So with Winter on it’s way, let’s countdown my Top 5 Tips for Staying Healthy this Winter ….and EVERY Winter!
We all know that the best way to maintain good health in ANY season is to eat well. Sounds easy enough ….or is it?
In today’s modern, industrial society nutrition has become a little confusing and money is the cause! You really can’t sell a product without Advertising. Let’s look at the ways marketing attempts to ‘teach’ us what’s good for us. We have Low Fat, Low Carb, High Protein, Heart Foundation tick of approval, High Fibre, Added Calcium, Added Essential Fatty Acids, Antioxidants ………………the list goes on. Now forget ALL of this!
Modern society has fallen into the trap of Nutritionism. Nutritionism is where all of our foods are broken down into a list of essential vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, antioxidants etc and it makes the lay person feel as though they are unqualified to make decisions around healthy nutritious foods and that they need EXPERTS to tell them how to eat. Unfortunately, the ‘experts’ that have leapt in to help ‘guide’ you in your food choices are not experts at all…..they are Marketing Managers who don’t know the first thing about nourishing foods. What they do know is that their marketing campaigns must coerce the public into buying their products in order to increase the company’s sales and to keep their jobs.
I want you to remember just one thing when making food choices: If it needs a marketing budget, then it’s probably not food!
So what and how should we eat? Eat like your Granny used to!
- Lots of fresh fruit and vegetables.
- Bone Broths (aka stocks).
Why Bone Broths??
Stock contains minerals in a form the body can absorb easily—not just calcium but also magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur and trace minerals. It contains the broken down material from cartilage and tendons–stuff like chondroitin sulphates and glucosamine, now sold as expensive supplements for arthritis and joint pain.
It contains Gelatin which has been used as a therapeutic agent going back as far as the ancient Chinese dynasties. Gelatin has been found to be useful in the treatment of a long list of diseases including peptic ulcers, tuberculosis, diabetes, muscle diseases, infectious diseases such as colds and flu, jaundice and cancer.
Grandma always knew–that broth made from bones is a great remedy, a tonic for the sick, a strengthener for athletes, a digestive aid, and a healing elixir. It can even repair dental cavities and strengthen your teeth.
If you’re vegetarian, you can still make a fabulously rich and nourishing broth for your soups, stews and curries. In the place of bones, you need to use tough seaweeds such as Kombu and a selection of vegetables such as onions, carrots, celery and parsley. Your broth won’t contain gelatin but will contain lots of essential minerals as well as some agar (gel) from the kombu.
- Soups, Stews, Casseroles and Curries.
The best things about these warming meals:
- that beautiful stock/broth that you used as your base is full of vitamins and minerals in liquid form so it is easily absorbed by the body,
- Tender meats that melt in your mouth,
- Herbs and spices to warm your entire body down to your very soul,
- ONE POT for easy clean up! You can even throw all of your ingredients into the crockpot before work and come home to a ready-made dinner and the aromas filling your home.
Have you ever noticed on days when you feel good and everything is going right, the people around you start to comment on how amazing you are looking? You can feel like this EVERYDAY just by nourishing your cells with amazing food.
- Fish Eggs/Roe
You can also get these nutrients from molluscs such as scallops with the beautiful orange roe left on. Cook them up in a stir fry or lightly sear them in a pan.
My favourite flu fighting remedy, if I’m unlucky enough to succumb, is a chicken soup made with homemade chicken broth, chicken, vegetables, and tons of garlic, ginger and chilli. If it doesn’t make you sweat then nothing will.
4. FOODS TO AVOID
The number one food to avoid (or at the very least reduce drastically) is SUGAR! Bacteria feed on sugar. If you have a high sugar diet then not only are you feeding these little buggers but you are reducing your immune function through dysglycaemia which stresses the body and causes adrenal fatigue.
A nourishing diet doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy yourself. Of course you can! It’s what we do 90% of the time that counts. So if you feel like you want to spoil yourself with a little dark chocolate on a Friday night after work, then do it! Just don’t do it every day and not the whole block!
3. WHOLE FOOD SUPPLEMENTS
- Vitamin D:
Vitamin D can be found naturally in the egg yolks of chickens and the fats of pigs that play in the sun, Wild Alaskan Salmon, Sardines and Cod Liver Oil.
One of our main sources of natural Vitamin D is Sunlight, but here in Canberra, there are substantial portions of the year during which vitamin D cannot be obtained from sunlight. And this is where we need supplementation. I urge you to stay away from synthetic sources of Vitamin D. Think of it this way:
“Scientists can chemically reproduce sea water but when you put fish in this synthetic sea water they die!”
The best supplement for maintaining Vitamin D throughout the Winter is Fermented Cod Liver Oil.
I used to be one of those people that would catch every little cold going around. My first Winter in Canberra was miserable with one cold after another, sometimes with only 1 week between colds. Since taking FCLO, I have had just 2 ‘colds’ that really only consisted of a few days of laryngitis. No sore throat, no snotty nose and not feeling unwell at all.
I prescribe very few supplements to my patients in comparison to most other practitioners. I prefer to let “Food be thy Medicine”. But FCLO is one of my mainstays. Almost all of my patients will be prescribed FCLO at one time or another and 90% keep coming back for more. It really is THAT good.
- Vitamin A
Although vitamin A is necessary for immune function, synthetic vitamin A may actually hinder immunity. Foods are recommended over supplements to ensure an adequate level of the vitamin with foods high in vitamin A including liver, whole milk, fish eggs and egg yolks. Again, if you don’t think you can stomach these foods, then Fermented Cod Liver Oil will be your best source.
- Vitamin C
Vitamin C is available in all RAW fruit and vegetables and is also found in the adrenal glands of all animals (attached to the top of the kidneys). Traditionally fermented Sauerkraut and KimChi are absolutely FULL of Vitamin C and are a mainstay in my Winter diet.
Synthetic sources of Vitamin C are safe and relatively effective but if you are looking for a natural wholefood way of supplementing it, try Rosehip Vital, available in most good health food stores. If you’re in Canberra, try the Allergy Centre in the Jamison Centre, Macquarie.
The second way that I use probiotics is First Aid. When you feel a sore throat coming on, or your sinuses are beginning to clog up or your children’s ears are hurting …these are signs that the balance of beneficial and pathogenic microbes in these areas is out of balance. The pathogenic microbes are getting a toe-hold and leading you down the path of illness. Last thing at night (after your very last sip of water and your teeth have been cleaned), open a probiotic capsule and pour the contents onto yours/or your child’s tongue and then go to sleep. Don’t wash it down. From here, the beneficial bacteria from the probiotic will migrate into the throat, the sinus cavities and the ear canals and begin fighting off any pathogens that might be present.
My favourite probiotic is Biokult. It’s a perfect formulation, it doesn’t need to be refrigerated and it’s the most cost effective probiotic on the international market.
2. HERBAL MEDICINE
It’s best used preventatively but is known to shorten the duration of the common cold.
- Olive Leaf Extract
Again, it is best used preventatively but is known to shorten the duration of the common cold.
The number one tip I can give you for staying healthy each Winter is PLANNING. Yes it’s possibly a little too late now to ‘plan’ for this Winter but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t plenty you can do to keep well for the next 3 – 5 months.
The reason we need to plan for Winter is Vitamin D. The best way to get the most effective Vitamin D is worshipping the sun. I don’t mean laying in it for hours and burning. I mean getting just a little each day (around 20 – 30 minutes) and building up a natural tan. This tan tells you that your Vitamin D levels are adequate.
We all know the Slip Slop Slap campaign. It has been thrown at us since we were babes, ad nauseum. It has done wonderful things to reduce the skin cancer and melanoma rate in the past 30 years…..but it has also given Australia’s population a shocking Vitamin D deficiency. We Westerners don’t do things by halves. Instead of reducing our sun exposure, we have completely shunned it, covering up with hats, UV rated clothing, avoiding the sun at all costs in the middle of the day and smothering ourselves in chemicals that actually do more to cause skin cancers. Every single act reduces our ability to obtain Vitamin D from the sun.
Yes, we can take supplements but our skin was made to manufacture Vitamin D in its most efficient form.
So how exactly do we plan for the Winter?? Starting from the end of January:
- Get 20 – 30 minutes of sunshine each day…..no sunscreens, no UV rated clothing and not through the window. Glass cuts out the UVB rays, only allowing through the UVA rays. Unfortunately, UVA rays are known to deplete Vitamin D and the UVB rays create Vitamin D.
- Start supplementing with or increase your supplementation of Fermented Cod Liver Oil. You want your Vitamin D levels to be more than adequate coming into Winter.
Here is a very basic but delicious recipe for bone broth or stock and in the coming weeks I’m going to share with you lots of my family’s favourite winter meals, all containing this delicious super food.
Generic but Delicious Bone Broth
- 2kg Bones (I use a variety and it usually varies from week to week. They can be beef, lamb, chicken and all different cuts.)
- Cooked Leftover Bones (Save them up from your meals during the week. Again a whole variety.)
- 1 Onion (Cut in half, don't bother peeling it.)
- 2 Carrots (roughly chopped.)
- 1/2 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
- Cold Filtered Water (enough to cover all of the ingredients.)
Throw all of the ingredients into the pot and leave it to sit for 30 minutes before turning it on. This allows the vinegar time to begin drawing nutrients out of the bones.
Bring your stock up to the boil and as it is coming up to the boil, begin to scoop the foam off the top. This is all of the impurities so you don't really want that incorporated into your stock.
Reduce your heat to low and simmer gently for a minimum of 12 hours but preferably 24 hours or more. I switch my stock off during the night and then turn it back on in the morning.
Cool the soup for several hours. At this point some people like to scrape the fat off the top and that's ok ....but I like to leave mine there. There's too much nutrition in it to throw it in the bin.
Once cooled, strain out the veges and bones and then scoop the stock into containers and store in the freezer until you need it. Note Making stock doesn't have to be an exact science. I've learnt so much about making delicious stocks and also lots about being frugal from Shannon Hayes' new book,"Long Way on a Little". I save up bones from meals during the week (some cooked, some not) and I save all of my vegetable peelings too. I have a bag of saved bones in the freezer and a container of saved vege peelings in the fridge. At the end of the week, I bung them all in a pot with some extra bought soup bones, apple cider vinegar and the water and away I go.