Winter Immune System Health

As the winter season begins to settle in it becomes all the more important that we pay attention to the health of our immune systems. Consciously supporting your immune system should be seen as giving yourself a helping hand to stay healthy through the winter, and always close to the top of your priority list! 

There are several small things that you can do to give this aspect of your health a boost, and doing so can not only protect your body from illness, but will also help you to maintain your positive mood. When we begin to get ill our happiness can suffer, and this can lead to increased levels of stress as we struggle to find the energy and the motivation to get things done. This can become a cyclic problem as higher levels of stress can further compromise the immune system!

Get to Bed

Getting enough sleep can sometimes feel impossible. We all have our different reasons for not always getting an adequate amount of good quality sleep at night – but whatever your reason, it is important for the health of your immune system that you work to resolve the problem.

You can try going to bed earlier, avoiding caffeine or other dietary stimulants in the evening, meditating before bed and creating a more peaceful sleeping environment for yourself.

Eat for Digestive Health

The health of your digestive system is closely connected to your immune system function, and this is something I discussed in my previous article on Gut Health and your Diet.

Cutting out highly processed foods and those that are high in sugar is a great place to start. Additionally, taking a daily probiotic can help to encourage the presence of good bacteria in the gut.

Want to learn more about how eating more plant-based foods can enhance your health in other ways too? Click here now to check out my starter guide!

Pay Attention to Vitamin D

Vitamin D is most commonly known for its role is protecting bone health, but it is also important for the health of your immune system. Your body naturally creates vitamin D from the sun, and getting outside into the sunshine is a simple way to make sure you are producing enough. However, this can become a problem during the winter months due to the grey weather and shorter days.

Fortunately, many foods are fortified with vitamin D and it also occurs naturally in quite a range of foods. Therefore making the extra effort to include vitamin D rich produce during the colder months will help to keep your immune system functioning properly.

If you have seen my new wellness for women membership site – Truly Julie – then you will know that I am on a mission to inspire and motivate women to become healthier and happier – and I would love it if you would join me on this journey as we keep moving through 2017!

Three Leafy Green Pesto

My Three Leafy Green Pesto recipe is something that you can easily throw together yourself in less than ten minutes from start to finish! It is also bursting with nutrients, meaning you can use it as your delicious go-to dip on those days when you feel you need an extra burst of goodness! Personally, I love making it for dinner parties! Continue reading Three Leafy Green Pesto

White Bean Dip

If you haven’t discovered my YouTube channel yet then don’t worry! I am going to be bringing the videos from my channel straight to you here on my blog!

Today I want to share my recent White Bean Dip Recipe video! This dish takes less than ten minutes to create and is great for serving as a side during a dinner party, or also just as a snack for one!

Several of the ingredients in my White Bean Dip, such as the garlic and olive oil, are fantastic for providing your body with the energy that it needs, as well as being helpful for protecting the immune system. Additionally, the cannellini beans are an amazing source of fibre, making them great for weight loss and optimum digestion.

Turmeric is one of my star ingredients and is something that I try to include in my diet every single day. One of the best things about turmeric is that it is super anti-inflammatory, meaning it can keep levels of inflammation in the body at a positive level. It also helps to protect against the onset of certain health conditions, such as some types of cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and liver damage.

Ingredients:

400g cannellini beans
1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup of olive oil
1 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp of turmeric
1 inch of fresh ginger, chopped
Pumpkin Seeds
Pistachios

Method:

Take the canned cannellini beans and drain the water before adding them to your food processor with a quarter cup of olive oil. You can then add in the tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, the teaspoon of turmeric, the minced garlic and the chopped ginger.

Blitz the contents of your food processor until your dip has the consistency of hummus. You can then scoop it out and place it into a bowl to serve. Top with pistachios and pumpkin seeds and you are good to go!

My YouTube channel is packed full of recipes, yoga, lifestyle advice, self-care tips and more! Click here to head there now and subscribe to be the first to know when new videos are released!

Why You Should Alkalise Your Body

Maintaining the natural balance of your body in regards to your pH levels is important for several reasons. Both your immune system and the amount of inflammation in your body can be affected by whether or not you are in the correct alkaline range. When we consider that immune system function and inflammation are two of the biggest factors contributing to optimum health, then we can see how important it is to maintain balance in the body!

Immune System

The reason that your immune system becomes compromised when your pH is out of balance is that the cells in the body aren’t getting the minerals that they need. This means that less oxygen is being circulated and your immune system therefore doesn’t function as well as it could!

When you have the correct alkaline balance then your body is better equipped to prevent and deal with infections and illnesses.

Inflammation

Chronic inflammation is a leading cause of illness and diseases, and can soon become a problem when normal levels of inflammation start to increase.

Acidic foods are known to cause inflammation in the body. When you consume excess amounts of acidic foods then your body is going to have to work extra hard to neutralise this acidity. One of the ways in which your body can do this is to take essential minerals from other parts of the body, which can of course be detrimental to your overall health.

Balancing Your pH Levels

If the foods and drinks that you are consuming are too acidic then your pH levels are quickly going to get out of whack. However, your lifestyle and overall diet also contribute to your pH levels.

Foods that are high in magnesium, phosphorous and calcium are great for restoring the alkaline balance in the body.

Unprocessed vegetables are the perfect choice for alkalising your body, especially citrus fruits. Garlic, ginger, apple cider vinegar and turmeric are also beneficial choices. Eating your greens will also help with this, and you can aim to include broccoli, wheatgrass, chlorella and spinach in your diet regularly.

If you do not consume many processed and packaged foods then you are going to give yourself a head-start when it comes to alkalising your body. They can be incredibly acidic, and it is an amazing idea to replace these products with whole food options!

If you have seen my new wellness for women membership site – Truly Julie – then you will know that I am on a mission to inspire and motivate women to become healthier and happier – and I would love it if you would join me on this journey as we keep moving through 2017!

The Super Nutrient: Vitamin D

Finding ways to boost the presence of vitamin D in the body is a great idea for improving and maintaining your general health.

With our busy modern day lives it can be super easy to negate our own health, and to pay little attention to the nutrients that we are consuming. However, this can quickly lead to our health and happiness becoming compromised.

As discussed in a previous blog post, Vitamin D is an incredibly important vitamin. And, since there is not something that can be found in abundance in many foods, it is essential that you get an ample amount from sunshine!

Your body utilises stores of cholesterol to convert sunlight into usable vitamin D. Although it is a vitamin, it actually acts more like a hormone in the body and contributes to many essential regulatory functions. Every cell in your body relies on vitamin D and a deficiency can cause long-lasting health issues.

Mental Health

The incidence of depression can be seen to increase during the winter months, and this can be linked (in part) to less sunshine during the day. In order to combat this issue it is important to aim to get more vitamin D from dietary sources during the winter, and you can also opt for supplements.

Immune System Function

Your immune system relies on vitamin D to function effectively. Low levels of vitamin D can contribute to the onset of several health conditions and ensuring you get an adequate amount is a great way to help protect yourself.

Bone Strength

This super vitamin is incredibly beneficial when it comes to the health of your bones. It helps to prevent the breakdown of the bones, as well as increasing the overall strength of your entire skeletal system.

Brain Health

It may surprise you to learn that your memory can actually be affected by long-term vitamin D deficiency. Persistent low levels of this vitamin has also been linked to the development of certain neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

As you can clearly see, there is much to be gained from vitamin D and much to be lost by not making sure you have get an adequate amount!

If you have seen my new wellness for women membership site – Truly Julie – then you will know that I am on a mission to inspire and motivate women to become healthier and happier – and I would love it if you would join me on this journey as we keep moving through 2017!

Understanding and Alleviating Anger

Anger is a natural human emotion and can occur for any number of reasons. Some people are much quicker to get angry than others but there is certainly not a single person on the planet who does not get angry at something!

Disappointment and frustration are two common causes of anger, alongside lack of control over certain ongoing events and isolated incidents. During these situations, your brain will be flooded with adrenaline and cortisol as your body enters fight or flight mode. Excess cortisol in the body can actually be damaging to the immune system as well as having the potential to impair memory function.

Persistent angry episodes are not only unhealthy for your body and mind, but can also cause further reaching problems in other areas of your life – such as your relationships with others.

Although anger is a natural response, understanding your reasons for becoming angry and being able to process this emotion in a positive way, will help you to deal with it in the long term.

As soon as you feel yourself getting angry it is a great idea to distance yourself from this reaction by rating your anger. When you do this you will start to see your anger as being separate from yourself and it therefore becomes much easier to process. When rating anger, I find it helpful to use a scale of one to five, with one being not very angry and five being the angriest you can imagine being. It is unlikely that you will ever rate your anger at a level five when you stop to think about it, and this realisation can be very helpful in alleviating your mood and temper.

I am a big fan of the benefits of breathing and I find it to be especially useful during periods of anger. Immediately making the effort to focus on your breathing when you start to feel anger rising will not only distract you from the situation, but will also work to relax your body. Anger can often cause your body to tense up and breathing is a great way to combat this.

Understanding why you have become angry in the first place can help to prevent the same thing from happening again in the future. Try to consider the reasons why the situation has left you feeling disappointed or frustrated. Consider the ways that you could regain control of the situation in order to gain better control of your emotions. Only then will you be able to work towards better control of your anger in the future and better maintain a positive outlook. 

My online e-learning portal will soon have a new course dedicated to self-love, letting go and happiness which are all concepts that can help us to understand our passions! Head to the Flexi Foodie Academy soon to sign up and Like my Facebook page to be the first to know when it comes out!

How Stress Affects Your Health

Our mental wellbeing has a huge impact on our physical health and taking care of yourself should involve practices related to both of these things! If your mind is frequently busy with negative thoughts and stress then you will observe that your energy and general health will decrease over time. It is often difficult to measure how much stress a person is experiencing, and for that reason it is regularly dismissed from being a health concern. However, that does not mean that you should take your stress levels any less seriously. Stress can cause some serious changes in your body that can actually be quite dangerous. Being aware of this can help you to understand why it is important to avoid stressful situations and reach resolutions to conflict quickly.

Stress has the potential to change how your genes function. This means that during periods of extreme stress the way your body stores fat can change, your immune system can become compromised and visible signs of aging can increase. When your immune system is affected in this way, you are more likely to develop infections, especially ones that can lay dormant such as cold sores.

Research has shown that those who experience high levels of stress as children can have dramatically altered responses to stress as adults. This means that these people might find certain situations harder to deal with than those who were not exposed to this early in life. High stress levels can actually damage certain parts the brain, such as those responsible for memory. During incredibly intense periods of time, the brain will often trigger adrenal shutdown in order to preserve as much energy as possible for its own function. Adrenal fatigue can wreak havoc in your life and will drastically diminish your energy levels. The simplest of tasks, such as getting out of bed for more than a few hours, can seem incredibly difficult.

Studies have proven that the body’s ability to detoxify prescription drugs is negatively affected by stress. Similar studies have also shown that a person is much more likely to crave fatty, sugary foods during periods of moderate to extreme stress. If your lifestyle is causing you to compromise your nutrition then you will experience these negative effects much more rapidly.

As you can see, keeping your stress levels to an absolute minimum should be a priority in your life if you want to remain a positive and productive person. Distancing yourself from toxic relationships and negative influences should be an immediate action. You can also look to activities such as yoga and meditation in order to promote relaxation and optimum health! Check out my previous post on How to Make Time for Meditation for tips on getting started.

Where Are All The Antioxidants?

We all know that eating a varied diet full of natural foods is the key to good health, however, there is an abundance of such foods to choose from. It is normal that everybody has certain foods that they prefer, but in order to maximise the nutrition in your diet it is important to eat as wide a selection of plant-based foods as possible. By consuming foods that are rich in antioxidants, you are giving your body the ammo it needs to keep your immune system healthy and fight rogue free radicals.

Even though antioxidants can be found in a large number of foods, there are several that have a much higher count than others. By choosing to include these foods in your meals, and as snacks, your health will benefit dramatically. These foods are often referred to as superfoods because of the benefits of eating them! When you include these superfoods in your diet, you will be able to stop buying and consuming pricy supplements and get all of your nutrition directly from natural food sources.

Blueberries have been used in research to determine the best way to protect cells from damage. It has been suggested that consuming them every day will go a long way to protecting your body in this way. Blueberries are also good for lowering inflammation and boosting the immune system. In addition to having a high antioxidant count, blueberries also contain high numbers of phytochemicals that are believed to protect the body against certain diseases.

All nuts in their raw form are fantastic for the body. The problem comes when these nuts are cooked in refined oils and covered in salt. When eaten raw, any type of nut will provide health benefits to the body and a happy dose of antioxidants. One of the best advantages of eating nuts is that they contain high numbers of good fats which the body needs to function properly. All nuts are high in antioxidants but amongst the best for your health are almonds, brazil nuts and walnuts.

If you’ve visited my online learning portal then you’ll know that dark leafy green vegetables are an absolute favourite of mine – and for good reason! Crammed full of antioxidants, vitamins, calcium, magnesium and much more, dark leafy green vegetables are all-round winners for the body. If you don’t know which ones to choose, then give kale, spinach and broccoli a go to start!

Tofu and Vegetable Miso Soup

 This soup is an absolute secret weapon against any nasty colds or flu you might pick up this spring! With the weather still not fantastic it is essential to give your immune system as much help as you can to keep illness away. As we know, food is the best preventative medicine and this soup is packing some serious nutrition! There are some foods, like garlic and ginger for example, that are known to help the body through periods when you’re not at your best. Getting these foods into your diet isn’t difficult but discovering new and interesting recipes may not be something you have time for. Hopefully my blog has removed all of the leg work for you on that front though! Although this soup is great for kicking germs out of the body, that doesn’t mean you have to wait until you’re feeling sick to try it! The following ingredients will make enough for four or five generous servings.

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One red onion, sliced

A handful of ginger, finely sliced

Two cloves of garlic, finely chopped

One fresh chilli, sliced

A handful of bean sprouts

One carrot, sliced

Three or four spring onions, sliced at an angle

Brown rice miso paste

150g of sweetcorn

Four or five sliced mushrooms

200g of tofu

Brown rice noodles

Soya butter

Veg stock

1 litre of water

So to begin, fry the onion in some soy butter with most of the ginger (leave some for later), chilli and garlic. Once they have had a few minutes to fry add in the mushrooms and carrot. Stir everything together and leave on the hob to cook. While this is happening, slice the tofu in half and press a paper towel against it to help remove any excess water.

tofu_vegetable_miso_soup_theflexifoodie2

Next, take some of the miso paste and rub it into the tofu before frying it in a separate pan. Once you have begun frying the tofu you can add the sweetcorn and the veg stock in the litre of water. Once the tofu is crispy, remove it from the heat. However, leave the other pot to simmer for about 40 minutes.

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Once this time has passed, add four tablespoons of miso paste to the simmering pan and prepare the brown rice noodles by covering them in hot water. Next, cool the noodles by running them under cold water and then put them into the soup. Chuck the fried tofu in too with the sliced spring onions and the rest of the ginger. You immune boosting soup is now ready to serve!

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Coconut Breakfast Bowls

What better way to combat Monday morning and start the week properly then with a seriously tasty and incredibly healthy Coconut Breakfast Bowl! This is my absolute favourite breakfast treat and is one of the first things I tuck in to on at least three occasions during the week! It’s not just a favourite of mine but also of all four of my kids and is so simple to make that even my oldest at 14 can easily prepare a bowl for the entire family – when she’s feeling helpful that is!

coconutbreakfastbowls3Across all of the Pacific Islands, palm trees are known as ‘The Trees of Life’ and they believe that coconuts are the cure for all illness. Whilst this may not actually be true, coconuts are fantastic for the immune system as they’re anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal – essentially they have the capacity to kill of harmful things which threaten your body. Not only this but they’re also totally delicious and a nutritious source of vitamins, amino acids, minerals and fibre. Add to this that they’re loaded with calcium, magnesium and potassium as well as containing a high concentration of electrolytes. I could go on and on and on about these amazing fruits, however instead here is the recipe to make Coconut Breakfast Bowls by yourself. The ingredients listed below are enough to feed two but you can always double up if you have more mouths to feed!

coconutbreakfastbowls2

Handful of chopped, fresh coconut
1/2 a banana
1/2 an avocado
1/4 a cucumber
A handful of blueberries
2 dates, de-stoned
8 basil leaves
The juice of 1 lime
1 inch piece of ginger
1 cup coconut water

All you have to do is combine all of the ingredients together in a food processor and blend together! No mess, no fuss then you can serve in a bowl and enjoy!

If you’re looking for a fantastic way to cleanse your body and increase your energy levels then check out my 21-Day Green Smoothie Challenge!  By just including one smoothie a day in your diet you can soon get your body working and looking the way you want it to. With improved energy and a healthier body you’ll also notice that your ability to focus will also improve and you’ll experience better moods.

coconutbreakfastbowls4Having a diet that contains a decent amount of fresh fruit and vegetables is such a great way to maintain your general health and contrary to popular belief it doesn’t have to be difficult or overly expensive. By removing processed, fatty foods from your diet and replacing them with healthier, natural alternatives, you will readily be able to notice that difference in yourself and your attitude to the world around you!

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