I speak to Marta from Green Olive Nutrition this week and ask her to share some tips for boosting our immune systems and looking after ourselves right now. She shares a super recipe with us too, which looks AMAZING!
5 ways to support your immunity naturally
1. Food first
With 70-80% of our immunity residing in the digestive tract it makes sense that we support its function. Our gut bacteria thrive when they are fed a diverse range of plant foods. They don’t have to be all fresh – frozen veg and tinned beans and lentils work brilliantly too. In fact some of my favourite tinned/jarred staples are sardines and anchovies in olive oil, salmon, beans (black, aduki, cannellini and butter beans), tomatoes, tomato passata, artichokes and sundried tomatoes. Having a well-stocked cupboard means you can throw together a delicious and nutritious meal even if you don’t have much in the fridge. Aim for at least 30 different plant foods a week – spices, herbs and olive oil all count.
2. Look after your mental health
Anxiety, fear and worry, just like any other form of stress, will have a very negative effect on our immunity. So make sure you are taking steps to counteract it by spending time outdoors, listening to guided meditation, video chatting with your friends and family or just having a bit of fun, playing games, dancing. With so many things outside of our control right now let’s free up our minds and focus on things that really matter – our health, our families and community.
3. Understand your cravings
The most common complaints I hear from friends and clients at the moment are snacking all the time. This can really mess with our blood sugar levels and affect mood and energy. There is no easy solution to this as we are going through interesting times. I would encourage you to check in with yourself and see how you’re really feeling – what purpose is the food/snack serving? Is it a distraction, boredom or true hunger? If it’s true hunger, then of course go ahead and eat and enjoy it. If it’s not, then have a glass of water or a cup of herbal tea and see how you feel afterwards. In order for you to feel satiated and full for longer protein/healthy fat/fibre with each meal is a must. My favourite snack at the moment is apple and pear slices with almond butter or medjool dates stuffed with almond butter and topped with cinnamon and toasted pumpkin seeds.
With so many of us not being able to go to the gym or our usual fitness classes now is the time to get a little creative. If you can get outside for a walk or a run please do, alternatively you can put your favourite music on and just dance, be silly and have fun. There are also a lot of free online classes you can take part in – everything from yoga and pilates to strength training and dance.
5. Prioritise sleep
With late nights watching Netflix, overindulging in alcohol or worrying about the current situation it’s no wonder that so many of us aren’t sleeping well. Good quality sleep is crucial for our immune system as that’s when the body goes into repair mode and renews our immune cells. Poor sleep is also a form of stress and can negatively impact not only our immunity but also put us at risk of chronic diseases and weight gain. So try to spend the last hour or two before bed doing something relaxing – put on a face mask and have a bath, read your favourite book, do a jigsaw puzzle or a colouring book. Find what works for you.
Overall try to find balance in your daily life. It’s perfectly ok to have days when you don’t feel like exercising or eating vegetables, maybe you want to start your day with cake. Just remember to connect with yourself, listen to your body and be kind to yourself!
Sardine and avocado pate
1 tin of sardines (my favourite are Waitrose Sardine Piccanti)
1 small chilli (I like birds eye but you can use a less spicy one)
Juice of ½ lime
Salt and pepper
Mash the avocado on a plate and add the rest of the ingredients, combine well. Serve with toasted sourdough toast, sprouts and toasted pumpkin seeds. You can substitute rocket for sprouts and jacket sweet potato for bread. The choice is yours!
This can be enjoyed at any time of day and is a great example of a simple but nutritious plate of food – high in essential omega 3 fats, protein and micronutrients.
Instagram : @marta_greenolive_nutrition