Every change of season Fitbynature runs a Sugar Intervention: we all need to intervene our sugar, but it’s also an opportunity to intervene our habits, not least our bad ones, but also those that just seem to turn up seasonally: allergies, sniffles, asthma, lethargy. That with change comes change seems like a pretty good idea, especially if we hit it head on and not just accept what it’ll do to us as it always does each season.
Those of you who know my story realize why I firmly believe that the sick ones are the ones that never get sick. How many times would you get sick a year? 3-4? Well you’re actually healthy. Um, how can getting sick actually mean you’re healthy? Your immune system needs a workout as much as the rest of us. And likewise, being sick too often isn’t the same kind of exercising; it’s over training and is pretty unhealthy for you. So where do we draw the line? The truth is that like so many things in our body, nothing is either good or bad, just in or out of balance.
I love the change of season, summer in Australia brings the warm weather but I love the afternoon nor’easters that so very often turn to a southerly buster, the spring cool mornings that warm up to the brightest and nicest smelling times of year, autumn’s falling leaves and cool breezes, and winter’s complete flip into a cold we forget we get. But all the changes too bring sniffles to loathe. The good news is we can fight back with seasonal whole foods. A healthy diet lays the foundations for a happy immune system, the best way to support your internal defense forces.
To fuel immunity, we need to ensure we pile our plate first and foremost with:
Whole, not processed, foods – this seems a simple thing to say, but so many immune issues, from seasonal allergies all the way to heart disease, which are both inflammatory issues, can be sourced to a diet of processed foods and all the nutritional deficiency involved in our body trying to digest and use the new fangled ingredients. They actually cost our body more than they give.
1. Good quality proteins – every process in our body needs them, especially our immune system, which needs a pool of amino acids on hand to function properly. We can get these from:
- Grass fed meat and dairy, nuts and seeds (isoleucine transports oxygen around the body)
- Free range pork, cheese, nuts and spirulina (valine maintains immune cells and tissues)
- Beef, almonds, seafood, walnuts and eggs (leucine regulates immune responses and keeps nasties out by maintaining skin integrity)
- Red meat, dairy, seafood, pumpkin seeds, eggs and peas (lysine makes antibodies to target specific invaders)
- Cheese, poultry, red meat (histidine manages allergic reactions)
- Almonds, flaxseeds and tahini (phenyalanine produces immune messengers)
- Fish, beefs, eggs, tahini (threonine maintains thymus health, a major organ in immunity)
- Flaxseed and turkey (tryptophan has anti inflammatory function and aids sleep
2. Good quality carbs – no simple, refined or processed carbs. This is the heart of our Sugar Intervention, and also the key to longevity which is low blood insulin. Stick to:
- Fresh and leafy greens
- Whole fruit (try and limit to a piece a day)
3. Healthy fats. More on this in another blog. It’s huge!
4. Stay hydrated – ½ your body weight in ounces a day (or your body weight x 0.325 in liters) with 1.5 times the quantity of any diuretic beverage you have added to this total.
5. Perhaps most important to fit on your plate is good digestion, which is why this season’s Intervention is all about Digestive Strengthening. Because it turns out microbes and bad bacteria that cyclically cause us ‘seasonal allergies’ and flu are just proteins too and we have to digest them as we would any protein or foreign food-borne bacteria. (ACV activates carb and protein digestion, beets aid fat digestion, and eating relaxed and never on the run or when you’re upset is the single biggest digestive cheat you could apply).
While more metaphorically important to fit on your plate, regular exercise (or activity or adventure) as well as a good night’s sleep, are key to a happy and thankful immune system.