Winter Wellness 101

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Most of us have heard about the foods we should eat in winter to help keep the immune system strong and healthy…ready to battle any colds floating about and the flu.

Below I share some of my favourite winter nutrition points.

citrusfruitsCitrus fruits
Like orange, mandarin, kiwifruit, lemon and pineapple. These are all great fruits for vitamin C nourishment and also for keeping ‘bad bugs’ from overpopulating the gut and affecting immune defences.

The gut lining is the first line of immune defence in our bodies and some of the compounds in citrus fruits, especially lemon, are natural cleansers. As the gut is also linked to our skin, this also means healthier, clearer, more glowing skin.

Make it a daily habit to have lemon in warm water first thing in the morning as the best wake up brew for your immune system. This part may sound odd but dentists now recommend that to protect the enamel of your teeth, you should drink this brew through a straw.

This is not meant to create a fear of drinking lemon in your water as it has amazing benefits for your gut, but to bring awareness of what you can do as a preventive measure, especially if the structure of your teeth is already compromised (ie you get cavities a lot).

warmingfoodsWarming/circulatory foods
These help keep your core temperature up so you are not expending precious energy or nutrients to keep yourself warm.

For example; ginger, chilli, capsicum, curry and paprika are all really good warming/circulatory ingredients.
When combined with earthy foods like kumara or parsnip (ie in a soup or stir fry) you can generate some nice warmth within you. Another good circulatory food is beetroot which contains large amounts of natural nitrates.

This creates vasodilation for your blood vessels, so they expand and blood gets sent around your body distributing nutrients and oxygen/iron.

Great for keeping all systems functioning optimally. Foods like broccoli and beetroot are also superb for helping to clear the liver of imbalanced hormones and to aid proper thermoregulation of the liver which acts as our internal hot water bottle.

greensLeafy green veges
High in B vitamins, zinc and magnesium and great for keeping the metabolism running as it should.
This means proper energy is being created to keep your vitality high, making it less likely to get those winter blues.

Also high in vitamin A and a variety of phytonutrients (nutrients only found in plants) which act as antioxidants keeping cells protected from free radical damage, maintaining the integrity of the tissues of different organs in your system.

chaiteaChai tea
Either naturally spiced ones (or the ones in tea bags) with ginger, black pepper, cinnamon and cloves. This is a great warming alternative to tea and coffee to help avoid too much caffeine intake.

I also wish to open up to some greater thinking; helping you to understand that whether or not we get sick is not only to do with the food or lack of nutrient-dense food we consume, but also what or who we give our energy away too.

What do I mean by this exactly?
Well, have you ever been around someone who is no positive Pete, in fact they are a bit of a negative Nancy. You feel yourself getting flatter and flatter, whereas before you were quite energetic, bubbly and generally in a happy mood. Unconsciously this person has fed off your positive energy so they walk away feeling so much better and you are left feeling drained. This can also happen when we give another person (or a stressful situation from which we feel we cannot see a way out.) the power to manipulate or have control over us and our life. There are many major and minor ways that this dynamic can occur between two people (or between us and a situation in our lives).

In the situation mentioned above, you have given your energy away to another person. This is because we are not taught how to protect our vital energy, or to have strong but loving boundaries with people. What I mean by this is, you have to be careful how much you give away to ensure you balance your energy with having enough for yourself to remain a happy, functioning human being.

Whether or not you agree with what I am saying here, all of us can be affected by this if we let down our boundaries or are not aware of who or what takes this energy from us.

This creates a massive decrease in self-love, inner strength and self-power. Also creating mental and emotional stress within the body, leaving us with decreased functioning of the digestive system, liver and hormone levels (especially sex hormones). When these systems are out of balance, it is far easier to become more susceptible to colds and flu (because our first port of call for our immune defences are in our gut), when our energy drops and our happiness decreases.

More people are finding that there is something they are missing in terms of their health and wellness and how to create balance in their lives. This missing link is to not only focus on the physical aspects of health and wellness, like food and exercise, but to look beyond and see what other aspects of your life are affecting your health and vitality.

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