Tasty ways to boost the immune system and beat the lockdown blues

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boost immune system
Katina Bennett is a a healthy eating coach and yoga teacher

AS the lockdown slowly eases, some of us may be feeling the effects of being cooped up with too little exercise and too many takeaways.

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But there are delicious ways both to get back to normal and boost your body and mind to be in the best state to ward off illness, according to Katina Bennett, a healthy eating coach and yoga teacher from Christchurch.

“Many people have found themselves feeling low during the lockdown. Being cut off from people, especially for those living alone, has been really hard to deal with for many,” she says.

“What we need to remember is that the mind is as powerful as the body. Having them both strong is what is going to give you the best defence against all viruses.”

She says there are many ways, using food and drink, to boost the immune system.

Katina adds: “Good things to include in your daily diet are turmeric, garlic and ginger. All of these are good for the immune system which, especially at this time, really needs a kick-start.

“Start the day with a liver flush of lemon in hot water with ginger. Aim to take at least one clove of garlic a day. If you can’t take it neat, include it in one of your meals.

“Follow the liver flush with a fresh fruit smoothie which includes bananas as these are really good for depression as they contain a good dose of potassium. Sprinkle over chia seeds and oats.”

A large amount of the population admit that they have been acting as if they are on holiday during lockdown, bingeing on junk food and drinking too much.

Katina says: “I don’t blame them – but now is a really good time to embark on a healthy eating regime. Try to think of food in colours, think of a rainbow on your plate.

“Now is a wonderful time for fruit and veg, with all sorts coming into season. A lot of people have also begun growing their own for the first time, which is fantastic.

“At lunchtime have a rainbow salad with green, red, purple and yellow vegetables.

“Red is linked to the kidneys and is good for energy. Green calms and reduces stress. Orange gives your whole system a boost while purple is another calming colour.

“Anything yellow is good as it is fantastic for the digestive system and is a colour that sparks joy and laughter, helping to reduce depression.

“Add whatever protein you like to the salad and dress with just lemon juice and olive oil.

“At night go for a simple, home-cooked meal, something like a fresh tomato pasta sauce, or a stew with pearl barley.”

Katina is pleased that many people have been baking and cooking during lockdown, saying: “I really hope that when it ends people do not go back to bad eating habits. We’ve learnt how easy it is to create a really good meal with whatever we have in the fridge or larder or garden.

“Keep baking your own bread, making your own curries, your own pies. They are not full of additives and are much better for you.

“Hummus is a good example of something that is so easy to make yourself. Just blitz a can of chickpeas together with a tablespoon or two of tahini paste. Add lemon juice and garlic. It is so much better and cheaper than shop-bought ones.”

Supplements are useful in warding off illness. Katina advises taking vitamin C daily along with zinc and vitamin D.

A pro-biotic is also essential as Katina says good gut health is important for the immune system.

Many people have found themselves drinking more alcohol than normal during the lockdown. Katina says a good way of embarking on a detox is by making mocktails, like a no-rum mojito.

She explains: “I fill a jug with ice, lime juice and mint then fill it with soda. Serve in a cocktail glass.

“Adding cucumber, mint or basil to water and leaving to infuse also makes a lovely summertime drink.”

Apart from healthy eating, Katina recommends taking up a form of exercise that helps with your mental, as well as your physical, state.

She said: “Yoga is excellent. It is very much about rebalancing your body and mind.
Just a few simple moves in the morning and evening will vastly improve the way you feel.”

Katina is currently hosting her yoga classes by Zoom. Call 07789 861501.

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