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Supporting Your Autumn & Winter Health Through Nutrition

This Wednesday, our new nutrition specialist, Dr Rosamund Yoxall, gave a free workshop on Autumnal & Winter Health. Here are the take-home points from the session for anyone who was unable to come.

The gradual progression of the warm summer months into autumn and winter is certainly a beautiful time in Devon, with the blazing colours of the turning trees, misty mornings and abundant harvest produce. But in terms of our health, it can also be associated with an increased feeling of fatigue and sometimes even low mood and weight gain – not to mention the risk of catching a cough, cold or the flu.

So to help support your health, energy and immune function over the next few months, here are 4 key nutrition tips;

1. Support your friendly bacteria

Nourish your beneficial gut microbiota (the ‘good bugs’), which we now know to be important in supporting immune function, by eating a widely varied diet packed full of fibre, especially;

  • Onions, garlic, leeks; perfect as a base for soups & warming stews.
  • Jerusalem artichokes – why not try this recipe for Jerusalem Artichoke, Sage & Hazelnut soup http://ameliafreer.com/jerusalem-artichoke-sage-hazelnut-soup
  • Underripe (slightly green) bananas
  • Legumes; beans, pulses, chickpeas, lentils etc. This is a tasty recipe for Puy Lentil Stew; http://ameliafreer.com/puy-lentil-stew
  • Whole, unprocessed grains; porridge is a lovely start to the day and is a cheap, quick and simple whole grain to include in your diet.

2. Include some sources of zinc

Whilst many of us may know that vitamin C is beneficial for immune function, it is also important to make sure we are getting enough zinc in our diets too, to help fight off any minor infections coming our way.

I always feel it is better to boost nutrients from food sources first rather than relying on supplements.  Try incorporating some zinc-rich foods, such as shellfish, nuts and seeds, beef, lamb and fermented breads (such as a really good quality sourdough) into your diet on a regular basis.

This Crunchy Nut & Seed Granola, for example, would be a particularly tasty way of boosting your zinc intake;

http://ameliafreer.com/crunchy-nut-seed-granola

3. Watch your alcohol intake

For some, it can be a little too easy to overindulge on alcohol during those long, dark wintery evenings. But just as a reminder, the recommended alcohol limit per week is now 14 units, for both men and women. This is the equivalent of 1-2 small glasses per evening; but ideally, I tend to recommend aiming for no more than 10 units per week, consumed alongside a meal, and try to keep two days completely alcohol free too.

4. Don’t skimp on your vegetables!

It is so simple in the summer to throw together a salad, which might easily contain 3 or 4 portions of vegetables in a single meal. But if you are anything like me, I tend to want warm meals in the colder months – which does mean a little bit more time spent preparing and cooking vegetables.

Try to aim for a minimum of 5-a-day, but in an ideal world, it is even better to aim for 9-a-day; with at least 5 portions of vegetables in there if you can manage! It’s absolutely fine to work up to this slowly though, adding just one extra portion a day for a couple of weeks before adding in the next.

Soups and stews, vegetarian curries, batch-cooking and huge trays of roasted vegetables (peppers, mushrooms, onions, courgette, butternut squash etc.) are all simple ways to pack your diet full of health-giving vegetables, without a great deal of extra effort.

This Green Soup & Cashew Cream is a particular winter favourite of mine;

http://ameliafreer.com/super-green-soup-with-cashew-cream

Or your could try this delicious Chicken, Kale & Bean Stew too; http://ameliafreer.com/chicken-kale-bean-stew

Dr Rosamund Yoxall will be running nutritional workshops on topical and commonly asked topics on approximately a monthly basis. If you have any burning questions, or areas you would love to hear covered, do drop us an email with your suggestions!

For more information on Dr Yoxall and her new clinics at the HealthHub, take a look at her website www.sagehealthnutrition.com, or to make an appointment enquiry, email info@sagehealthnutrition.com.

Recipe credits to Amelia Freer.