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Preparing for Winter

The best Naturopathic approach to supporting our Immune function as we prepare for winter is an all-inclusive plan involving diet, lifestyle, stress reduction, exercise, nutritional supplements, herbal medicines and a positive outlook.

Firstly lets take a look at what depletes our immune function. Stressful circumstances, lack of sleep and poor nutritional status have a powerful impact on our immune function, as does smoking and high sugar diets – intake of 100g of refined sugar such as sweets / honey / bottled fruit juice / alcohol – depresses immune cell activity by 50% for up to 4 hours after ingestion, leaving us more susceptible to infection.

Taking the following measures will both boost your immune function and your vitality during the winter months:

• Eating regular meals
• Choosing a variety of colourful fruits and vegetables daily
• Opting for whole grains, raw nuts, legumes, seeds and cold water fish
• Getting adequate sleep and regular exercise
• Having a relaxed and positive mental attitude & laughing lots
• Taking a daily high-potency multi vitamin/mineral supplement
• Healthy gut flora, good digestion and avoidance of dietary allergens are imperative to optimal immunity, as more than 70% of our immune system directly surrounds the gut!

In addition, a large amount of research shows that garlic has immune enhancing properties and is antiviral, even at one clove per day. A daily fresh vegetable juice (eg. carrot, celery, ginger, parsley, beets, apple, lemon) is a wonderful supplement to a basic good diet, adding vitamins A, C, minerals and antioxidants.

Numerous herbal medicines – Indian, Chinese and Western – are available to naturally support our Immune function, but be wary of over-the-counter products and self prescribing as many products are ineffective due to quality, manufacturing and dosage issues. For valuable advice, speak to a qualified Naturopath or Herbalist.

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The Importance of Nutrition

Every day you make choices about food, and these choices have a direct impact on the health of your body. Diet has a profound influence on your short and long term health, and can contribute to the onset, prevention and management of many chronic diseases. Nutrition is the study of how food nourishes the body. The nutrients on food become the building blocks of our cells, hormones, enzymes, neurotransmitters, organs and body systems. Nutrients are also necessary for the growth and repair of the body, and are absolutely fundamental to the maintenance of homeostasis or ‘healthy-harmony’.

A Naturopathic Nutritionist may define Health as:

“A fully integrated state in which all bodily, mental and spiritual functions are operating in an optimum manner and are harmoniously co-ordinated.; the natural defence systems are operating completely; the nutrient intake is complete and balanced; the mind is free from tensions, repressions, conflicts; the spirit is active, awake and co-ordinates the body-mind within the mighty laws of nature.”

Relatively few people are truly healthy: many exist in a substandard state, reflecting that it is our lifestyles, eating habits, excesses and stresses that bring us into a state of imbalance. Many factors have a negative impact on our access to nutrients within our foods, such as changes in farming methods, depleted soils, processing, food storage, micro waving, eating-on-the-run, poor digestion and assimilation, caffeine/alcohol/nicotine intake, and the list continues!

state of balance, supporting you to achieve and maintain optimum health.

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Food for Thought

Food is one of life’s greatest sources of pleasure, and eating the right kind of foods and preparing them in the healthiest possible way is essential to wellbeing. It is all too easy to resort to heavily processed, nutrient poor, calorie dense ‘convenience’ foods within our hectic lifestyles. These foods are often loaded with unhealthy fats, added sugars and salt, and an array of other unwanted substances.

As health professionals become more aware of scientifically proven links between diet and disease, it is becoming increasingly imperative that we consider the quality of the foods we are ingesting: if you have a well-nourished body, you will not only cope better with all aspects of daily life, but will improve your resistance to disease and automatically reduce your stress levels.

Improving the quality of fuels we put into our system is all about getting back to basics and eating food as close to how nature intended, ie. The less wrapping, the better! It’s about eating fresh, minimally processed foods with an abundance of colourful fruit and veggies, whole grains, legumes, and small servings of raw nuts and seeds, small deep-sea fish and lean, organic red meat, with a focus on variety for maximal nutrient and phytochemical intake.

Nutrient content aside, please consider the vitality in the foods we ingest, and how this life force may be passed onto us when we choose live foods such as fresh and raw fruit and veggies, sprouts and fresh culinary herbs! Including a weekly organic F&V shop or delivery has the triple advantage of minimizing pesticide exposure, improving mineral content of foods from richer soils, and supporting earth-aware, sustainable farming methods. In addition to this, most people can taste the richer flavours, and organic foods offer increased vitality and energy to us.

Simpler cooking methods such as lightly steaming or a quick stir-fry are optimal cooing methods, so as not to overcook or destroy water soluble vitamins, enzymes & phytochemicals in the foods. Including good quality fats (omega 3 & omega 6’s) and minimizing saturated fats and trans-fatty-acids from animal products and pastries/cakes/biscuits is also a key factor in improving the quality of our food intakes.

The perfect balance in diet is unique for each person. To find balance, it is important to know ones own individual needs, the properties of foods, the best preparation methods, and to choose a broad range of high quality foods. When a good attitude and ample exercise are combined, one finds no limit to total health: healthy body, healthy mind and healthy spirit.

It is recommended that roughly 30% of our total energy intake comes from fat: which on average translates to 55-85g/day. More importantly than amount of fat, however, is the type of fat we ingest. Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids (polyunsaturated fats) are known as Essential Fatty Acids because they are essential to the health of every cell in our body.

Omega 3’s are found in oily fish such as sardines, mackerel, salmon and trout; in flaxseed oil and meal, & in walnuts. Omega 6’s are found in nuts and seeds and their oils. Monounsaturated Fatty acids such as in olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds are always best raw, and extra-virgin olive oil is great for cooking due to it’s stability.

Other types of fats such as Saturated fats from animal sources should be minimized, including fats from red meat, poultry, full cream milk & yoghurt, cheese, butter, cream etc. Trans Fatty Acids should be avoided where possible, ie from cakes, pastries, biscuits, croissants.

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