Skipping the Flu Season in Powell River
Stock Your Refrigerator, Not Your Medicine Cabinet
With cold and flu season just around the corner, it seems like there are advertisements everywhere, encouraging us to stock up with over-the-counter cough syrups, drugs and cough drops in order to be prepared when “the inevitable” hits.
We have become used to being sick – many of us begrudgingly accept that we will contract colds and flus along with those we share our schools, workplaces and other public spaces with.
But what if, instead of stocking our medicine cabinets, we focused on stocking our fridge shelves with (and then consuming 😉 ) antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables? What if we focused on making sure that our immune systems were actually up to the task of protecting us from these seasonal bugs (as well as more serious, chronic immune-related disorders) by giving them the fuel they need to do so?
It’s not normal to get sick constantly – and in fact one of the most profound realizations we can make is that if we are constantly sick with seemingly innocent but annoying colds, flus or allergies, it’s an indication that our immune systems are not working as they should be, which means that we are susceptible to much more serious immune-system breaches, such as cancer.
A New Normal
The good news is we don’t have to get sick if we are consuming the right kinds of foods on a regular (i.e. daily) basis – and if we DO get sick, we can recover rapidly.
This is not just about deciding to get a few more fruits and vegetables into our days – although that’s never a bad start. But to feel the full benefit of a well-functioning immune system it’s important to ensure that MOST of the foods we are eating are nutrient dense and rich in protective phytochemicals and antioxidants. On a practical level, what does that look like? It looks like a diet that is truly centered around whole plant foods… unrefined vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes and nuts and seeds.
We’re often told to avoid processed foods, and that’s good advice. Doing so can help you to skip the flu season! It takes a lot of antioxidants to counteract the insults that our bodies encounter through natural processes, as well as stress, fatigue, and the toxins and pollutants we are exposed to on a daily basis. To keep our immune systems purring and happy, we need to make sure that most of the foods we are eating are rich in antioxidants. Like animal products, processed foods (even vegan ones) contain very few antioxidants – so they really should be delegated to the “sometimes” or “occasional” list.
Getting Those Antioxidants In
As mentioned above, most fruits and vegetables, along with whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds contain antioxidants, but there are some that are definitely more potent sources than others. Here’s a quick top 5 list to make sure you are getting in as often as you can:
1) Blueberries or blackberries
2) Beans (especially red kidney beans)
4) Leafy green vegetables (especially kale)
5) Green/hibiscus tea
Skip the Flu Season Smoothie
Serves 1 (double or triple for more people)
- 1 cup chilled green tea (decaf if you wish)
- 1 large handful chopped kale
- 1 frozen banana
- 1 tbsp chia seeds
- 1 cup blueberries or blackberries
Blend it up and enjoy immediately!
Introduction to Plant-Based Cooking
Awareness about the benefits of whole-food plant-based eating has been growing around the globe for years, but 2017 has seen an explosion in the interest in this way of eating, and why not? It’s not only healthy for our bodies, it’s good for the environment, it embodies a compassionate lifestyle, and it can be incredibly delicious too!
I’ve been teaching plant-based cooking and nutrition in Powell River for a couple of years now, and I’m constantly inspired by the people who take my classes and their interest to learn more about this way of eating. New classes start regularly; visit www.plantbasedrhn.com for more information or to register.