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January Wellbeing With Emer Walsh – Part 3: Spice Up Your Life For Winter Immunity!

Our January Wellbeing Series with Nutritionist Emer Walsh. Find out more about this series, and catch up on Part 1: ‘Feed Your Body To Replenish After A Hectic December’ & Part 2: ‘Staples To Ease The Winter Sniffles & Blues’ 

Herbs & Spices for Winter Immunity

SPICE UP YOUR LIFE FOR WINTER IMMUNITY!

‘In ancient Eastern medicine, it has always been accepted that adding a little spice helps to warm or ‘rev up’ up the body and improve overall function of our vital systems’

Are you someone who associates herbs and spices with the row of ancient little glass bottles decorating some forgotten shelf in your cupboard? This is often what happens – we can steer away from the seasoning collection because we aren’t always sure just what we should be using – or maybe we associate the ‘exotic’ ingredients with special recipes, rather than a part of our everyday cooking.

But even if you don’t have a palate for the spicier end of the spectrum, the benefit of turning to herbs and spices on a regular basis is worth it when it comes to helping to build up our body’s immunity over the winter months.

Step up your game when it comes to making your meals even tastier and healthier by getting into the habit of adding a whole host of herbs and spices! Get familiar with your seasonings by trying to add a little to your regular meals. Here’s a list of my go-to’s for winter:

A LITTLE SPICE TO MAKE ALL THINGS NICE

Herbs & Spices For Winter Immunity

Like all foods, ensure you are stocked up with quality herbs and spices. So, let’s talk staples to add to your trolley:

Onions & Garlic:
Garlic For Winter Immunity
You don’t have to rely solely on dried powders when incorporating spice into your meals: add these reliable FIBROUS favourites for making food taste great! There’s a reason they will always show up on recommended lists: not only do they improve depth of flavour & add bulk to meals (the versatile hero-staple of batch-cooking – see part 1), they also provide prebiotic fibre to feed your friendly gut bacteria, and they can help improve immune function.

You might remember they made a star appearance on my last blog, where I recommended them to help fortify your body against the winter sniffles and told you that Garlic contains active antiviral properties (allicin)

Cayenne Pepper, Cumin & Paprika:
These are some of my personal favourites to add to dinners/lunches! 
Not only do they add a more invigorating flavour, they also have a delicious little kick! If you are not a fan of spicy food: try adding just a pinch to ensure you can still benefit without sacrificing taste. (Just like in a restaurant, you can decide on the scale of mild to hot, according to your own needs!)

Ginger, Nutmeg, Cardamom, Cinnamon & Cloves:
Make any sweet meal taste even better, by adding any of these spices to your oatmeal or use in home baked goods. (Have you tried the delicious Banana-Boost Cinnamon Toast with berries yet??)

Cinnamon is a tasty & beneficial alternative to a sugar sprinkle – you can shake a little cinnamon over your coffee or dessert and not only will it satisfy a sweet tooth, it also works to SUPPORT BLOOD SUGAR levels.

Cinnamon also works well in savoury dishes if you balance it out by adding turmeric.

Turmeric:
This is a spice traditionally used in Chinese and Indian medicine for over 4000 years as a ‘cure-all’, but it is now more popular world
wide. As research continues on this beautiful golden-coloured spice, scientists are continuing to discover more about the incredibly powerful effects it has. The main active ingredient in Turmeric iscurcumin’, which has been shown to help combat several conditions – including inflammation and heart disease. One of my favourite things is that it acts as a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent with anti bacterial and anti-fungal properties. Seldom a day goes past where I don’t add Turmeric to one of my meals because of its multitude of benefits!

📌 There are lots of different ways you can add FIBRE89 Cinnamon/Ginger and increase both your prebiotic fibre (to feed gut microbes) and reap the natural benefits of these tasty spices: as a soothing hot drink or added to breakfast porridge/quinoa – a handy way to give your breakfast some prebiotic heft🔷.

 

“DON’T FORGET HERBS FOR ADDED FLAVOUR & NUTRITION!”

Rosemary, Thyme & Oregano:
These well-known herbs can be added to soups and stews for enhancing the depth and taste, and to give your gut the green plant-based foods it loves. They also offer some body-boosting natural benefits for winter:

Thyme can help when you have a respiratory infection, as it helps expel mucous and is a natural antiseptic.

Rosemary is antioxidant rich – full of anti-inflammatory compounds that helps with blood circulation.

Irish Sea Vegetables – Sweet Kelp & Carrageen:
Sweet Kelp and Carrageen are two of my favourites. Native seaweeds which are exceptionally rich in nutrients and antioxidants. A lovely addition to a winter dish, they also act as a natural thickener, so are often sprinkled on stews and soups.

“A great source of iodine, which is crucial for optimal thyroid function, but like any of these powerful foods with medicinal properties”

📌 Be sensible in your consumption with these two: little and often. A good guide is 2 table spoons, three times a week.

🔷 Editor’s notes:

  • Check out the recipe page for quick, easy and delicious ideas. All Circle of Light drinks are diabetic-friendly and provide a natural sweetness – thanks to their staple ingredient, inulin (a prebiotic fibre extracted from the chicory root). However, some recipe ideas may suggest sweet ingredients, but thanks to the natural flavours of our drinks, they can be excluded if needed. Any ideas listed on our recipe page – that are not mentioned in The January Wellbeing Blog Series – were not created by Emer Walsh, and do not serve as general nutritionist recommendations – rather as inspiring ways to incorporate our gut-nourishing drinks into your daily snacks and help you increase fibre intake. 
  • You can find out more about Inulin & prebiotic fibre (alongside research papers), on our science page.

START TO BUILD A NATURAL HEALTH CABINET IN YOUR HOME:

As well as the tips above, I have a special cabinet in my kitchen which is host to different formulations that I have on stand-by if needed when I feel the sniffles or a cold coming on:

Echinacea:
Helps the body to fight off infection and may be one of the most well-known home remedies for cold and flu.

Echinacea might work best when taken at the onset of symptoms and continuing while you have symptoms.

Elderberries:
Renowned for their ability to prevent upper respiratory infections, as well as to shorten the duration of a cold or flu. They are made into a syrup that is loaded with flavonoids and antioxidants.

In addition to being good for you, Elderberry also tastes delicious! You can purchase ready-made Elderberry syrup, or you can make your own at home.

“NB: I always encourage people to build a good relationship with their GP and pharmacist. If you don’t have a local GP/Pharmacist – find one you can trust. Having a supportive health care team in your corner is so comforting and a vital part of maintaining the healthiest you into your future”

In the same breath, I cannot emphasise enough how important is is to take self-responsibility – taking control of your own health and wellbeing is one of the most empowering things you can do!

I think of food and lifestyle as a form of healthcare, so when I look after myself – and help educate people to look after themselves – I feel like I am helping on a broader level: implementing a healthy diet and lifestyle which can result in less hospital admissions and reduce the amount of time in the doctors waiting room – who doesn’t want that??

That’s all for this week… Next week, in my final blog, I will be giving you tips on how to incorporate all these little changes into a manageable and rewarding routine that will help keep you healthy throughout the seasons and keep your body nourished!

For now, I’ll leave you with a reminder to check back in with Part 1 & Part 2 of this blog series to help you when writing your weekly shopping list!

Note: This blog is for Educational purposes only – please contact your GP with any health concerns you may have questions about.

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Note: This blog is for Educational purposes only – please contact your GP with any health concerns you may have questions about.