Winter is here and with it the bugs that lay us low. Now is the time to fuel the fires of your ever-vigilant immune system. By Lani Lopez
Comfort food is a one of winter’s compensations. For foods that boost our immunity,
fill up on vegetables, especially green leafy veges, fruits, lean meats and good carbohydrates – especially wholegrains and kumara.
Legumes are potent immunity food and ideal for slow-cooked stew, casserole and curry. Load your dishes up with coriander, ginger, turmeric and garlic.
Avoid refined sugar, it can impair the function of virus-killing white blood cells. In small amounts make honey and fruit your source of sweetness. When baking I use a natural
sweetener called Stevia, available at health-stores.
Keep some dark (70-85% cacao) chocolate on hand just in case. It’s low on refined sugar and a healthier treat.
Our digestive tract is lined with antibody producing immune cells so keep them
healthy with a live, probiotic-rich yoghurt. This is especially important after a course of antibiotics which strip out healthy gut flora. Your caffeine kick isn’t worth the cost of a week’s cold or flu, cut back. You don’t have to go cold turkey, just ease back on caffeine and cut out sugary, caffeinated soft drinks.
Stress also impairs immunity. When you’re under pressure, don’t stress, take action; Stop, breathe and relax. Even a minute breathing deeply a day is a powerful preventive health measure. This, combined with the worldwide wisdom of cold fighting cuisine below, should keep you fighting fit.
Cold Fighting Cuisine
Echinacea, native to the North America Plains, has been used by the Native Americans for centuries leading to its global fame. It is a blood cleanser which increases properdin, a natural chemical to activate immune defence mechanisms against viruses and bacteria.
Slaves building the Great Pyramids were given garlic daily. The Romans fed it to their soldiers and it remains an excellent immune boost. Garlic contains several helpful compounds, including allicin, a natural antibiotic.
Onion is a relative of garlic with similar properties. Not especially social, but effective. To help keep the great vineyards of France well tended in winter pruning, onions,
warming and nutritious, are a workers’ staple, especially in that famous French
Onion soup. Use garlic, onions and leeks in your winter cooking.
The English Sage:
A traditional healing herb used in southern England, Sage is renowned as a
treatment for colds and flu – especially effective when combined with yarrow.
Being English, naturally it makes for a fine tea.
Olive leaf extract, nature’s most potent antibiotic, has been used to sustain healthy immunity and attack illness and infections in central and southern Europe for centuries. Olive leaf’s powers are praised wherever the olive tree grew.
Sometimes used as a tincture or a balm it is best taken internally for immunity.
Asia’s Wellness Weed :
Containing nearly a dozen antiviral compounds, ginger is anti-septic, antioxidant, soothes sore throats and relieves pain.
Across Asia ginger is seen in text and art, and has been used for centuries as a balm, inhalant, tea, condiment and ingredient in foods, as a restorative and preventive.
More than just a national dish, Kimchi – the potent mix of fermented vegetables, garlic, peppers and fragrant fish oil – is promoted as a cure-all by Koreans to be consumed immediately a cold or flu strikes. The same applies for it’s near relative Sauerkraut in Germany.
Man’s best friend:
Cuppas with a twist:
Lani’s Lemon, Apple Cider Vinegar, Cayenne and Manuka Tea
Take one dessertspoon of apple cider vinegar, a pinch of cayenne pepper, juice of
1/2 lemon, one teaspoon of Manuka honey, and combine in a cup.
Add boiling water, stir and enjoy.
It is an intense drink but effective and I love it it. One cup every hour or two.
Preventive Chamomile, Cinnamon and Sage Tea
With chamomile tea leaves add cinnamon stick and 2 – 3 sage leaves to a pot of boiling water, leave to steep at least 15 minutes.
If using a chamomile tea bag, first put in sage leaves and 1/3 of the boiling water.
Cover for five minutes, then add the chamomile tea bag and remaining boiling water. Steep to your taste.
Lani Lopez BHSc AdvDipNatHealth is a naturopath, clinical nutritionist and
top-selling author. Founder of lanilopez.com find her and talk wellbeing on