Boost your Immunity and Creativity with a Summer Salad Everyday!
What's the challenge?
Have a different salad with lunch or dinner, everyday for 5 days!
All the nutritional science and evidence in the world will not boost your health unless you can get it on your plate and into your belly!
Join me for a FREE 5-Day Summer Salad Challenge to see how easy it is to create an amazing salad every day for 5 days!
Starting on Monday MAY 25th you will learn the core ingredients you need to make a great salad.
Bring taste, texture and colour to your salads and create the perfect dressing to bring it all together!
We now know that possibly up to 70% of the population will ultimately be hit with the Covid-19 virus. Most people, thankfully will have no symptoms or mild symptoms. More may experience notable symptoms such as high fever, cough and breathing issues, but may remain at home and tough it out with rest, fluids and good nutrition. Unfortunately, those who have underlying health conditions, who may be elderly and/or obese have a much higher risk of developing serious symptoms, requiring hospitalization and specialized medical interventions.
A recent article in the New York Times highlights the link between poor diet and many of the common medical conditions of our time. Conditions such as being overweight, high blood pressure and diabetes are all associated with a low-grade inflammation that saturates the whole body.
In the article Dr. Mozaffarian explains how diet is driving this epidemic of low-grade inflammation. “Covid 19 kills by causing an overwhelming inflammatory response that disables the body’s ability to fight off pathogens.” Those who have weakened immune systems or have existing chronic low-grade inflammation are at the greatest risk of the serious complications of Covid-19.
For many years we have been highlighting the link between diet and chronic, low-grade inflammation. We have seen how a change of diet can reduce this inflammation. This in turn helps us to fight off viruses and other illnesses.
Food Intolerance Testing NOW available as an online service!
All our tests are CE approved Laboratory tests,. For a limited time we are offering to carry out a LOW GRADE INFLAMMATION TEST with your FOOD INTOLERANCE test Free of Charge. This hs-CRP test detects inflammatory marker C-Reactive Protein which at higher than normal levels is associated with many chronic and metabolic diseases. Food Intolerance is a contributor to keeping inflammation switched on. When you know what foods to eliminate, the ones that are identified as true culprits, you can make significant changes to your health and resilience by eliminating these foods.
As we move through this pandemic, we have to look forward to getting back to work, meeting family and friends, and enjoying life without restrictions. We cannot stay in lockdown forever! Diet and nutrition will play the greatest role in building resilience, re-calibrating the immune system to work for us and not fight against us.
Our 93 Food Test and 200 Food Test will include the hs-CRP Low Grade Inflammation Test for a limited time only. See link below for ordering details and if you would like to speak to Irene about this test get in touch by 353861662562
Food Intolerance Tests
€60.00 - €340.00
Don't let food intolerances (sensitivities) make your life a misery! In many cases, conditions such as irritable bowel, asthma, eczema, psoriasis, arthritis, sinusitis and migraine are different manifestations of inflammation caused by food intolerance. Conditions relating to food sensitivity begin when the digestive system is no longer able to process particular foods as they pass down through the digestive tract. The end result is a build up of toxic matter which leads to poor health and low grade inflammation.
Our CE approved Food Intolerance laboratory test takes the guesswork out of trying to pinpoint the culprits in your diet. Once foods are identified and removed from the diet significant improvements can be made.
You will have expert recommendations for dietary changes based on your test results which will keep your diet balanced during an elimination phase and help you replace culprit foods with healthy alternatives.
Food Intolerance Tests are now available online with testing kits sent directly to your home.
Our 93 food sensitivity test checks 93 of the most common foods known to cause intolerance. Each food is tested individually and given an exact IgG antibody score. The IgG antibody score will then guide your elimination diet. The food sensitivity test will provide you will a list of replacement foods.
200 Food Test also available. See full list of Foods tested below.
What size is the Food Intolerance Test Kit?
What is included in the Food Intolerance Test Kit?
Results are available within 2 weeks of receiving your sample. Every client will receive a hard copy of the results and food elimination guidebook with an after-care phone consultation for support.
See lists of foods tested in each of our Food Intolerance Tests https://www.renuanaturalhealth.com/foodintolerancetest.html
As we move on to the next phase in managing the Covid-19 crisis, I couldn't help noticing that almost all guidelines are reactionary and focused on getting the economy going again. There is very little solid information looking at building resilience, but rather building barriers to keep Covid-19 away from us. Understandably, when managing large populations this might be the best approach for governments but at the end of the day, if we do not build our immunity and resilience, we will be in this state for a very long time. I could not help hearing the Talking Heads song, "We're on the Road to Nowhere" in my own head when all the talk of lifting restrictions was on the radio last weekend, so I hit my Spotify, played the song a few times and went with my gut feeling with this article! I hope it serves to give everyone a roadmap to stay grounded while building resilience, just as Nature intends us to do!
Much love to all of you, Irene x
The excitement about the new set of guidelines in the ongoing Coronavirus crisis would have been comical if it were not so serious. We now have a “roadmap” for returning to some sense of normality over the course of the next few months. The overwhelming feeling is of frustration and disillusionment rather than that of optimism, as the Government advises on a terribly slow and gradual ease of restrictions. The proposed “roadmap” spans the whole Summer season, from early Summer, beginning in May to the end of August, which rolls into a period known as Late Summer. Curiously, the timeline for the Covid-19 exit is built on a road that has existed all along, the natural cycle of the Seasons. While it might not have been intentional by our leaders, the true spirit of Summer offers a parallel roadmap we can adapt to, one of health, ease, joy and creativity. The stability and reassurance we need are just a side-step away from us right now in the form of Summer – a time to strengthen our resolve, ignite the fire in our bellies and benefit from a timely emotional lift and nutritional boost to our hearts and minds.
Our urge to gather and congregate outside the boundaries of the homestead is greater during the Summer as the weather and longer daylight hours allow for these activities. It is unfortunate that Covid-19 and the government’s roadmap has put a stop to most of our galivanting and carousing this Summer. This is a great challenge for the whole of society and the consequences may be felt for a long time. However, the greatest Summer gains are felt by just being outside. Fortunately, observing Nature and stocking up on Vitamin D only needs you! Here are a few ideas of going with the flow while keeping your distance – rise early and catch the dawn chorus, gardening, walk barefoot on grass/sand, swim in the sea, practice yoga or tai chi in the back garden, try out mindful walking, simply sit outside and breathe! Think of activities that are more enjoyable and more suitable in the Summertime, now you are following the Parallel Roadmap!
Summer energy, or Fire energy feeds the heart, vascular system and the small intestine. Simply put, seasonal food is most nourishing to these organs and likewise, the organs are more receptive to a seasonal tuning during the Summer season. With the heart and mind so intricately connected through the expansive network of blood vessels and nerve cells, when you feed the heart you nourish the mind. Summer foods are a colourful, juicy, fresh array of fruits and vegetables. Eaten raw or with minimal cooking, Summer foods provide a rich supply of antioxidants and vitamin C supporting our blood and nerve networks, with extra resources to boost our immunity. Most interestingly, these foods often resemble the heart in shape and colour - tomatoes, strawberries, raspberries, beetroot, hawthorn berries - rich red colours and plump round forms. Go boldly along the Parallel Roadmap adding a little fire to your dishes with hot spices such as cayenne, chilli, paprika and pepper which are vasodilators, increasing blood flow around the body and reducing blood pressure. Interestinly, chilli and cayenne are used in anti-viral remedies, as they increase the temperature in the oral and respiratory tracts, hampering the virus’ ability to invade and replicate in our cells. Another good reason to heat things up in the kitchen!
Mother Nature has a sense of humour – while she wants us to create some heat, she also asks that we cool down! Get the right balance by including as many cool green foods as the red and fiery ones. Cucumbers, melon, young leafy greens (baby kale, spinach, rocket, salad leaves) are hydrating to all cells, helping to flush toxins while cooling down inflammation and excess heat. Magnesium, found in the same young greens also help calm down agitated blood vessels and neurons, reducing both physical and emotional stress – another good reason to stay the course.
Our Summer feast is not complete without our oils. Drizzle a cold-pressed olive oil or avocado oil on salads and vegetables for heart-friendly monounsaturated fat. Omega 3 from wild, oily fish or cold-pressed flax seed oil is the lubrication needed to keep the show in the flow, preventing stickiness in the blood and maintaining the fluidity of cell membranes. Omega-3 plays an anti-inflammatory role in all areas of the body and most recently has shown promising results in dampening the cytokine storm responsible for the most serious of complications of Covid-19.
The emotion connected to the Summer, and therefore, the heart is JOY! We often refer to the word “heart” when describing love and joy – “heartfelt”, “bighearted”, “sweetheart”, “heart-warming” and the like. The opposite of Joy is sadness - “heartache”, “disheartened” and “heartbroken”. Even though modern medicine is reluctant to connect emotions with the physical biology of organs, the remnants of a once-held belief is carried through in our language. The Parallel Roadmap cultivates joy through self-care and community spirit. The only obstacle on this road is you, be kind.
Covid-19 has not stopped the arrival of Summer, nor will Autumn or Winter be thwarted. Our resilience depends on our ability to adapt and flow with the least amount of struggle or stress. The Parallel Roadmap is not an alternative route, but more like the ditches that dictate the road’s direction. The opportunity to follow the unwavering and dependable Mother Nature is to be grabbed by both hands, washed for at least 20 seconds in soapy water first, of course!
Written by Irene Ní Fhlannúra. This article appears in the West & Mid Kerry Live, issue 282, May 7th 2020
We are just over six weeks in to our new normal and for many people the change to the day to day living is so great that it may take a while to be accepted as normal. This state of uncertainty is a major trigger for heightened levels of stress and anxiety in the general population and for those who were already experiencing symptoms of stress and anxiety, the new reality may be overwhelming. On top of it all are the endless tales of hidden agendas, conspiracy theories, fake news and doomsday predictions for the future – it makes for a very unsettling time for even the most resilient amongst us. It is in moments like these that the established pillars of good health – exercise, nutrition, relaxation and sleep – provide solid focal points to help us navigate our way through this current crisis and emerge from it stronger and healthier than ever. Nutrition has long been considered as a co-factor to our mental health and well-being and the approach to managing this crisis is no different to others when it comes to choosing good mood food. Now, with everyone spending more time in the kitchen, we have an unexpected opportunity to control the controllable when it comes to our food choices and to optimize our nutrition to support our mental health.
It has long been suggested that the dysregulation of neurotransmitters, which send messages throughout the brain and body, may be a cause for anxiety. These neurotransmitters include GABA, serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. Nutritional psychiatry has made great headway in establishing meaningful dietary interventions that have a positive effect on the regulation of these feel good neurotransmitters, providing us with a safe and easy first step to manage our anxiety levels. The growing interest in the gut microbiome has also suggested that the gut-brain link is of greater importance than originally thought. Not surprising, when we already know that 95% of our serotonin receptors are in the gut linings. A diet rich in fruit, vegetables and legumes are crucial to maintaining both the intestinal linings and the good bacteria that inhabit them. Not only do we need to consume good bacteria in fermented foods – yogurt, kefir, kombucha and fermented vegetables (like sauerkraut, miso and kimchi), we also need to consume nutrients such as non-starchy fibre, cruciferous vegetables and beta-carotene foods to keep their environment intact so they flourish and colonize the gut.
Magnesium-rich foods from leafy greens (spinach, chard, kale, green cabbage), seeds and legumes can inhibit excitatory neurotransmitters, diffusing anxiety pathways and are also beneficial to gut bacteria, a win-win side dish for veg when you are on edge! Magnesium affects a part of the brain called the hypothalamus, which helps regulate the pituitary and adrenal glands. These glands are responsible for your response to stress. Other food sources for magnesium include avocado, nuts and dark chocolate. Anyone for dessert?
The status of zinc has been elevated to that of a nutritional hero for Covid-19 in its role as an anti-viral agent, but zinc has many other jobs around the body including to produce all neurotransmitters. Although zinc supplements are like gold-dust at the moment, there is zinc in oysters, scallops, liver, beef, egg yolks, tofu, cashews, walnuts, chia, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds and flaxseeds.
B is for brain and B is for B vitamins, without which we would be a whinging, bag of bones. Be creative with your meals filling up with B5, B6 and B12 foods to regulate energy, mood and the stress response. B5 foods include liver, yogurt, tofu, legumes and mushrooms. B6 is found in wholegrains, eggs, soya and fish and B12 from red meat, black beans, dark green vegetables and lentils. Be wary of neuro-disruptors such as alcohol and caffeine, which also affect our sleep, relaxation and motivation to exercise.
Getting back to nutritional psychiatry, researchers have established the biological pathways related to anxiety and other mental health disorders which include inflammation, oxidative stress, gut microbiome, epigenetics (to do with our genes) and neuro-plasticity (the ability of the brain to change continuously throughout an individual's life). Every one of these pathways are affected by the food we eat. Omega 3 and healthy fats from oily fish, seeds, nuts, olive oil and avocado are anti-inflammatory and sustain neuro-plasticity. Antioxidants, rich in colourful fruit and vegetables combat oxidative stress, inflammation and influence gene expression. We have discussed the gut microbiome already. Conversely, junk food, sugar and processed foods have an adverse effect on all the above over time and an immediate impact on your mood status. Sugar, MSG and many food additives directly impact on your neurotransmitters, knocking them out of whack and sending you into a state of increased stress and anxiety. The amount of stress you feel at any given time is dependent on your circumstances but also on your perception of those circumstances, which can be profoundly influenced by your nutritional status and the other pillars of good health mentioned above.
Covid-19 has shocked and rocked our world. It is normal to feel uneasy and anxious about it. Fortunately, we are adaptable and resilient once we accept our new normal and build a strategy for it. With that in mind, grab a pen, plan your meals, stay calm and carry on cooking!
Researched and Written by Irene :)
If the queues in the supermarkets are anything to go by, there is a lot of eating going on! For most people, our calorific needs have not necessarily increased during this COVID 19 crisis yet the urge to eat has. This phenomenon is nothing new and much of it lies in our evolutionary ancestry in which the human body and subconscious mind have evolved to perceive weight gain as an indicator of improved survival. This was fine and dandy back in the day, when over-eating involved pigging out on extra roots, fruits and vegetables. But now, with our food supply burgeoning with junk foods, the consequence of survival eating may scupper its original objective.
Food brings comfort to us, as it releases dopamine and serotonin into our brains, making us feel instantly better. However, this is short-lived, and as levels fall off again, the urge arises to comfort eat again. How do you tell the difference between emotional hunger and real hunger? Real hunger grows gradually and lasts longer unlike a craving which can come out of the blue or arises to change an emotional state. This is why some people eat when they are sad or anxious. True hunger is a result of a lack of food, no matter what emotional state we may be experiencing. Another good clue to tell the difference is that emotional eating is usually only satisfied by one type of food, such as biscuits, bread, crisps or ice cream for example. True hunger is satisfied with a much wider variety of foods, because the body is screaming for nourishment, and not too fussy from where it comes.
The last two weeks have been extraordinary, the updates on the Coronavirus situation are constantly developing and understandably, feelings of fear and anxiety are high. We are in survival mode and naturally responding to the stress. While eating for sustenance is a good thing, experts say emotionally eating a lot of food with little nutrition can weaken our immune systems and worsen our moods at a time when protecting our bodies and staying positive is particularly important.
One of the simplest ways to avoid eating too many junk foods at this time, is not to buy them. Stick to your ritual of three meals a day, even if your routine has changed and snack only on wholefood, if true hunger arises. Ask yourself “am I about to eat because I’m physically hungry, or because I feel stressed or sad?” If the answer is the latter, good advice is to consider turning to other sources of comfort: breathing exercises, movement, spirituality, social connections (from a distance), hobbies or time in nature, among others.
With many of us now at home, we can spend more time in the kitchen. If you are new to cooking meals from scratch, now is a good opportunity to experiment with flavours and ingredients. Practice making a few homemade meals that you can enjoy making over and over again, long after this crisis passes. Seek real comfort in building on your cooking skills and creating a repertoire of recipes that you and your family will love.
Although many people eat more in anxious times, some people lose their appetite and eat very little, if at all. We can go back to our evolutionary ancestry to understand that stress can shut off appetite and digestion. Yet again, this is a survival instinct to ensure that we can fight or flee from a physical threat, such as a hairy mammoth, without having to pull up on the side of the road for a cheesy snack! This is evident in extremely stressful conditions in which many of our health care workers are finding themselves. Working long hours, under immense pressure with the added call for action required, many will not even feel hungry until well after their shift is over. Under these conditions, the body will release glucose from liver and muscles to keep them going. Fat stored in adipose tissues can also be mobilized for energy. But again, these are short term measures. It is vital that these people are nourished, replenished and allowed to rest and recover between shifts. To digest food properly, we need a relaxed digestive system - warm teas and broths can help your body loosen up after a stressful period, while protein shakes and electrolyte packets provide energy when appetite is low.
For those with children at home, who seem to be grazing non-stop, it is okay if they are grazing on the good stuff. Each morning lay out a little box with their snacks - fruit, veggie sticks, yogurt, popcorn and the occasional sweet thing to put a daily limit on snacking. Kids too are feeling the anxiety and also have that natural inclination to seek out comfort in food. Let them bake their sweet treat and clean up afterwards as the distraction will take their minds off things. Like adults, they too must learn that emotional eating does not fix the emotion but may leave them feeling jittery from too much sugar, adding to anxiety or leave them feeling low (after the sugar crash) intensifying feelings of sadness or loneliness.
These are exceptional times and while it is important to stay informed, do try to limit exposure to all the bad news. Take comfort in routine, in three square meals, in leisure time and self-care. Take comfort too in each other and the exceptional response of our community, local businesses and healthcare workers – “ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine” has never offered so much comfort!
All the best to everyone, Irene x
Stock Up for the Lock Down!
The threat of a lockdown is on the cards as Covid-19 or (novel) Coronavirus wreaks havoc across the globe. With increasing confirmed cases being reported in Ireland on a daily basis, the outlook is quite grim. Reports from our Health Service Executive (HSE), World Health Organization (WHO) and the scientific community acknowledge that we are still in early stages of understanding this new virus fully, but all agree that its modus operandi is similar to that of other Coronaviruses, which are responsible for most common colds. You would have to have your head in the sand if you have not learned about the importance of good hygiene, hand washing and cough/sneeze etiquette and self-isolation but in the midst of panic and stock-piling toilet paper, some practical nutritional measures may easily be overlooked.
In the event of a lockdown, forcing people to stay at home, it is a good time to prepare your shopping list and stock up on the good stuff now! Let’s look at some ingredients to minimize the risk of becoming very ill with this virus, especially for those who are elderly, those who are immuno-compromised or have underlying respiratory vulnerabilities? While we do not have the benefit of scientific studies about nutrition in relation to this specific Covid-19 yet, we do have a wealth of information about strengthening the immune system, supporting the barrier defenses (respiratory and gut linings) and nourishment for convalescing. With this in mind, here are some ideas of what to include in your lockdown grocery list!
Vitamin C foods are top of the list and luckily for us they are plentiful, store well and easy to consume. Source the best quality oranges, mandarins, lemons and kiwis available. Their tough skin protects the vitamin C content inside during transit so make sure there are no bruises or breaks in the skin. Vitamin C has several roles in the human body, one of which is supporting immune function. It is involved in building and maintaining connective tissue and fatty membranes, which forms our barrier defenses of the respiratory and digestive tract. Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant, protecting us from cell damage, builds collagen and mobilizes defensive immune cells to sites of injury and infection. We do not make vitamin C or store it and being a water-soluble vitamin, it dissolves quickly once ingested, with any excess excreted through urine. As such, it is best to consume vitamin C foods in smaller quantities throughout the day rather than having a load in one go. The same can be said for supplement vitamin C – little and often for continued supply.
Stock up on bones from a good butcher to make broth. This age-old remedy for colds and flu has lasted throughout the ages and no doubt will be seen to be effective in this crisis too. Broth warms the throat and sinus passages, killing off viruses and reducing their impact. Full of immune-boosting minerals, zinc, glycine and collagen – broth is nutritious, comforting and easy to digest, making it an ideal tonic for the elderly and sick, who may already have diminished appetites.
Like the broth, warm drinks are vital during a respiratory, viral infection – you can add more power to your tea by steeping a cinnamon quill, cloves, turmeric and fresh ginger in the teapot for at least 5 mins, making a chai-type tea from your usual black tea. Skip the milk as it can be mucus-forming for some and keep this tea on the go to stay hydrated and protected. Check your spice rack and make sure you have a fresh supply of these spices, not forgetting fresh ginger root, which can be kept in the fridge.
Fortunately, onions and garlic store well and can be added to everything from soups, broths, stews and roasts. The key to using these ingredients for an anti-viral impact is to load up, do not hold back – add them in abundance to your lunchtime and evening meals. Studies have indicated that garlic is more effective as an antimicrobial in its raw state, rather than cooked – add some freshly chopped or minced garlic to your dishes when serving, as well as adding it in the cooking. With everyone in the house on lockdown – no one will complain of your garlic breath!
Food staples such as oats, rice, pasta, dried pulses and potatoes keep well too and provide sustenance and calories for recovery. Add in plenty of carrots and sweet potatoes to the stockpile as they can be stored for weeks and are full of betacarotene, necessary for the respiratory linings. There’s a bit of a rush on canned foods right now but beware that much of them are high in salt (dehydrating) and low on nutrition. However, do get a few cans of organic tomatoes, beans and chickpeas for quick add-on to meals as these retain most of their nutrition, are easy to use and are non-perishable.
I have written two articles recently “Kung Flu Fighting” in December 2019, issue 271 and “A Better Way to get Better” in January 2020, issue 275, both of which have loads of tips for choosing and preparing foods during illness and recovery. They are now available to read in the blog page our website. While these articles are not specific to Covid-19, the content is relevant and may help you and the people you are caring for to be nourished and resilient during this crisis.
I still didn't sort out my Free download yokie thing, so just click on the PDF above and download the recipe collection!
I had great help this time from my cutie pie, Robin! She chose the recipes for you!
These recipes are perfect for younger members of the family and simple enough for them to put together with just a little help from grown-ups! Sit back, make a cuppa and let them wear the apron!
If you are interested in creating a nutrition programme, meal plan or recipe book specifically for you, your family, a group of friends or community group - just get in touch!
Examples of programmes include: The anti-Inflammatory Kitchen, Balance your Hormones, High Protein, Low Carb for Active People, Auto-Immune Protocol, 21-Day Kick Start for Weight Loss. All programmes can be tailored for your needs, dietary preferences and cooking ability.
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Thanks, Irene :)
I have been tinkering around all day, trying to make this download FREE to anyone who subscribes to our mailing list - basic stuff.... if you know how to do it! Out of frustration and failure, I will put it here so you can enjoy all the lovely recipes with your little ones! If any of them know how to integrate mailchimp with my website, I will name a recipe after them! Enjoy the recipe collection, I enjoyed creating it!
ps - if you would like to subscribe to our mailing list, please sign up at the bottom of the page :)
Kitchen Warfare for Kung-Flu Fighting!
In recent years, there has been a lot of talk of the overuse of antibiotics and unnecessary prescribing of antibiotics in the absence of a bacterial infection. We are more aware now that antibiotics do not kill a virus and doctors are reluctant to prescribe antibiotics to treat viral infections, unless there is a secondary bacterial infection or the patient’s underlying health warrants antibiotic therapy. General treatment advice for common viral infections include resting, stay hydrated, keep warm and take paracetamol for fevers, aches and pain associated with a viral infection. That’s all sound advice, but perhaps there is something in the kitchen that can offer added protection from a viral attack or at least curb its severity if it takes hold. The good news is that there is, and you might be surprised that many of these foods are about as common as the common cold!
Tea leaves contain naturally occurring compounds—including polyphenols, catechins, and alkaloids such as caffeine, theobromine, and theophylline—that defend the plants against invading bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Research shows that black tea can inhibit the infectivity of influenza virus. And in one study, black tea extract rich in flavanol compounds called theaflavins inhibited herpes simplex virus type-1 (HSV-1) infection.
Try these: Whizz in a blender strong-brewed black tea with grated ginger, mango, and natural yogurt for a flu-busting breakfast. Steep black tea bags in hot water, then use as a broth to cook brown rice, garlic, and onions.
Its powerful compound including allicin fight viruses, including influenza, rhinovirus, herpes simplex, HIV, viral pneumonia, and rotavirus. In one study, people who took allicin extract over a 12-week period had significantly fewer colds than a placebo group, and those who did get a cold recovered faster.
Try these: Roast whole heads of garlic, skin-on, until cloves are soft, then let cool and peel off skins. Eat as is, add to mashed potato or infuse a broth with it. Finely mince raw garlic and add to a dressing of olive oil, lemon juice, and chopped thyme. Mash raw garlic cloves and mix with minced rosemary and coconut oil, then refrigerate until firm for a pungent dairy-free spread.
Loaded with beta-glucans, antiviral compounds that have been shown to inhibit viral replication and enhance immune function. In one study, people who ate shiitake mushrooms for four weeks showed improved markers of immunity, as well as reduced inflammation. Other studies have shown that shiitake mushrooms have significant antibacterial and antifungal properties.
Try these: Usually sold as dried shiitake, rehydrate by placing a handful in a mug of boiled water. Allow to steep for 15 minutes. Drain but keep the soak water for stock or hot drink. Thinly slice shiitake mushroom, toss with melted coconut oil and minced garlic, and roast in oven until cooked. Sauté whole shiitake mushroom and leeks in olive oil, then finish with balsamic glaze. Stir-fry shiitakes, slivered carrots, broccoli, sliced red peppers, and minced ginger in sesame oil and tamari, then toss with cooked soba or rice noodles.
Has long been used in traditional medicine to treat colds and flu, and modern studies show that it has measurable antiviral benefits. In one study, fresh ginger protected against HRSV (human respiratory syncytial virus, a major cause of lower respiratory tract infections), by blocking the virus’ ability to attach to cells and stimulating the release of compounds that help counteract viral infections.
Try these: Cut peeled ginger root into matchsticks, sauté in olive oil until cooked, and use as a topping for soups or salads. Simmer ginger slices in milk or coconut milk, strain, then whisk in turmeric and honey for a creamy, soothing beverage. Combine finely grated ginger, dates, walnuts, and tahini in a food processor, process to make a paste, then roll into balls for quick energy treats.
Apple Cider Vinegar
A favourite traditional medicine, yet a number of modern studies have established the antimicrobial activity of apple cider vinegar against a variety of pathogens. Researchers suggest that apple cider vinegar may work by a variety of mechanisms, including the antiviral properties of apples and the presence of probiotics that occur during the fermentation process.
Try these: Steep dried elderberries and sliced ginger for a few days in apple cider vinegar, then strain and add honey for an easy oxymel (herbal tonic), take 10ml three times daily. Whisk together apple cider vinegar, honey, mustard, and olive oil for a sweet, creamy dressing to use daily. Stir apple cider vinegar and honey into hot water and pour over sliced onions and ginger for quick pickles to add to salads and stir-fries.
Has been used in herbal medicine for generations, and chemical profiling shows that its active compounds have antiviral, antimicrobial, immunomodulatory, and anti-inflammatory effects. In one study, cinnamaldehyde, the compound that gives cinnamon its characteristic flavour and smell, inhibited the growth of the influenza virus. Cinnamaldehyde also inhibits Listeria and Escherichia coli in foods, and protects against a variety of yeasts and fungi, including Candida albicans.
Try these: Add cinnamon, cardamom, vanilla extract, and coconut milk to oatmeal for a chai-spiced breakfast. Toss sliced apples and pears with cinnamon and honey, sauté in coconut oil, and top with toasted pecans. Add cinnamon and cocoa powder to your morning coffee.
Researched and written by Irene Ní Fhlannúra, published in West & Mid Kerry Live, issue 171, December 2019
Love this? Why not get in touch and get your own Anti-Viral Kitchen Cookbook! Packed with recipes, meal plans and tips on how to incorporate flu-fighting ingredients into your everyday meals! Food as medicine created for you! If you are interested in this service email Irene email@example.com
Even without the threat of the Coronavirus, it's that time of year when many of us are either in the midst of illness or languishing in its aftermath. Body aches, low energy levels, reduced appetite and a heavy head are just some of the symptoms people experience post-illness. Whether it is a serious illness that involved harsh treatment or a viral attack such as the common cold and flu, nutrition plays a crucial role in your recovery. Poor nutrition during the recovery stage may hinder the repair and rejuvenation of the body and makes healing process a long, arduous road. Obviously, patients' needs differ greatly depending on age, the illness and treatment involved but there are some fundamental tips that apply to most of us during any convalescence. The aim of convalescent nutrition is to maximize nutrient-rich eating with minimum digestive effort. Most of our immune activity is secreted from intestinal linings, yet the digestive tract can take on the burden from any attack. Also, treatments such as antibiotics, steroids, chemotherapy and anti-inflammatory drugs can disrupt normal intestinal function. Therefore, it is important to keep food light, nutritious and easy to digest and make sure it offers an optimum supply of calories and nutrients for recovery and repair.
Avoid warmed-up leftovers and pre-cooked frozen meals as these are less nutritious and carry a greater risk of bacterial contamination - the convalescents’ immunity is already impaired and they may not ward off another infection as efficiently as a healthy person. Red meat, fried or fatty foods are also a no-no. They are difficult to digest and use up vital energy to process through the digestive system - energy that would otherwise be available to the repair process. Sugar, sugary drinks and snacks are also off the menu during illness and recovery. Just a teaspoon of sugar can suppress immune activity by 50% for up to four hours after ingestion. Sugar interferes with the transport of vitamin C into cells - possibly the most important nutrient in all aspects of immunity. Sugar reduces the production of protective antibodies. Sugar causes mineral imbalances and neutralizes the action of essential fatty acids making our cells more vulnerable to attack from viruses, bacteria and other invaders. You will not be doing any favours by placing fizzy drinks and hard boiled sweets at any patient’s bedside locker!
Best foods for recovery are made from fresh produce - fruit, vegetables and some wholegrains. Protein, necessary for rebuilding and repair of cells is best sourced from white fish, organic poultry and vegetables, beans and legumes. Red meat and pork products are not recommended as part of a recovery diet. However, bones from organic beef, chicken or lamb offer great support through minerals and can add extra nutrients and flavour to broths, soups and vegetable dishes. If you feel that you require extra protein during this time use energy-rich digestible whey protein powder or protein powder to increase protein intake. These powders can be added to cereal, smoothies, juices and soups and boost B vitamins and protein when appetite is low. Another valuable source of B vitamins include yeast extracts available in health food shops and some supermarkets. These can be added to warm drinks or soups with added chilli, ginger and garlic for extra oomph! Our bodies use up a great amount of B vitamins during stress and illness. We do not store B- vitamins so need replenishment daily for energy, immunity and recovery. Meeting this demand may be tough when you are ill or recovering which may warrant a boost through Vitamin B-rich foods, supplements and/or reputable yeast extracts.
Wholegrains offer the best plant-based supply of B vitamins especially buckwheat, oats, brown rice, amaranth and quinoa. During illness and recovery these grains are best soaked for 24-48 hours before cooking. No single food has all B vitamins in rich supply so eating a variety of grains and vegetables will help to ensure a good supply.
Vitamin C foods are also a must during and to prevent illness. Raw, fresh fruit offer a good supply – choose thick-skinned raw fruits like oranges, lemons, pineapple and melon as they are protected from bacteria and viruses by their skin. Lightly steamed green vegetables also provide vitamin C. Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kefir and kombucha are among the most nutritious and digestible foods available and are a natural source of good bacteria (probiotics) essential for immune function.
Useful supplements to use during recovery include B-complex vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin D3, zinc and good quality probiotics. Warm drinks as herbal teas - echinacea, fenugreek, ginger, tulsi (holy basil), chamomile, thyme and green tea are all good tonics for recovery. Medicinal mushrooms such as Chaga, Cordyceps, Shiitake and Reishi may be new to us but are used as immune tonics in Eastern Europe and Asia.
Finally, meals are best served small and appealing to the eye to encourage appetite during an illness. In Victorian times, a patient's meal was beautifully presented on dainty crockery along with a posy of flowers. Psychologically, most of us respond well from feeling loved and cared for during illness, particularly young children and the elderly. If you are caring for someone who is sick, be sure to keep them company while he/she eats. It is often difficult to dine alone, but particularly so when you are not feeling well. Being ill can take its toll on both mental and physical health - but good food, good company and a good giggle may well be the best medicine of all!
Researched & written by Irene Ní Fhlannúra - published in West & Mid Kerry Live, issue 275, Jan 2020
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