Maintaining optimal health throughout winter
Written by Gwinganna’s Retreat Manager & naturopath, Katlyn Martin.
As a naturopath, I always focus on prevention first and utilising the power of immune-boosting foods, lifestyle strategies and botanicals.
Here are a few simple tips to ensure you sail through winter glowing and full of energy.
Focus on the nutritional benefit of each meal by increasing your fruit and vegetables and choosing a beautiful variety of colours. This helps ensure a high nutritional profile of fibre, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Some foods are incredibly beneficial for immune modulation, such as mushrooms, especially reishi, lion's mane and shiitake. Add these to soups or stir-fries with some garlic for an extra boost. When crushed or chopped, garlic releases allicin, a compound that inhibits the growth of bacteria.
You might also like to try our chai golden milk recipe. Find more information at the end of this article.
The value of spending time outside in the fresh air and sunshine is underrated. If you wake in the dark and come home in the dark, make some time at lunch to get at least 15-20 mins in the fresh air and sun on your skin.
Many Australians are Vitamin D deficient and research has linked this with lowered immunity. Vitamin D supplements are also an option; however, speak with your naturopath or healthcare provider first.
Choosing exercise in winter to energise the body (not deplete the body) will boost your immunity as this stimulates your lymphatic system, increases blood flow and flushes bacteria out of your respiratory system. However, too much exercise or workouts that are too intense can have the opposite effect due to the immune-suppressive effect of cortisol (our stress hormone).
Choose yoga, Pilates, walking or moderate-intensity exercises, and even better, do these in the sunshine.
The power of plants is incredible, and as a naturopath, we have many options to choose from to support your immune system. Some favourites are andrographis, astragalus, goldenseal and the popular echinacea.
These immune-boosting herbs are shown to have many extraordinary benefits such as protection against microbes, anti-inflammatory properties and protecting the body from free radicals. Consult with your naturopath to determine the best herbal tonic for you.
Research has shown there is a link between lack of sleep and the immune system. Sleep is fundamental to fighting infection and reducing allergic response. Long term sleep deprivation can worsen chronic health conditions.
To improve your sleep, focus on sleep hygiene such as avoiding screens at night, making sure your bedroom is cool and dark and ensure you get enough early morning sunshine which assists with our circadian rhythms and deep sleep.
If you liked this article, you might like to find out more about our Winter Wellness Program.
Immune boosting Chai Golden Milk
This popular recipe is packed with immune-boosting nutrients such as ginger and turmeric.
Ginger has been used for thousands of years to cure and prevent several health problems. One of its many benefits is the prevention of colds and flu. It acts as an antihistamine and decongestant that helps to ease cold symptoms. It is also a natural antiviral and antibacterial which helps fight against illness.
Turmeric is well known for its anti-inflammatory properties. The active ingredient, curcumin, targets the inflammatory pathways in the body at a molecular level, helping to prevent and decrease chronic inflammation.
Try grating fresh turmeric into stir-fries or curries, sprinkle onto your porridge, or add a teaspoon to a smoothie.
Chai Golden Milk Recipe
2 tbsp ground turmeric
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
2 cardamom pods, seeds removed, ground
Pinch of ground cloves
¼ cup filtered water
2 tbsp coconut oil
½ tsp ground black pepper
½ cup raw cashews, soaked overnight
600ml filtered water
600ml rice milk
1 cup coconut cream
Honey, no taste
Place spices in a pan on the stove with water to form a watery paste. Cook over low heat for a few minutes until fragrant and water has been absorbed and paste is thick. Remove from heat and mix in coconut oil and pepper. This paste will be the base for the drink.
Blend drained cashews and water in a blender to make cashew milk. Place milk into a large saucepan, add rice milk and coconut cream. Add turmeric paste in small amounts until it reaches a flavour you like. Sweeten with a little honey and serve warm. Leftover paste can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Makes approx. 1½ litres.
Note: This delicious warm drink is full of antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties, which can help cleanse the liver - ideal for the cooler months. You can make a nutritious smoothie by blending this paste with any non-dairy milk and banana.
If you liked this recipe, you’ll find plenty more inspiring recipes in ‘A taste of Gwinganna’.