• Alex Dobbs, Grassroots Nutrition

Winter Warmers, Immune Support ...

It is the end of February, and we should be talking about longer days, warmer weather, and springtime approaching. Instead, we are expecting storm Emma to sweep across the country leaving it in a blanket of snow and cold.

Is this cold weather actually good for us? The good news about cold weather is that it is good for the soil and that it kills germs. Do open your windows 10 mins in the morning to let in this clean air and let out the used up air to beat bugs. Wrap up and go outside to take a few deep breaths, really good for you. The dry air is a welcome change to our usual wet climate.

Briefly, how am I getting on with my fast? To be honest, this has been the easiest fast ever. I love soups, and have relished the opportunity to make soups every day. I have not felt deprived. But I haven’t lost any weight either, so I am hoping it will give me a spiritual lift instead.

I am more creative with my soups now, so am buying a chicken & roasting it, then making stock from it for my soups. I have been enjoying drinking the stock and experimenting with new vegetables in soup. Soups can be so varied, so something I blitz them, sometimes I chop my veg finely and leave them in. I don’t eat bread with it, as it is meant to be a fast and sacrifice of kind.

I am not asking my whole family to eat the same, so am not making them eat the soup. Although I find my 6 year old, who usually wages war on peas, is loving his soups – 2-3 bowls per day!

What does that mean for our immune system? What are good ways of protecting ourselves? Yes, I would love to have been able to talk about spring vegetables, longer days, etc. But here we are, in the middle of winter. Keep eating winter warming foods, eat a piece of fruit a day. Take Vitamin C and zinc if you are suffering from a cold (Vitamin C to tolerance, i.e. take as much as it takes for you to

either have a slightly queasy tummy or even develop loose stools, this is your sign that you need to reduce dosage). Try Manuka Honey (from health shop) if you are suffering with a tummy bug. You should still be taking a daily dose of Vitamin D to help your immune system (you can comfortably double up or take even more of your daily iU's of this vitamin as we are all bound to be deficient this time of year). Try meat stock (homemade) if you are sick. Maybe even try a fresh smoothie instead of a biscuit break to increase your intake of fresh foods to boost your immune system.

Drinking fresh lemon & ginger tea, or fresh herb thyme & rosemary tea really helps boost your immunity and beat the bugs.

What else can we do for our Immune System and to keep us warm? The best tip really is to keep eating lots of fresh vegetables, and to include some fruit in your diet. Soups are a fabulous way of making sure we get a good variety of foods. I also love the nourishment fresh meat stock can give us, so definitely keep these in mind. They are so easy to make. Do take supplements if you are feeling under the weather, high quality supplements are available in health food shops.

Also, try to slow down and don’t get too stressed. Be conscious about your fast. Don’t sweat the small stuff. It is proven that our immune systems are compromised when we are stressed and worrying. Try to judge when it is required to get upset, and when you are better off leaving the stress for another day. Try being mindful every day, this does not mean meditation but it does mean being conscious about being in the moment. If you have broken your fast, get back on the train, there are still plenty of weeks left for your fast. It is never too late to start.

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