Autumn is a season that calls for comfort and encourages us to reach towards our inner energy. Any change of season should always be accompanied by changes in our plates. Nature is wise and we should listen to what it has to offer at each time of the year.
Food, sleep and immunity are the three pillars to face the fall in all lightness. Let's see how to adapt our plates this season to overcome certain nutritional deficits and naturally strengthen our immunity.
The "sun" or "immunity" vitamin, is often the most common deficiency in autumn and winter. It plays a key role in immunity since it activates the white blood cells needed to make antibodies and fight against harmful microbes present in the body. Getting your daily vitamin D needs can be hard after the summer, and that's why a lot of doctors recommend supplementing during these cold and darker months.
You can also find vitamin D in mushrooms (Paris, porcini mushrooms, morels, etc.), which are mainly harvested in autumn.
A vitamin with powerful antioxidant effects that activates the body's immune response. Unfortunately, this vitamin is easily eliminated on a daily basis via the urine. A daily intake is fundamental in order to cover the needs and support our immune system.
It is present in all fruits and vegetables, especially in raw ones because vitamin C is very sensitive to heat and light.
Fill up on vitamin C with citrus fruits, kiwi, red fruits (buckthorn, adonis, blackcurrant…), quince, grapes, peppers, broccoli and parsley.
Zinc is an essential trace element for the maintenance of immune function. It must be brought daily to the body because the body does not know how to store it. It is a powerful antioxidant that intervenes against aging and age-related diseases, and improves the function of the intestinal barrier, a key to strengthening immunity.
Zinc is present in wheat germ, yeast, cocoa, wheat bran, cashew nuts, lentils, pumpkin seeds, and pine nuts.
Pre- and probiotics
Preserving the integrity of the intestinal microbiota is essential to maintain good defenses, since a large number of our immune cells are located in the intestine. The pre- and probiotics found in certain foods can greatly contribute to this.
Prebiotics can be considered “treats” for our gut bacteria, promoting the growth of the good bacteria. Prebiotics are essentially provided by the fibers in plants. Our body cannot digest them but the bacteria in our guts do, and they love it! These well-fed bacteria will then grow in greater numbers, to the detriment of the bad ones, and populate the intestine with bacteria beneficial to our health.
These prebiotics are found in all foods of plant origin: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, tempeh etc. Among the foods richest in prebiotics are: artichokes, leeks, garlic, onions, endives, asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes, chicory, cabbage wheat and bananas.
Probiotics are living microorganisms that help balance or rebalance the intestinal flora by promoting the presence of good bacteria. They strengthen the "barrier" effect of the intestinal flora, stimulate the immune system, and participate in the maintenance of the intestinal mucosa.
Foods rich in natural probiotics are some fermented foods: sauerkraut, kimchi, sourdough, kefir, yogurts, kombucha, miso, or tempeh.
Autumn is full of tawny-colored fruits and vegetables (orange, red, brown…), and some of these foods support the body in many different ways. They can regulate body heat, boost immunity, support detoxification, and maintain the intestinal microbiota and the synthesis of certain vitamins.
Let’s take a closer look at these fall foods:
Chestnut is a source of minerals (iron, copper, etc.), vitamins B and C, and is an excellent source of prebiotics. You can steam it, puree it or bake them in the oven.
Root vegetables are remineralizing, satiating, stimulate immunity and are excellent liver detoxifiers: carrots, salsify, parsnips, squash, turnips and radishes.
Endive is an excellent source of prebiotics. Its richness in inulin (soluble fiber) absorbs fatty acids and participates in the fight against bad cholesterol.
Mushrooms are the only plants to produce vitamin D! They are also rich in vitamins B2, B3 and B5, selenium and copper, involved in maintaining immunity.
Grapes are packed with polyphenols, a powerful antioxidant. It has protective properties acting on the cardiovascular system and on the formation of bad cholesterol.
Plum facilitates the proper functioning of the intestines, stimulates the functioning of the gallbladder and promotes renal elimination, with a high potassium/sodium ratio.
Pumpkin is very rich in beta-carotenes, helps the proper functioning of the urinary system and the prostate. It is an interesting source of fiber and therefore contributes to our digestive well-being.
Broccoli is loaded with calcium and is very rich in vitamin C!
Lentils are high in fiber and iron, and are excellent sources of carbohydrates.
Walnuts benefit from a high content of omega 3, which protects from cardiovascular diseases, supports immunity function, reduces inflammation, and contributes to the proper functioning of the brain.
Go wild and indulge in all foods Autumn has to offer!
Article written by certified nutritionist Aurelia Corbaz