Thursday, 19 June 2014

Top 5 Breakfasts to Boost your Immune Health

Today's post is by nutritionist Kyla Williams from Igennus Healthcare Nutrition. Kyla has an educational background in science and a master's degree in Nutritional Medicine. She has a deep understanding of the complexities of nutrition, including diet, lifestyle and supplements. Kyla is Igennus' London-based Nutrition Technical Advisor and also runs her own practice as a clinical nutritionist specialising in skin disorders, digestive issues and weight management.

Whether you are recovering from chemotherapy or trying to fend off the occasional cold, it is always worthwhile to keep your immune system working in tip top condition. Starting the day with a nutritious breakfast is a great way to support your body in fighting off infections, and keeping you feeling well. Here are my ‘top 5 breakfasts’ which are all absolutely delicious and full of healthy nutrition!

1. Raspberry almond pancakes. Pancakes can be very healthy with the right ingredients, and what a great way to start your day! Instead of the usual highly refined wheat-based pancakes, why not opt for something full of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, protein and antioxidants.

Blend the following ingredients and cook on a medium heat in coconut oil. Makes 4 small pancakes.
·         1 egg
·         1 handful of raspberries
·         3 tbsp almond flour (100% ground almonds)
·         2 tbsp oats
Serve with stewed raspberries poured over the top, with almond flakes for a moist and crunchy healthy topping. Coconut oil is heat stable and also full of powerful immune-boosting fatty acids such as lauric acid, therefore is great to use when frying foods.

Raspberries and other berries are some of the most nutrient dense fruits, containing high levels of vitamin C and vitamin K which are essential to immune health.
You can play around with pancake recipes, using banana in place of raspberries, and different types of ground nuts such as hazelnuts. Add a tsp. of (unsweetened) cocoa powder if you like chocolate flavour. Cocoa is a great source of iron and antioxidants called flavonoids.

2. Mackerel with poached eggs and courgette. Mackerel is a great type of oily fish to include at breakfast time. Try having 1 sliced grilled courgette with poached eggs and mackerel for a filling nutritious breakfast. The omega-3 fatty acids in mackerel, particularly the omega-3 EPA, have wonderful effects in keeping your immune system going strong. As an added bonus, omega-3 EPA also helps to reduce inflammation in the body. Eggs are a great source of protein and also contain good levels of vitamin A and vitamin D which are needed for a well functioning immune system, so keep up your egg intake.

3. Fruit, yoghurt and nuts / seeds. Natural probiotic yoghurt contains beneficial bacteria which help to colonise your gut, therefore ridding the body of pathogenic (bad) bacteria. The balance of gut bacteria can hugely affect your ability to fight off infections as it is your first line of defence for the immune system.
Top your bowl of live probiotic yoghurt with some fruit rich in antioxidants, such as mango. The orange colour of mango is from the beta-carotene content which converts to vitamin A in the body, giving great immune-boosting effects in the body.
Nuts and seeds are extremely nutrient dense, providing a great source of vitamin E, essential fatty acids and much more. Try to alternate the type of nuts and seeds you eat, to include almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds and linseeds.

4. Smoked salmon, poached eggs and spinach. Smoked salmon is another oily fish which contains a good source of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. Try to opt for wild salmon as the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 is more favourable in wild fish, thereby exerting greater anti-inflammatory effects on the body and supporting your ability to fight off illness.
Spinach contains huge amounts of vitamin K and vitamin A amongst many other nutrients which are beneficial for immune health, so add some lightly sautéed spinach to your breakfast. Raw is also great if you prefer it this way.

5. Oat milk smoothies. Oat milk is a great base for smoothies as it has a thick, smooth texture and the health benefits go far beyond cow’s milk for immune health. The beta-glucans (water-soluble fibre) found in oats may help to trigger the immune system and are also powerful antioxidants. Look for an oat milk brand with no added refined oils or sugars.
Blend oat milk with your fruit of choice (frozen bananas and cocoa powder go very well together). Bananas are a good source of prebiotics, which is the food for probiotics (the good bacteria) in the gut, so bananas can help to support a healthy balance.
To really ramp up the immune boosting properties of a smoothie, try adding 1 tsp. of manuka honey, which will not only give a lovely sweet taste, it may also offer antibacterial properties. The antibacterial component of manuka honey is called methylglyoxal, and to determine the strength of the antibacterial properties (labelled ‘unique manuka factor’ – UMF), try to choose a product listed as 10 or above (strength usually ranges from 5-20).

For more recipes from Kyla, please check out her website:

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