Before I get started, there seems to be an elephant in the room (you know, the one that's all out of toilet paper and hand sanitiser). Discussions about that virus which shall not be named are everywhere and they're hard to escape. I think we need a breather from it all (I certainly do anyway), so I'm actively choosing not to focus on it in this newsletter.
However, I do want to chat to you about empowerment and self care. Collectively, there seems to be a sense of helplessness and loss of control around the world, but I want to remind you that there are always things that we can take charge of, and one of those things is supporting our bodies as best we can. Our bodies always love a little TLC, and regardless of that aforementioned elephant, we're getting to that time of year where the weather cools down and our immune systems benefit from some extra care. The awesome thing is that there are so many remedies and tips we can adopt to show this TLC. The ones I want to share with you are simple, no fuss and won't break the bank. They're ones that I've learnt over the years and that've stood me, my family and my clients in good stead.
There's no particular order to these tips, they all count and, as most of you know, I firmly believe in a holistic view of health. I believe it’s important to look after your whole self - think of everything working in concert together, rather like a wonderful orchestra. If one part of it is out of tune, or behind the beat, then the music just doesn’t sound right. So, when thinking about your immune health, also consider that your mental and emotional wellbeing, gut health, etc are also all interdependent and important. As is all the rest of you.
P.S. I have put a fair bit in here (I get a little bit excited at times when I think of all of the marvellous things that Mother Nature can do to support us! And I could have mentioned so many more!). I want to encourage you, not overwhelm you...so don't feel like you need to do all of these things (or even ready the whole list). I think most of us, like me, get quite put off by long lists of things we 'should' be doing. So forget 'should' and I hope you find some ideas here that you want to incorporate! Simplicity is the key.
My Fire Cider Vinegar and Thieves Vinegar - you can find the recipes here
Show your Immune System some TLC
Mother Nature knows best and the foods that are seasonally available in autumn and winter are the ones we should eat more of – root vegetables, leafy greens and plenty of richly coloured reds, oranges and yellows. Foods are often colour coded and, if we pay attention to that, it gives us lots of clues. Veggies and fruits that're red, orange or yellow are often rich sources of vitamins A and C, both of which are immune boosters. Vitamin A is really important for healthy mucous membranes and so a wonderful soup for this weather is a pumpkin, carrot, sweet potato with plenty of warming herbs and spices like cumin, chilli, ginger and garlic.
Load up on foods rich in nutrients that are important to your immune system
This section is brought to you by my fellow healthcare practitioner, nutritionist and daughter, Nina - I could go in to lots and lots of detail here about each specific nutrient, why they're important to immunity and food sources that contain them. But rather than doing that, here's a simple list for you to use! Some key nutrients to focus on are omega 3, vitamin A, vitamin C and zinc. Food sources include:
Orange fruits and veggies (mentioned above)
Fruits and veggies rich in Vitamin C - e.g. citrus fruit, kiwi fruit, berries, papaya, pineapple, capsicum, tomato, baby spinach
Oily fish like wild caught salmon, herring / kippers, mackerel, sardines (aim for 2 to 3 serves a week)
Walnuts, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, and most other raw nuts and seeds.
Fermented foods - e.g. pickled vegetables, yoghurt (particularly Vaalia plain yoghurt which contains the specific probiotic strain LGG), sauerkraut, kimchi and miso
Warming spices - e.g. ginger, chilli, cayenne pepper, pepper, turmeric, cumin, coriander, nutmeg, cinnamon, paprika, horseradish
Herbs - e.g. rosemary, thyme, oregano, chives
Herbal teas, including tulsi and green tea (don't be limited here - look at the list of herbs and spices, most of them can be added to or made into teas.)
Garlic and onion
Fire cider vinegar (you can check out some recipes here)
Another food tip
Also in terms of eating well for winter – if you’re feeling mucousy, coldy or run down – don’t eat mucous forming foods like dairy products and sugary, refined carbohydrates. Try to stick to hot drinks, and hot foods, not cold ones. Even drinking hot water in place of cold can help boost your immune system over the cold weather!
Modern science doesn’t really believe that getting cold can cause a cold but naturopathically we know that stress depletes your immune system and what is getting cold if not a stressor to your body? So, wear socks around the house, put a scarf on when you go out, etc (your hands, feet and neck are particularly susceptible to the cold). Top tip - if your feet are particularly cold, put the teeniest tiniest pinch of chili in your socks as it helps keep your feet warm...but only use a bit to make sure you don't irritate your skin). Also, make friends with your hot water bottle or heat pack...we love them in our household!
Think about keeping warm in regards to what you eat and drink too – soups rather than salads, warm water rather than cold. Warming herbal teas, curries and Mexican inspired dishes are all yummy ways to warm up and use warming spices in your cooking.
Rest is important too – before electricity came along, we’d all get more rest with the days being shorter – it’s what our bodies need and are programmed to do. When we sleep our bodies are repairing and rebuilding, and this is important for our immune systems. Besides which, autumn and winter are good times for snuggling and for going inwards. One of life’s small pleasures is a cosy night at home with a hot water bottle (hottie), a warm blanket and something good to entertain you before you snuggle into your cosy bed, remembering to give thanks for being safe and warm in your home.
Sore throats respond well to gargling, and there are a number of effective at home options for gargles. P.S. the more gargling, the better, so do it often!
Warm salt water – very simple and very effective
A tea made from thyme and or sage – gargle and spit and then gargle and sip
Apple cider vinegar – ¼ cup apple cider vinegar to ¼ cup warm water, stir well and gargle. You can also add things such as the sage tea above, salt, cayenne, and/or honey.
A dab of peppermint oil on a tissue or hanky tucked under the bottom sheet or under a pillowcase can help clear a blocked nose so that you or the kids can sleep better. Put it in an oil burner if you have one. You could also try a simple steam infusion - being very careful not to burn yourself of course! Pour almost boiling water into a large pot with 2-3 drops of peppermint or Eucyaluptus oil, sit with the pot in front of at about chest level, bend over it so that your nose is above it and pop a light towel (like a tea towel) over your head - this creates a steam like environment for you to inhale the essential oils to help clear your nose. Simple saline nasal sprays are also great, and drinking clear hot fluids to help the mucous run more freely.
Herbs and Supplements
Of course, there are also various herbs and supplements that can provide extra support. One of my favourites is a tissue salt combination called Comb T, which many of my clients will already be familiar with. This clever little blend of Ferr Phos and Kali Mur can be used to help prevent colds as well as boost your body’s fighting ability if you do come down with one.
I think we all know about Vitamin C and there are so many other herbs and supplements that I could discuss, but please reach out and ask me for specific recommendations and I can tailor them to suit your individual needs.
I've saved the best for last
Look after your soul: be kind to yourself; spend time doing things that lift you up; get outside when you can - even if it's just to a local park, there's nothing like fresh air, sunshine and time in nature to put things back in perspective; talk to friends who make you feel good; start a gratitude practice if you don't already have one ie every day think of five things you're grateful for; do something nice for someone else. And reduce your screen time (unless you're only watching cute dog or cat videos)! All of these things will help boost your 'feel goodedness' and boosting that will boost your immunity.