Joining us this week on the blog is Neleta Winter (BSc dipION mBANT) reigstered nutritional practitioner to look at Eating for Autumn. With the change in the seasons comes a definite change in diet, but what should we be eating to help maintain our health and wellbeing? If you’d like to learn more about Neleta and her practice, check out her bio at the foot of the page.
Eating for Autumn
Autumn is upon us which means that the colder days and darker nights will soon creep in and with the change in seasons, does this mean our diets will need to change?
Eating cold salads on a cold day isn’t going to be that appealing, but eating for the season is not only great for the environment but also for our health.
You see, seasonal vegetables and fruit contain higher concentrated amounts of nutrients and can actually help to support our health and wellbeing by providing the nutrients our body needs during different times of the year. As the temperature drops and there’s the increase in risk of colds and flus, we need to be eating foods that nourish us from the inside, strengthen our immune system, boost our energy levels to make us feel well and energised. And that is where seasonal foods come in. Nature is very clever in that it provides us with those warming foods, immune supporting foods and foods that will help to support energy levels when the nights draw in and light is low.
Root vegetables such as beetroot, carrots, squash, pumpkin and sweet potato are all wonderful autumn vegetables. They are packed with Vitamin A and C which are potent antioxidants that can help to support our immune system. Pumpkins are rich in Vitamin A, which has been shown to support the immune system. They also contain Vitamin C that can help to increase white blood cell production and help immune cells work more effectively. Sweet potatoes are not only a versatile vegetable but they are also full of Vitamin C which has been shown to support the production of collagen needed for skin health.
Have you ever felt that autumn skin when it starts to get dry and dull?
Eating nourishing vegetables and fruit packed with nutrients such as vitamin C, E, A, zinc, and selenium will help to support your skin health. Studies have shown that eating carrots has been linked to improved antioxidant status. Fruits such as apples and pears are abundant in autumn and did you know that apple skins contain quercetin, a type of plant pigment flavonoid that helps boost your immune system and reduce inflammation and not forgetting the vitamin C found in pears that helps to support our immune function.
Leafy greens such as kale and cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower are also available in September And they both contain high levels of vitamin C, which not only packs a powerful antioxidant punch, it helps fight off infection and regenerate other antioxidants in the body, including vitamin E.
All these seasonal vegetables and fruit contain an abundant amount of fibre which can will ultimately support our gut health. You see fibre feeds the good bacteria within our gut which allows them to produce Short Chain Fatty Acids.
Short Chain fatty acids are produced when the friendly gut bacteria ferments fibre in your colon. They are the main source of energy for the cells lining your colon. They are also involved in the metabolism of important nutrients like carbohydrates and fats. Did you know that up to 70% of our immune system is found in our gut? So, feeding our gut with nourishing foods that will support the good bacteria, provide fibre to help produce short chain fatty acids will actually help to support our immune system.
Whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, oats and buckwheat are wonderful additions to help support and stabilise blood sugar levels, especially on the darker and shorter days. Wholegrains are the complex carbohydrates that haven’t been highly processed. They contain wonderful vitamins and minerals such as B vitamins needed for energy production,
Magnesium and iron, antioxidants, protein and are high in fibre. They help to provide us with long term sustainable energy as they are broken down into sugars a lot slower within our body. Therefore not causing a huge rise in insulin levels. The fibre content of wholegrain helps to slow down this breakdown of sugars and also helps to support our good bacteria and increase the feeling of fullness.
Beans, chickpeas, lentils, soybeans are not only amazing plant based sources of protein but they also contain high amounts of fibre. We know that fibre can help to support our gut health, as well as being packed with nutrients such as magnesium, potassium and iron. They are a great addition to dishes to help bulk meals out and make for a wonderful hearty addition in the colder days…think warm lentil salads, stews with beans, and Curries with chickpeas.
Nuts & Seeds
Did you know that nuts and seeds were classed as an autumn food but now we are able to get them all year round? Yet they provide us with not only a wonderful source of protein but amazing nutrients. Such as, magnesium which is needed for over 300 chemical reactions within the body. including keeping our immune system strong. It helps to strengthen muscles and bones, and supports many body functions from cardiac functions to brain functions.
Nuts are antioxidant powerhouses. The antioxidants and polyphenols found in nuts, can help to combat oxidative stress by neutralizing free radicals.
Almonds are a great source of Vitamin E for skin health. They also support immune function and preventing inflammation. Selenium and zinc found in Brazil nuts and pumpkin seeds are vital for immune health. Zinc is crucial for the development and function of cells mediating the immune system. It helps to breakdown the proteins within viruses and bacteria and increases the activation of the immune response against infections.
All these amazing foods provide such an array of wonderful nutrients as well as fibre that will only help to support our gut health and in turn support our immune system to help us fight off any autumn colds and flus as well as supporting skin health during these cold and windier days.
Autumn brings not only colour to the trees but also to our food so think colourful, and try and incorporate a wonderful array of colourful vegetables and fruit at each meal time which will help to provide an abundant amount of nutrients, antioxidants and fibre.
Neleta Winter is a BANT registered Nutritional Practitioner and Nutritional Chef. She’s the founder of Nourish & Flourish Nutrition where works one to one with individuals to help to support and optimise their health and wellbeing And find balance with food. She also runs food and nutrition workshops, talks and demos to show people that eating to nourish our body and mind is easy to do and of course delicious. She believes that healthy eating doesn’t have to be boring and tasteless but by using everyday superfoods we can support and optimise our overall health while enjoying the food we eat.