Autumn and winter are the seasons of vulnerability towards infections. The changing temperature and humidity increase the risk of catching cold. Let us show you how significantly your diet can affect your immunity making you resistant to potential cold or even flu or tonsillitis. Our diet has a major effect on our immunity. This article focuses primarily on breakfasts from the viewpoint of the traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).
The least appropriate winter breakfasts
Looking at the average Czech person’s breakfast, we discover that they most commonly eat white bakery products, dairy products (in the form of butter or cheese spread) with a couple of ham slices, a glass of fruit juice (most commonly citrus) and a cup of coffee. Those interested in healthy lifestyle have read in the media that they should be eating cereal muesli for breakfast. Muesli (in most cases full of added sugar) is usually consumed with yoghurt or cow milk in belief that this is beneficial for general health.
White bakery products, dairy, sugar = typical Czech breakfast. How doest it support the immunity?
It needs to be said that white bakery products (statistics claim that over 90% of Czech people eat them) is not suitable for our digestive systems, because it does not contain fibre. Fibre helps cleanse the digestive system and keep it healthy, which is extremely beneficial for the immunity. White bakery products are also easier to turn into fat due to their higher glycemic index making them one of the causes of the rapidly growing obesity in the Czech Republic. What about the dairy products? It is important to understand that any food we eat creates a reaction in the body. It cools the body, leaves it neutral or makes it warmer. The traditional Chinese medicine calls this the thermal effect. We should reduce or completely eliminate cooling food during autumn and winter. These are mainly dairy products, citruses and sweets which make our bodies cooler. Diary products and sugar congest our lungs and digestive tracts with mucus causing hyperacidity of the body and contributing to the development of cardiovascular diseases and to weight gains.
Why start the day with porridges following the traditional Chinese medicine
Imagine the body, digestion, the process of transforming food into energy and the immune system as a factory relying on fire. Any time we want to start a fire, we need to begin with a small flame adding small spills to fuel it. We cannot start with large logs and slow burning materials, because the fire would only smoulder, or worse, refuse to burn whatsoever. The same applies to our body and digestion. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It should be full of nutrition (vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and enzymes), rich in complex carbohydrates (slow releasing), quality protein, fibre and healthy fats. Breakfast should also have a warming effect during autumn and wither supporting digestion and the entire metabolism. For this reason, the TCM strongly recommends starting the day with a quality porridge.
Tips for using porridges in a healthy breakfast
Buckwheat, oat and millet belong among the healthiest porridges. Their glycemic index is low, they are easily utilised by the body, their energy is long-lasting, they contain valuable minerals, and they improve your body’s resistance to illnesses. I will show you a couple of tricks for preparing them. Instant porridges are fantastic, because you can have them ready in a minute. You can mix your porridge in water or in warm plant milk (soy, rice, quinoa, coconut), add cinnamon, unsalted nuts (cashew, almonds, Brazil nuts, walnuts = most suitable in winter), dried fruit without sulphur dioxide (apples, plums, dates, figs, apricots, bananas) and even quality 100% cocoa (with no added sugar). You can further add a teaspoon of ground flaxseed. Those who wish to make their porridge a bit sweeter but still healthy can add s teaspoon of agave syrup. The nutrition tweaking can be topped by a quality protein powder (with no added sweeteners, such as aspartame, acesulfame or sucralose). We suggest pea or hemp protein powder.
I can imagine that many of you are not used to eating porridges. Your parents did not guide to you towards them, and you thought that the preparation was too complicated to go through just for the kids. In this article, I have tried to show you that porridges can only be described using superlatives. I firmly believe that you have made up your minds about how healthy and tasty porridges can be. Bon appétit!
Author: Ing. Martin Škába
A nutrition specialist and a healthy lifestyle coach at www.skaba.cz