To enjoy the last weeks of this winter well and full of energy, it is important to support our immune system in the defense against pathogenic cells. Because the immune system is our protective shield. Day and night it works tirelessly to protect our bodies from attack by viruses, bacteria or fungi. But where this defense happens and how can it be strengthened?
This month is all about "Immunpower. In this article, you will learn how to get yourself holistically fit and immune-strong through the last weeks of winter.
Around 70% of the immune cells that continuously produce antibodies against pathogens are located in our intestines. In addition, nutrient absorption takes place in the intestine. Science has long supported with numerous studies that we can significantly support our immune system through proper nutrition. So it is essential to provide our body with vitamins and minerals, the right fats, fiber and proteins. With the 10 rules of the DGE (German society for nutrition), which were formulated on basis of current scientific realizations, you have a good manual to the hand. It will bspw. recommended to choose whole grain products, cut down on sugar and salt, prepare vegetables gently or eat 5 pieces of fruit and vegetables per day.
Exercise in the fresh air
What may not be missing of course also in the winter, is sufficient movement! WHO (World Health Organization) recommends adults to move at least 30 minutes a day. Sports and exercise will activate your body cells and stimulate your immune system. Moving outside will boost blood circulation, which will give your immune system extra support. The lunch break can be wonderfully used to incorporate a walk in the fresh air.
Get enough sleep
Sufficient sleep time is individual for each person. However, it can be said that our body needs an average of at least seven hours of sleep per night. During a restful sleep our body regenerates, regains its strength and can strengthen the immune system. Do you find it difficult to get enough sleep? Then try it with an evening routine. It can be a "good night tea" just before going to bed, reading two pages of a book or a short meditation – the main thing is that your body and mind can calm down and get ready for sleep.
Drink a lot
By drinking enough water, you help your body activate circulation and metabolism. At least one and a half to two liters of liquid are recommended throughout the day. Water and unsweetened teas are best. Soft drinks, coffee or energy drinks should remain the exception.
Nature to recharge your batteries
Have you ever heard the expression "forest bathing"?? This is a recognized form of therapy in Japan. And indeed! Spending time in nature can be healing and strengthening for the immune system. It has been proven that blood pressure and stress hormones decrease, and for people with type 2 diabetes, elevated blood sugar levels can improve by spending time in nature. In addition, anxiety can decrease and mood can improve. Even a short walk in the woods lowers cortisol levels in the blood and the heartbeat also calms down. Another reason: the trees give off so-called terpenes, which are defensive substances against insects that stimulate the human immune system.
Long-term stress puts a strain on your immune system and weakens your defenses. The constant release of stress hormones cortisol, epinephrine and norepinephrine keeps your body under a constant state of flux and unable to find its way back to normal levels. Try to balance stress as best you can with relaxation exercises that are right for you, exercise, or things you enjoy doing. Taking a conscious break in between and bringing more rest into your daily routine helps you and your immune system.
You should reduce
Avoid or at least limit your consumption of alcohol, cigarettes and sugar. Too much of it has been shown to weaken your immune system and make you more susceptible to pathogens. With these tips, you can play a big part in supporting your immune system and thus keeping your body healthy.
Good luck with this and stay healthy!
Well-being soup for February
Ingredients (for 4 people)
– 1 large onion
– 3 Kohlrabi
– 3 medium carrots
– 2 – 3 medium sized floury potatoes
– 1 tablespoon of clarified butter/margarine
– 5 bay leaves
– 1 bunch of chives, fresh
– 800 ml vegetable broth
– Salt and pepper
1) Clean and peel all the vegetables. Coarsely grate the potatoes, dice the rest bite-size.
2) In a large saucepan, heat clarified butter and saute onion, kohlrabi, carrots, bay leaves and chives in it for about 2-3 minutes.
3) Deglaze with the broth and add the grated potatoes (the potatoes bind the soup and you don’t need flour).
4) The vegetables should just be covered with broth. If necessary, you can add a little water.
5) Now simmer the soup for about 20 minutes on medium heat, covered. Stir every now and then so that nothing burns.
6) When the vegetables are cooked but still a bit firm to the bite, season with salt and pepper.
7) Serve the soup without bay leaves and garnish with fresh parsley.
The cool temperatures and short, dark days of winter not only affect the mind, but also the immune system! At least until we actively support this in the defense. Our immune system needs many different nutrients to be optimally prepared for the everyday attacks of pathogens.
So, full (defense) power ahead: with a varied and balanced diet you boost your defenses!
What strengthens the immune system?
Prebiotic foods are fibers that support the growth and activity of intestinal bacteria. Dietary fibers are non-digestible food components that are not used by the metabolism and are therefore excreted. What sounds rather unfavorable at first, is essential for the digestive tract. Prebiotics pass through the intestines as "intestinal cleaners" to help eliminate harmful substances. Prebiotics can be found e.g.B. in the following foods: Green leafy vegetables, berries, garlic, peas and oatmeal
Probiotics are living microorganisms that strengthen the barrier function of the intestine and keep pathogens in check. These are naturally present in lactic acid products and fermented foods and can thus easily promote healthy intestinal flora. Probiotics can be found z.B. In yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, sourdough bread and pickled vegetables.
Proteins, also called proteins, are the main building material and energy supplier of the immune system. Therefore, add at least one protein component to every meal. Good sources of protein are z.B. Tofu, fatty fish, chickpeas, curd cheese and pumpkin seeds.
Vitamins and minerals
Make sure you have an adequate intake of vitamins and minerals. As a rule of thumb, you can remember: The more colorful your plate is filled with natural foods, the higher the likelihood that you will provide your body with all the essential nutrients. Vitamins B, C, D, E, iron, zinc and selenium strengthen the immune system in particular and are z.B. contained in lentils, peppers, nuts, buckwheat, broccoli and Brazil nuts.
In addition to immune boosters, there are also foods that are not good for the human organism. Such an immune weakening diet damages the body in the long run. Accordingly, take as little sugar and trans fatty acids as possible (z.B. baked goods, convenience foods). Industrially processed foods in particular contain a lot of simple sugars, trans fats, flavor enhancers and preservatives. These can attack the intestines and also weaken the immune system. Pathogens thus easily find their way into our body. Caution should be exercised, for example, with ready-to-eat pizza, bagged soups, baked goods, candy, soft drinks or spreads.
Prepare your own meals and snacks as often as possible. This is the easiest way to know what is contained. Otherwise, a look at the ingredient list does a lot: the shorter the list, the better.
Fermenting vegetables – made easy
Ingredients (for 1 liter)
– 1 kg mixed vegetables, finely chopped (z.B. White cabbage, red cabbage and beet)
– 2 tsp sea salt
– 2 tablespoons ginger, grated
– 2 tablespoons fresh turmeric root, finely chopped
Sterilize canning jars first before use. Put the finely chopped vegetables, ginger and turmeric in a large bowl and season with sea salt. Knead well with your hands for a few minutes until liquid comes out and a natural brine is formed. Pour into jars (no more than ¾ full) and press down with your hands or a pestle. If the vegetables are not completely covered with brine, fill up with clear water. Seal and leave to ferment at room temperature for up to 14 days. In the first few days, be sure to vent every day and keep pressing down vegetables. After 10-14 days, take a sample and continue to store in the refrigerator.
Spice up your life
You find cooked vegetables often taste bland or your dishes could use a little more spice? Then try out the following spices. In addition to adding a lot of variety to your meals, they also have health-promoting effects. Even our ancestors used herbs and plants from nature to treat injuries or diseases. Nowadays also scientific studies prove the positive effect.
The Mediterranean herb can be used fresh or dried and tastes fine-tart spicy. Especially in the Mediterranean cuisine it is used a lot and refines many classics such as pizza, pasta, tomato sauce, but also fish or vegetables. Fresh oregano should be added to dishes only at the end, otherwise the aroma dissipates. Dried oregano, on the other hand, can be cooked as well. Oregano has been shown to have a strong fungicidal effect, so it’s good for fungal infections, and it also has a blood-thinning effect. In healthy people
it prevents, for example, thrombosis. In addition, oregano is one of the most powerful antioxidant foods, contributing to cell protection.
Smoked paprika powder
Unlike regular paprika, the bright red smoked paprika powder gives dishes a mildly sweet, smoky aroma of grilled food. The spice bell pepper is smoked over oak wood and dried, then ground into powder. The spice tastes especially good with meat/fish, in sauces, as part of a spice marinade or with chickpeas. You should use it sparingly, however, as the smoky flavor is very intense. Paprika powder contains a lot of vitamin C, has an anti-inflammatory effect, improves blood circulation and digestion.
When you smell cumin, you are automatically reminded of oriental dishes and North African or Arabic cuisine. Falafel, hummus, curry or the spice mixture garam masala contain cumin, for example. The contained cumin soothes the intestines, has an antibacterial effect and improves blood lipid levels. Cumin gives dishes an oriental touch, tastes especially good in chili con carne, meat dishes, couscous or softens the bloating effect of legumes. You can also infuse cumin seeds, for example, as a tea in combination with fennel seeds and use against digestive problems.
You can find this Indonesian spice either as a whole nut or already grated in powder form. The sweet-peppery, very slightly lemony flavor goes well with potato dishes, spinach, cabbage, mince dishes and stews. Even desserts such as jams, compotes, rice pudding or even cocoa can be refined with nutmeg. With nutmeg: less is more, a small pinch is often sufficient for seasoning – freshly grated, the taste is most intense. Nutmeg contains essential oils that make food more digestible and thus support digestion. In too high doses, nutmeg has a psychoactive effect and is toxic for our body, but used in small quantities for seasoning, it has only positive effects for us.
Cinnamon is obtained from the bark of the cinnamon tree and has a sweet note. We often associate the smell of cinnamon with Christmas, however, it is perfectly reasonable to consume it throughout the year. Because cinnamon is very rich in antioxidants, protects our cells and has a blood sugar regulating effect by increasing the insulin sensitivity of our cells. Not only porridge, coffee or muesli can be spiced with cinnamon, but it also goes very well with pumpkin or sweet potatoes. Cinnamon can also give a special touch to tomato sauces. Sauteed fruits like nectarines, apples or plums with cinnamon taste especially good with yogurt or quark dishes.
In Southeast Asia, the turmeric tuber has been documented as a remedy in ancient writings. With us it was recognized only at the beginning of this millennium as effective spice in the herbal medicine. Experts attribute many different applications to the tuber – both internally and externally. This includes inhalations, wound treatments and rheumatism packs as well as preventive treatment against colds, infections or inflammations. The reason for this is their richness in nutrients and active substances. To name just a few: Vitamin A, B1, B2, B3, B5, E, biotin and folic acid. Enjoy the miracle tuber, for example, as a spice in food or freshly cut with hot water prepared as a tea.
– 3 ripe mangoes
– 3 red onions
– 2 red chilies
– 2 red peppers
– 2 tablespoons olive oil
– 1 Tbsp. cane sugar
– 120 ml vinegar (z.B. white wine vinegar/apple cider vinegar)
– 300 ml mango juice
– 10 raspberries
– 1/2 tsp ground cumin seeds
– 1/2 tsp paprika powder (sweet/hot, according to taste)
– Pinch of salt
Wash and peel mangos and cut into cubes. Peel and chop the onions. Wash peppers and chilies and also cut them into small pieces. Then heat some olive oil in a pan and lightly fry the onions, peppers and chilies. Add sugar to the pan and let it caramelize slightly. Then add mango pieces, raspberries, mango juice and vinegar, cumin and paprika powder. Everything on a low flame for ca. Simmer for 20 minutes. Puree the ingredients to a sauce and season with salt. Boil the bottles and pour the pureed sauce into the bottles (it is best to use a small funnel). Finally, close the bottles tightly.
Superfoods are now on everyone’s lips. Foodstuffs are imported from all over the world, which are said to have special health-promoting properties. But fruits and vegetables that have diverse vitamins and minerals don’t have to be transported from other countries. Delicious food variety can be found just around the corner in our local German fields.
In this article we would like to introduce you to regional superfoods that are currently available in February, so you can do something good for you and the environment.
German super vegetables in February
All cabbage varieties contain a considerable amount of vitamins B, C, E and folic acid. In addition, cabbage contains many minerals such as calcium and magnesium and secondary plant compounds. Whoever has cabbage once a week on the menu, performs an excellent prophylaxis against bacteria, because the super active substances of cabbage fight free radicals. Seasonal cabbage varieties are z.B. Kale, red cabbage, Brussels sprouts, white cabbage, black cabbage and Chinese cabbage.
Mushrooms stay with us in February, because this vegetable is available all year round. Mushrooms are characterized by their high content of vitamin B and provitamin D.
The delicious tuber tastes nice and spicy and like parsley. The special thing about parsley root, compared to other winter vegetables, is the good digestibility, which comes from the essential oils it contains.
Last chance! February is the last month to buy rutabagas from stock. So very high time. Because the power vegetable contains protein, but also important minerals and vitamins. Turnip contains large amounts of easily digestible starch and is good for the stomach and intestines thanks to its sulfur-containing essential oils.
Savoy cabbage is a real immune booster. It convinces with secondary plant compounds, fiber and a high iron content.Other seasonal vegetables: potatoes, herb mushrooms, beet, celery, parsnips, onion, salsify, black radish
Apples are also available in stock in February. Apples contain a lot of pectin as well as vitamin C. They are also versatile in both savory and sweet dishes. The antioxidant active ingredient quercetin and anti-inflammatory tannic acid are also in the fruit. In addition, lots of vitamins and trace elements strengthen the body’s own defenses. Since these are located directly under the skin, apples should be enjoyed unshelled.
Nuts, especially walnuts are ideal in more ways than one. They provide a large amount of B vitamins as well as magnesium and potassium, making us more relaxed.
Our tip for breakfast: a delicious breakfast bowl consisting of cottage cheese, apples, berries, flax seeds and a little honey!
Seasonal salads and herbs in February
Lamb’s lettuce is characterized by its slightly nutty and spicy taste. It also contains a lot of vitamin C and provitamin A.
Chicory has many beneficial properties and can be prepared as a salad or as a vegetable. For example, chicory has a positive effect on our digestion due to the bitter substances it contains.
Immune booster Buddha Bowl
Ingredients (for 4 people)
400 g spelt – 400 g rutabaga (a small one) – 100 g kale – ½ red cabbage – 1 small stick of leek – 100 g lamb’s lettuce – 1 pear – 100 g walnut kernels – 3 tbsp walnut oil – 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar – 1 tsp hot mustard – 2 tsp honey – 150 g yogurt (3.5% fat) – 1 clove garlic – 5 stems chives – salt Preparation
1. Rinse the spelt in a sieve under running water and bring to the boil in a saucepan with twice the amount of water and 1 pinch of salt. Cook for 10 minutes over high heat.
2. Peel the rutabaga and cut into small cubes, add to the spelt and bring to the boil. Cook both for 40 minutes at medium heat.
3. Clean the kale, red cabbage and leeks, wash them and cut them into fine strips. Clean and wash the lamb’s lettuce. Wash, core, quarter and slice the pear.
4. Roast walnut kernels in a pan without fat over medium heat for 3-4 minutes. Let the kernels cool down and chop them coarsely. For the dressing, mix oil, vinegar, mustard and honey and season with salt.
5. Peel the garlic, wash the chives, shake them dry and chop them finely. Stir into yogurt and season with salt.
6. Drain and drain spelt and rutabaga. Then divide among four bowls. Add cabbage, lettuce and leeks and sprinkle with diced pears and walnuts and drizzle with dressing. Serve with yogurt dip.
The ImmunPower weeks are a good preparation for our "Conscious 7 weeks" and the running competition around the world next month!