Read the latest news from the World of ESPA – Winter-proof Your Body
Louise Westra – Naturopath, ESPA Life
As the last of the ‘Indian Summer’ (if we can call it that) fades, the ever-changing weather can throw up more problems than just knowing what jacket and shoes to wear. Our body becomes more susceptible to dry skin, colds, coughs, flu and, in some cases, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
We spoke to Louise Westra, Naturopath at ESPA Life at Gleneagles, on how we can best help protect and nurture our bodies from the outside in. Here she shares her expert advice on immune system-boosting foods, as well as her recipe recommendations to ensure health and happiness this season.
Sweet potato, pumpkin and carrot are all in season, are versatile, taste delicious in soups and casseroles, and all contain naturally high levels of beta carotene, which the body converts to Vitamin A as and when it needs to. Vitamin A is important this time of year because it helps protect the linings of the body (such as the mucous membranes) which, during the colder months, come under increased pressure from the heightened levels of airborne germs.
I’d also recommend using garlic, chilli and ginger liberally in your winter meals. Not only do they help enhance the flavour of your dish and provide instant internal warmth, but they also help shift any mucous fluid out of the body – taking with it the bacteria, viruses and dead cell wastes.
Fenugreek is also very good, as it’s a natural decongestant. Steep the seeds in hot water to make a herbal tea or, if the taste is a little too much for you, try the seeds in soups and casseroles.
Here’s a good hearty soup recipe that blends many of the above winter health-helpers, great for preventing the dreaded lurgy… when I was studying to be a Naturopath, this was fondly named my ‘kick-a-germ juice’!
• 3 cloves garlic
• 1 medium strength chilli
• 1 tablespoon fenugreek seeds
• 1 medium sized onion
• 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
• Any seasonal vegetables, chopped to the size you like
Cook until all the vegetables soft and tender.
Add fresh lemon or lime juice to serve.
A word of caution… be prepared to spend the night sweating!
If it’s simply too late though and that cold has got the better of you, let your body rest and try this quick and simple, yet very effective juice – it provides maximum nutrients with minimum effort:
• 2 medium carrots
• 1 medium celery stalk
• 1/2 medium cucumber
1 medium apple, such as Gala or Fuji
• 1 x 1/2-inch piece fresh ginger root
Push all ingredients through juicer. Stir well and serve right away.
During the colder months it is tempting to devour a roast dinner and apple crumble and custard every evening before you nestle down under the duvet. Yet maintaining a healthy diet is still incredibly important, with plenty of good fats, vitamins and minerals. A healthy diet doesn’t have to leave you hungry though, nor does it need to be boring… the below three snacks do good while tasting great , served on a simple oatcake, flaxseed cracker or pumpernickel:
Roast turkey and avocado
Yes, it may seem the world has gone avocado mad, but it’s for good reason – they’re rich in vitamins B5, B6, B9, C, E & K and also contain more potassium than bananas.
Mozzarella & roasted red peppers with a drizzle of pumpkin seed oil
Rich in beta carotene, pumpkin oil helps the production of Vitamin A, while the almost unpronounceable zeaxanthin found in red pepper is important for eye health.
Salmon and cucumber
Rich in Omega-3 fats, salmon can also support joint cartilage and control the inflammation of the digestive tract. The humble cucumber has also been found to contribute to a reduced risk of certain cancers.
Which recipes will you be trying?