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Food and cold: 5 foods and 5 medicinal plants for our immune system

Food and cold: 5 foods and 5 medicinal plants for our immune system

Food and the immune system go hand in hand. How we eat is key to having a strong immune system ready to face any setback in our lives. With the arrival of the cold, the change of time, the return to the obligations, the work, the stress of the day to day…, our body suffers, weakens and gets sick if we have not prepared for it. In each season, our wise nature offers us the right foods that will nourish and strengthen our vital energy against microorganisms and bacteria or situations of climatic stress (cold, heat), mental stress (much work), physical stress (many obligations) or emotional stress (worries).

Autumn is a perfect time to start warming up our bodies and prepare ourselves so that the cold does not take us by surprise and we fall into those eternal colds and that recurring cough that exhausts us and produces multiple ailments. What do we need to strengthen and pamper our immune system? It is fundamental that our shopping list is made up of contractive foods (yan) that maintain internal heat and prevent it from being lost; they are calorific foods that will strengthen us, relax us, and allow us to feel much better. Why not be kind to ourselves and allow us to eat the best that nature has to offer at all times? We share with you 5 foods, 5 medicinal plants and 5 spices that should not be missing from your pantry from today to strengthen the immune system against the cold. We always talk about organic products.

5 key foods

Pumpkin, sweet potatoes and carrots: in addition to being delicious, they are an important source of beta-carotene, which in our body is transformed into vitamin A, which is fundamental for generating white blood cells and fighting infections. The natural sweet taste they bring to our dishes calms and relaxes us. They are perfect vegetables for preparing a nutritious cream or cooking stews with vegetable proteins. From the pumpkin we will not only eat its pulp, but also its delicious seeds are a perfect complement to our dishes, rich in healthy fats (omega 3 and omega 6), antioxidants and fiber. They are also very rich in tryptophan, an essential amino acid that our body converts into serotonin, which in turn converts into melatonin, “the sleep hormone”.

Mushrooms and fungi: great activators of the immune system. They contain some of the most important medicinal compounds. For example, the shiitake mushroom (Lentinus edodes), besides being one of the most appreciated for its taste, its content in lentinane, an anti-tumour polysaccharide, makes it a powerful immune modulator and regulator. Together with shiitake, maitake and reishi have been called “elixirs of life”. White mushrooms are a very rich source of selenium (powerful antioxidant known as “The Silent Protector”) and vitamin B2 (riboflavin), which help fight infections. Mushrooms and fungi are perfect for dinner as they help to purify.

Legumes (chickpeas, beans, lentils, sugar, soybeans, peas): are a good source of iron, zinc and magnesium. They strengthen our immune system and their vitamin B6 content helps to generate white blood cells that fight infection. In addition to warming us up, vegetable stews offer us a magnificent source of vegetable protein, so necessary in the cold season.

Whole grain cereals: we will use especially medium and short grain rice, oats, millet, buckwheat and quinoa. Very rich in fiber and in carbohydrates of slow absorption, they are going to provide us lasting energy. They are rich in lignans, anti-cancer plant phytoestrogens. In addition, they are a good source of group B vitamins that nourish our nervous system. We can create very nutritious and sweet dishes with the cereals accompanied by vegetables, seaweed, seitan or tofu.

Onions, garlic and leeks: the sulphur compounds they contain are of great therapeutic interest. Onion contains allylpropyl dissolphide with antiseptic and antibiotic effect. Anti-inflammatory, analgesic, detoxifying and expectorant, it helps to eliminate mucus from the respiratory system. However, when boiled, it loses almost all its antibiotic power. Garlic, a must in the kitchen, is a great stimulant of the immune system and a magnificent antimicrobial that acts against a wide variety of viruses, bacteria and fungi. Like onion and garlic, leek is an excellent natural antibiotic that is very suitable for combating and eliminating intestinal microorganisms. In addition, it is very rich in selenium, a key mineral for our defences.

How about adding a couple of days a week an exquisite cream with onions, leeks and pumpkin and a vegetable stew with garlic, carrots, sweet potato and shiitake accompanied by a whole grain cereal? Simple, nutritious

5 medicinal plants

Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea M.): immune system stimulant, Echinacea is antiviral, anti-infectious, fungicidal, bactericidal and anti-radical. This natural antibiotic prevents infections in general and activates the T lymphocytes, but beware, Echinacea is not a plant that can be taken throughout the winter, to be effective and fulfill its mission of prevention is not recommended to take it for more than two weeks in a row.

Ginseng (Panax ginseng M.): well known for millennia as a tonic and aphrodisiac, this small herbaceous plant is adaptogenic, so it helps us adapt to changes. It increases our resistance to stress, fatigue, excessive physical and mental work, cold, heat or infections. Ginseng produces the feeling of well-being. Like Echinacea, it is not a plant that can be taken for long periods of time, if we do this it can produce a rebound effect and make us feel more tired.

The 3 kings of the Mediterranean: thyme, oregano and rosemary (Thymus vulgaris, Origanum vugare L., Rosmarinus officinalis L.): in addition to their aromatic virtues, these three jewels of the Mediterranean are energizing and tonic on a physical, mental and emotional level. Thyme acts on the respiratory system, is expectorant and antitussive; its essential oil is highly antiseptic. Highly antioxidant, rosemary stimulates the nervous system, raises the spirits, is revitalizing, activates and tones up the adrenal glands. The essential oil of oregano is one of the most powerful natural antibiotics that exist, it is a great strengthener of the body. All three can be taken as an infusion or to accompany our dishes, they will give them a taste and a touch deliciously medicinal and preventive.

Ginger (Zingiber officinale): the consumption of this rhizome produces a powerful internal heat. Excellent anti-inflammatory, digestive and analgesic, it relieves nasal congestion and reduces the accumulation of mucus. It can be mixed with food and can be used both as a dry and fresh powder. Pumpkin cream with ginger is delicious.

We do not want to close this article without first encouraging you to try and experiment with the foods and medicinal plants that we have indicated, great allies and friends of our health that are going to help us adapt to the cold much easier and simple, comforting our day to day. Propolis, cloves, cinnamon, turmeric and nutmeg are other basics for winter.

Celia Valenciano Bono

El Vergel Communication Department


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