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!

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!

Sweet Potato Falafel Cabbage Wrap

I can’t get enough of the sun we’ve been having in London! I’m like, ‘Vitamin D feed me now!’ And with these light days, I need some light meals. My kids adore sweet potatoes, especially sweet potato fries – so this recipe gives that yummy sweet potato taste for my kids, with a great ‘Soured’ Cream topping and for the adults, an additional ‘kick up the backside’ spicy salsa. We used a Chinese Leaf Cabbage to wrap it all up, but use what you have in the fridge – even a big Romaine Lettuce leaf works too! And then top it all off with some Vitamin D, by sitting in the SUN while you happily munch away!

For the falafels you will need:

400g of sweet potatoes
A large handful of parsley
A large handful of coriander
1 and a 1/2 cups of walnuts
2 garlic cloves
1/2 an onion
3 tbsp. of coconut oil
1 tsp. of cumin
1 tbsp. of Buckwheat flour (really any flour of your choice works, I just wanted to use a gluten-free one)

sweet_potato_falafal_cabbage_wrap_grassrootsandgrains2Prick and bake the sweet potatoes on 200C for approximately 30 minutes or until soft. Allow them to cool and then scoop out the flesh. Next you must blend the parsley, coriander and walnuts in your food processor until well combined. Then, start to add the rest of the ingredients, including the sweet potatoes until the mixture becomes ‘paste’ like. Using your hands, create 20 – 24 small falafels and place them on a baking tray with parchment paper. Bake these for 20 minutes, turning them every 5 minutes or so until they are all a lovely brown colour.

sweet_potato_falafal_cabbage_wrap_grassrootsandgrains8Then for the ‘Soured’ Cream….

250ml of coconut yogurt (Co Yo is a GREAT brand to try for this)
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded and shredded
A large handful of mint, leaves only and finely chopped
1/2 a red chilli pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, pressed
1 tsp. of cumin seeds

sweet_potato_falafal_cabbage_wrap_grassrootsandgrains4Place all the ingredients in a bowl, mix well and stick in the fridge for about 30 minutes. Simple as that!

sweet_potato_falafal_cabbage_wrap_grassrootsandgrains6Finally, for the ‘Spicy’ Salsa

250g of cherry tomatoes, diced
1/2 ared chilli, seeded and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
A small handful of coriander, chopped
1 tbsp. of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

sweet_potato_falafal_cabbage_wrap_grassrootsandgrains3Place all the ingredients in a bowl, mix well and stick in the fridge for 30 minutes.

To assemble:

sweet_potato_falafal_cabbage_wrap_grassrootsandgrains7Take the cabbage or lettuce of your choice (must have large leaves) – I used Chinese Leaf cabbage. First you should rinse it then dry it and separate the leaves. Top the cabbage leaf with a few falafels and cover with the Cream and the Salsa. Wrap it all up and take a BIG bite. YUM!

sweet_potato_falafal_cabbage_wrap_grassrootsandgrains5

Once you’re done loving this dish outside in the sunshine, get back inside to your computer and like my Facebook page! And while you’re at it, why not sign up to my newsletter?!