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The nutritious colours of Autumn!

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Autumn is a beautiful time of year, with misty mornings, crisp sunshine, fruitful harvests and cooler weather. It is also a challenging time of year, with lots of back-to-school bugs and workplace illnesses. This blog looks at ways to give your immune system a boost through Autumn and on into Winter.

 

Autumn fruits

The apples and blackberries that are ripe for picking, as well as other berries like blueberries, elderberries and other mixed berries, are all bursting with vitamins, phytonutrients and fibre.

We have all heard the old proverb: ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away’! On the one hand this proverb was to limit the amount of fruit one ate to stop gluttons binge eating on sweet apples and finding they had stomach cramp for days. On the other hand, an apple does pack a great nutritional punch and has plenty of vitamin C, as well as pectin which promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut. As you have heard me say many times, 70% of our immune system is found in the gut, so the healthier your gut, the healthier your immune system! Pectin has prebiotic benefits and feeds beneficial gut bacteria while keeping harmful bacteria at bay.

I think we should have another proverb: ‘A handful of berries keeps the doctor away’! Berries are a great source of antioxidants such as anthocyanins, flavonols and phytonutrients, with strong anti-inflammatory properties and high nutrient content. For instance, wild elderberries and blackberries have high levels of Vitamin C, manganese and dietary fibre. One recent study found that elderberry syrup taken four times a day can reduce the symptoms and severity of influenza up to four times quicker than normal.[2]

 

Berry research

Other research suggests that blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackcurrants, cherries and cranberries can help fight viruses, reduce the impact of aging, and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. I was reading a study that showed people with obesity and blood sugar problems had huge improvements when they drank a blueberry smoothie![3] The phenolic phytochemicals present in apples and berries were also shown to reduce colorectal cancer as well as other cancers.[4] This was also evident with freeze-dried blackberries![5] One important finding from research is that it is the whole fruit (of apples, blueberries and grapes) that is associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, so stay away from those sugary fruit juices![6]

Don’t forget, if you start craving apple and blackberry crumble or berries in everything from porridge to muffins, you would do well to give in to that!

 

Probiotics for a healthy immune system

For a healthy immune system, we need to feed the beneficial bacteria and microbes in our gut.  One way to ensure a healthy gut is to eat a wide array of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes, seeds and beans. Another way to help your gut is to include more probiotics in your diet, such as kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha, yoghurt, kimchi, miso and other fermented foods.

Probiotics help restore the balance of gut bacteria and help with the effective absorption of food. If your gut cannot break down food effectively or access the nutrients properly, you will not be getting the nourishment you need. Consuming more probiotics means that you can get the most benefit from the food you are eating, especially the healthy food your body needs this Autumn.

On top of this, probiotics also stimulate the immune system to help it to fight infections better. Studies show they can reduce the amount of time you suffer from a cold and improve your response to vaccines!

 

Here are a few other tips for giving your immune system that extra boost:

  • Try to eat home-cooked food as often as possible. This will ensure you have the optimal amount of vitamins and nutrients to help you fight off infections.
  • Make sure you are getting adequate amounts of Vitamin C, Vitamin A and Vitamin D. Remember, you can buy a great mouth spray to boost your levels of Vitamin D as the longer nights set it.
  • Don’t forget sleep has a massive impact on your immune system. Make sure you get plenty of sleep to keep you energised and healthy.
  • You may like to use Echinacea to reduce your chances of catching a cold! Echinacea has a complex mix of active substances with antimicrobial and antioxidant properties, which is helpful at this time of year.

 

Here’s to a happy and healthy Autumn!

 

Every blessing,

Emma

Emma Maitland-Carew – Registered Nutritional Therapist

Dip.ION, mBANT, CHNC Registered Practitioner,

Metabolic Balance® Coach, HeartMath Coach.

 

 

[1] J. Hawkins, C. Baker, L. Cherry, E. Dunne, ‘Black elderberry (Sambucus nigra) supplementation effectively treats upper respiratory symptoms: A meta-analysis of randomized, controlled clinical trials’, Complimentary Therapies in Medicine, Volume 42, February 2019, Pages 361-365 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0965229918310240

[2] Zakay-Rones Z, Thom E, Wollan T, Wadstein J. ‘Randomized study of the efficacy and safety of oral elderberry extract in the treatment of influenza A and B virus infections.’ Journal of International Medical Research. 2004 Mar-Apr;32(2):132-40.

[3] A. J. Stull, K. C. Cash, W. D. Johnson, C. M. Champagne, and W. T. Cefalu, ‘Bioactives in Blueberries Improve Insulin Sensitivity in Obese, Insulin-Resistant Men and Women’ Journal of Nutrition. 2010 Oct; 140(10): 1764–1768. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3139238/

[4] Jaganathan, S. K., et al. ‘Chemopreventive effect of apple and berry fruits against colon cancer.’ World Journal of Gastroenterology vol. 20,45 (2014): 17029-36. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4258571/

[5] Lu, H., Li, J., Zhang, D., Stoner, G.D., Huang, C. ‘Molecular mechanisms involved in chemoprevention of black raspberry extracts: from transcription factors to their target genes.’ Nutrition and Cancer, 2006: 54 (1): 69-78.

[6] Muraki Isao, Imamura Fumiaki, Manson JoAnn E, Hu Frank B, Willett Walter C, van Dam Rob M et al. ‘Fruit consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: results from three prospective longitudinal cohort studies.’ British Medical Journal 2013; 347: 5001

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