that cause immune system damage. Any foods that cause you gut bloating and wind – you are most likely intolerant to. They will be doing more damage than good, and to stay healthy in winter, it’s important to look after your gut and immune. So don’t waste time in cutting out the harmful foods, and the sauerkraut will help heal your gut microbiome and strengthen your immune system capabilities throughout the winter.
This is my all-time favourite ingredient! Ginger can be used to add flavour to almost anything including smoothies, baking, curries and soups. A mug of ginger water in the morning will also remove bacteria build-up in your mouth and throat that would otherwise be absorbed into your bloodstream – the cause of a lot of colds. it should also warm you up nicely on a grim winter morning before you leave for work.
What makes ginger so good?
Let’s get a bit technical for moment – Gingerols and the corresponding Shogaols rhizomes in ginger are responsible for the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and anti-allergy properties that are found in ginger. Ginger have been associated with reducing nausea and relieving minor aches and pains in sufferers of osteoarthritis. In addition, ginger helps the gym goer/athlete reduce muscle damage and inflammation and helps speeding up recovery in muscle growth. Most significantly for our winter needs however, the anti-bacterial properties that make it a great natural remedy for colds, flus and sore throats during these winter months. The strong anti-inflammatory properties have the ability to reduce inflammation in sore throats, sinus and chest-based colds, helping your immune system tackle the bacteria, speeding up recovery time if you happen to fall ill over winter.
What’s the best way to take it?
Ginger has a huge range of health benefits that’ll help you thrive this winter. If you feel a sore throat coming on, feeling generally cold and grim, or have an inflamed sinus, a mug of hot ginger root will help you get through winter and combat the colds. Make ginger a regular intake this winter. Ginger is also a key ingredients in Golden Milk (recipe to be attached below) – on that note, it brings us to our final Winter Ingredient…
Science is only just catching up to the long held ancestral wisdom held by Indian and Asian cultures surrounding the amazing health benefits of turmeric. This bright yellow super-spice has been used to fight inflammation and reduce joint pain in conditions such as osteoarthritis, becoming a favourite in for its health benefits in the paleo and natural medicine and holistic community.
What’s the best way get enough turmeric?
Curcumin is the compound responsible for the strong colour, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties found in turmeric. However, it is barely absorbed into the bloodstream alone. Whenever you eat turmeric, eat it with piperine (black pepper) to enhance the absorption of the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties by up to 2000%. In some cases of arthritis, curcumin supplements have reduced inflammation better than the drug alternative (always consult your medical practitioner before changing any medication routine).
As briefly mentioned earlier, a great way to get turmeric in your body if through golden milk. Whenever you are beginning to feel under the weather, you are suffering from joint pain, or you are already ill, make a Golden Milk and experience the benefits for yourself. You symptoms should alleviate and you’ll be on the road to recovery faster than you would have been without it. See the recipe below to and try the Golden Milk for yourself! To get the most out of curcumin, use turmeric in its raw form – as a root. Rather than the processed form of powder, consume turmeric using the root if you can find it. And don’t forget to always mix it with black pepper.
What to AVOID this winter!
These 5 ingredients will help you stay healthy this winter. However, in order for you to get the most out of these foods, we recommend you cut out the foods that are also harming your body daily, perhaps without you knowing.
- processed foods (anything processed and artificially made, often prepackaged with a huge list of unknown ingredients)
- dairy (all cow derived products)
- grains (rice, quinoa etc.)
- wheat (breads, pasta, barley etc.)
All have negative effects on our health and wellbeing. But why should you be avoiding them?
They all cause inflammation that damage your immune system, joints and gut health. If your immune system is fighting self-induced inflammation (caused by what you’re eating), it won’t fight the cold and flu bacteria as effectively as it could/should be. You are more likely to get ill, and when the colds do arrive, they will be harder for you to get rid of. Not only that, but the active ingredients in our 5 winter ingredients, like your immune system, will focus on fighting inflammation caused by your diet.
This really is the best time of year to cut out the crap that’s harming your body and start eating clean! Remove the negative side affects from food by going Paleo, and you’ll start feeling the benefits in just a few days. By the time the new year hits, you’ll be ready to go! I has created 3 meal plans for you to begin your paleo journey. We have you covered with 3 meals a day, 7 days a week for either 30 Days, 5 Weeks, or 10 Weeks. All you have to do is follow the plans and cook, and within 10 days you will notice the huge difference to your health, weight and energy levels by following one of our plans. For more information, check out our page: The Paleo Cottage
Take care of your body, it’s the only place you have to live.
Golden Milk Recipe
- 1 tablespoon Grated Turmeric Root OR 1 teaspoon of Ground Turmeric
- 1 tablespoon Raw Honey
- 1/4 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
- 5-7 slices Raw Ginger Root
- 1 cup Almond Milk
- A generous amount of Freshly Cracked Black Pepper
- Add all the ingredients to a saucepan. Over a low-medium heat, bring to a simmer and stir thoroughly.
- Once simmering, leave for a further 5 minutes. Stir occasionally to make sure the spices are properly incorporated.
- After this time, sieve over your mug to remove the lumps.
- Drink while still warm. Enjoy!
P.S. There may be affiliate links in this post which means I may receive a small commission if you purchase something through a link. However, please take comfort from the knowledge (from knowing) that I only recommend products, I know, like and trust.
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