In Charlotte’s third piece, she explains how to keep heathy through the summer.
It’s summer. Who needs to worry about their immune system. The sun is shining (staying positive), we’re finally getting some Vitamin D and salads actually sound like a good option.
But actually if we stop to think about it, summer also equals boozy evenings, BBQs, ad hoc bursts of energy in the park with something ball related and for most of us, longer more intense bike rides on the road or up the hills. So what’s supporting our body through all this?
Exercise by its very nature causes oxidative stress on the body through the required production of energy. Generally the body is equipped to deal with this additional stress from our inbuilt immune system and antioxidant production.
But if our level of summer inspired activity goes up alongside a few immune compromising activities alcohol, burnt meat, late nights, all the fun stuff etc then we really need to realign that balance and boost our immune system reserves and we can do that easily, and naturally through food.
General support and maintenance can be achieved through a diet rich in pre and probiotics, fibre, reduced sugar (simple carbohydrates), good quality animal and plant protein and moderate intake of gluten and dairy.
Increase flavonoid rich food and smoothies; antioxidant, antiallergenic and they inhibit enzymes involved in the inflammatory response. Key flavonoids are quercetin and catechins:
● Quercetin can be found in citrus fruits, apples, onions, green tea and dark berries including blueberries, blackberries, and bilberries
● Catechins are found in broad beans, black grapes, apricots and strawberries, green and black tea
Increase antioxidant foods rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Zinc and Selenium;
● Berries, apples and citrus fruit
● Green leafy veg and red, orange and deep yellow veg e.g. spinach, kale, carrots, sweet potato, peppers
● Nuts and seeds
Increase Vitamin A and Zinc rich foods providing a host of immune supporting roles;
● Sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach (Vitamin A), Beef, spinach, asparagus, mushrooms (Zinc)
And last but not least…good ol’ garlic, shown to have antibacterial, antiviral and antiparasitic properties and also acts as a prebiotic, go wild with it (if friends & family don’t mind…)
Tone down the inflammatory response
When the immune system kicks in the natural next step is for an inflammatory response to identify, target and deal with the bacteria, pathogen or injury. However that response needs to be regulated and reducing inflammatory foods and increasing anti-inflammatory foods will aid this;
● Reduce refined sugars and red meat
● Incorporate turmeric, ginger and curcumin into meals and smoothies
● Increase Omega 3 rich foods including oily fish like sardines and salmon, flaxseeds and walnuts and reduce Omega 6 found in a lots of oils used in processed foods
There is increasing evidence to show stress reduces the effectiveness of the immune system, reduce stress through low impact exercise and relaxation techniques. So for every long bike ride or mountain you take on this summer, have something on the other side to chill you out cold beer aside!
Try this vitamin A, C & E packed, immune supporting, anti-oxidant rich smoothie. Anti-inflammatory ginger and flaxeed to protect and soothe. An anytime wellness kick.
● 1 cup of water/coconut water
● 2 carrots
● 1 large pear (or 1 large apple)
● 1 thumb size piece of grated ginger root
● 1 celery stick, sliced
● 1 tsp ground flax seed
Combine & blend – makes 2 cups.