For our beloved Matcha Mates in the Southern Hemisphere, we're heading into the throes of Winter with some seriously chilly weather (how rude!) Team MM is big on giving our body a natural boost through our diet and lifestyle as much as possible, but we know the masses of information out there can become overwhelming and that sometimes we just need a good old simple list. So here's a list of a few of our favourite ingredients and tips to keep the sniffles at bay when the weather turns grey and dreary, with a user-friendly explanation of why it's good for you. Enjoy!
1. Matcha (and other antioxidant superstars)
No surprises there... And we promise we're not even being biased - our superfood superstar is exceptionally high in antioxidants - it has 137 x the antioxidants of regular green tea so is basically an antioxidant powerhouse! And because it's so versatile, we love that you can have it alone, in beverages, in food OR applied topically.
And if you consume a lot of antioxidants but don't really understand why they're good for you, the short answer is that they protect our cells from damage by free radicals and other harmful factors and also stimulate the production of white blood cells, our body’s defense mechanism. So especially when the nasty Winter bugs start circulating, antioxidants (and therefore, matcha) are where it's at! We also love berries, pomegranates, greens and dark chocolate.
Image from the lovely @jescoxnutritionist who also adds that matcha's "chlorophyll content will encourage secretion of Secretory IgA in the gut! (a vital secretion for reducing gut permeability and inflammation)"
Just like matcha, ginger has been used as a herbal medicine for centuries for its antioxidant effects and anti-inflammatory properties (due to its high levels of anti-inflammatory gingerols). It can help with many an ailment all the way from upset tummies to sore throats. Also like matcha, it is easily added to anything - not only savoury cooking as it is traditionally used but we also love adding it to hot drinks like a hot lemon, ginger and honey tea (and a few of our lattes at Matcha Mylkbar for an extra hit of health).
Another ingredient we love for its versatility - we LOVE garlic so need no excuses to up our consumption levels when Winter is on its way. It's been used for years as a natural health remedy for a reason - garlic has natural antibacterial, antioxidant, antiviral, and antiseptic properties! This is said to be due to its allicin which produces sulfenic acid that reacts with dangerous free radicals faster than any other compound (although this is starting to get a bit technical for us - we just love garlic, so any excuse will do!) It packs a punch of flavour too, so we add it to everything! Even just plain sauteed vegetables become completely transformed with a hint of garlic.
Yet another spice, turmeric is also an easy addition to your cooking that helps boost the immune system through its curcumin. Curcumin is the component of turmeric that studies say helps activate white blood cells and halt the growth of bacteria. Since the rise of golden turmeric lattes (which, yes, we do indeed have at Matcha Mylkbar thanks to Golden Grind), getting your turmeric fix has become even easier. It has a stronger, richer flavour that might not be as familiar and versatile as garlic or ginger - try adding it to scrambled eggs or warming winter curries.
5. Carrots (and other sources of beta carotene)
While we've generally stuck to "ingredients", carrots had to make an appearance as they are such a Winter veggie. Carrots contain high amounts of beta carotene which the body converts into vitamin A - a key nutrient in immune function. Vitamin A helps protect against infection and reduce the risk of respiratory illness. Carrots are so easy to add to your winter recipes - we even love roasting them alone with a drizzle of honey and a sprinkle of cinnamon. You can also add them to soups, stir fries, stews, salads, or spiralise them into "carrot spaghetti" - so yummy! And at Matcha Mylkbar, we've also just introduced a carrot latte! SO YUM!
Other sources of beta carotene we love are kale, spinach and pumpkin. Beta carotene is also fat soluble, so try adding a little coconut oil when you cook to help with absorption.
6. Citrus fruits (and other things high in Vitamin C)
This is an obvious one, but you can't leave it off any immunity list. We all think immediately of Vitamin C when we think of fighting off colds and this is because it is an antioxidant that helps boost white blood cells that fight off bacteria and infections. While citrus fruits are the obvious choice, there are also capsicums, broccoli, tomatoes and leafy greens with high Vitamin C.
Image credit: Google stock image
7. Yoghurt (and other probiotics)
Perhaps a less obvious choice is natural yoghurt - we all know yoghurt contains probiotics that are great for gut health but it's easy to forget that this plays a role in overall immunity so is great in the lead up to Winter. Try to go for a natural, unsweetened, authentic yoghurt rather than flavoured, highly processed options. You can also get probiotics from tempeh, kefir and other sources too.
And finally, another one that might not be as immediately obvious, is mushrooms. Mushrooms are also said to help increase the production and activity of infection-fighting white blood cells. Our rapidly moving health food industry is already onto it with mushroom powders like chaga and reishi powders becoming more widely available. You can, of course, just add more mushrooms to your cooking rather than enjoying it in powdered form. But we've made it easy for you at Matcha Mylkbar (sorry to harp on about it, but we're all about making your health easier for you!) by introducing mushroom lattes too! With a little almond milk and vanilla essence, you could even try making one of these at home too!
Hope you're all surviving the cooler weather and to our friends up North, please send us over some sunshine!