It seems unavoidable -the leaves begin to fall from the trees, the temperature drops, and we start to feel the beginnings of a cold or even the flu. The change of season, shorter days and cold, wet weather takes a toll on our immune system, and the use of indoor heating can dry and damage the mucous membranes and microbiome in our noses and throats, leaving us more susceptible to air-born bacteria.
Typically the change in season corresponds with a change of our schedule too – a summer of cookouts, too much alcohol and travel can mean our health is less than optimum, and we follow this with ‘back to school season’, cramming in as much work (and its accompanying stress and lack of sleep) between September and the holidays.
1. Prioritize Gut Health
With over 70% of our immune system housed in our GI Tract, taking care of your digestive health should be your number one consideration when staying well in the winter. I recommend a two-part approach of healing your intestinal lining by adding in foods such as bone broth and collagen which contain specific tissue healing amino acids and nourishing your microbiome with fermented foods such as kimchi, plant-based yogurt, and kombucha.
Try adding a scoop of collagen powder to your morning smoothie, and use bone broth as a base for winter soups, or even warmed up on its own as a comforting winter drink at least 3-4 times a week. Aim for 1 serving of fermented food a day, and my favorite way to do this is to add kimchi or sauerkraut to my lunch or dinner or have plant-based yogurt with berries and seeds as a healthy snack or dessert.
Use code ‘JHANWAY15’ at for my favorite bone broth at Bare Bones Broth for a 15% discount!
2. Manage Inflammation
Managing inflammation on a daily basis is key to preventing not just seasonal illness but also chronic disease. Systemic inflammation causes an over activation of the immune system meaning that we are more susceptible to catching colds and flu, and the length of our symptoms will be extended.
Turmeric and its cousin, Ginger both contain anti-inflammatory compounds and are easy and delicious to add to winter foods. Add freshly grated ginger and turmeric to juices and smoothies, or add flavor and color to soups, stews curries, and chilis with either the fresh or ground variety.
My favorite New Chapter products for managing inflammation are Zyflammend and Fermented Turmeric Booster Powder.
3. Boost Vitamin C Efficiency with Zinc Rich Foods
Vitamin C is well known for its immune-boosting effects, but studies show that its efficacy is increased when combined with zinc. Whilst it’s true that oranges contain a significant amount of Vitamin C other options that actually include higher amounts include elderberries (try these dried as a topping for oatmeal), kale, red and green peppers, and broccoli. Pair these with zinc-rich foods such as seafood, eggs and nuts and seeds to shorten cold and flu symptoms.
Tahini is one of go-do zinc rich foods – create my Tahini Cumin Dressing dressing by combining the following in a mason jar and shaking well: 2 tablespoons tahini, 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 1 clove minced garlic, juice and zest of 1 lemon, 1 teaspoon cumin and a pinch of Himalayan salt and black pepper .
4. Eat Seasonally
Eating seasonally is great for our health all year round, as Mother Nature provides what we need when for optimal health! In the Fall and Winter we see nourishing and grounding root vegetables such as squashes and sweet potato (also a great source of Vitamin C), dark leafy greens such as kale and cavolo nero (rich in calcium that help much needed Vitamin D absorption), and mushrooms such as shiitake and maitake that contain alpha-glucans and beta-glucans that help boost the immune system. Aim for at least 60%-70% of your produce to come from local, seasonal sources for maximum health benefits.
My weekly deliveries from Boston Organics help me to eat seasonally and locally, and try new nutrient dense produce. Use code ‘6519bofdbh’ for a 10% discount!