July 2017: the immune system

Our immune system is responsible for preventing and fighting infections, germs and cancer. Located throughout the body, it includes, amongst many others: the thyroid, adrenal glands, and the intestinal system. The appendix, which is generally thought to be useless, is made entirely of immune tissue and contains the best and most useful bacteria for the gut.

Symptoms of immune disorders are frequent sickness, allergies, tiredness and fatigue; blood disorders, inflammation or infection of the internal organs; digestive issues, delayed growth and slow development.

Reasons why the immune system may not be functioning properly are, for instance: emotional stress, poor sleep, viral or bacterial infection, drug therapy, blood transfusions, surgery, overtraining, UV and other forms of radiation. So do smoking, alcohol, excessive use of medicines (antibiotics), a sedentary life, obesity.
And of course: bad diet!

How we can help
The state of our immune system is of vital importance for our wellbeing – and we can do a lot about it ourselves.

FOOD
Even small changes will make a big difference.
Try ditch processed foods, the usual culprit. Sugary snacks, soda, fried foods and red meats are best avoided. See [1].
Most lists of immune-boosting foods contain yoghurt, garlic, honey, mushrooms, tea, coloured vegetables, chicken soup and Ceylon or true cinnamon – see for yourself [2].

CLEANLINESS
We tend to be too clean! Both advertising and peer pressure make us clean ourselves and our environment far more than necessary. Not only do we damage the natural protection of microbes on our skin, we also add dangerous substances like triclosan, which is now found in practically all cleaning products [3]. For children in particular, it is important to come in contact with dirt. If you have been exposed to a variety of germs in your early years, you are far less likely to get allergies and asthma later [4].
And do we really need a shower every day? More and more, experts are coming to a different conclusion.
Some researchers think that by washing our skin on a daily basis we could be scrubbing off a natural shield. The harmless bacteria on our skin help form a barrier against microbes that are potentially harmful, says Elizabeth Grice from the University of Pennsylvania. They protect us, they educate the immune system, modulate the immune and inflammatory response and don’t allow pathogenic or opportunistic bacteria“ [5].
As well as getting a tiny bit dirtier, what else can you do? Lemon, cooking oil, vinegar and baking soda are just a few multipurpose cleaning items you may find in your closet. For how to use those, see [6].
As to shampoo – some do it differently. Heard of the No Poo movement? It’s not what you think …. [7].
And if you dislike the smell of Febreze type air fresheners, you’re absolutely right. Like so many similar products foisted upon us by the clean brigade, it produces a ‘fragrance’ which is both highly poisonous and impossible to get rid of [8].

Habits are very important, they keep us together in this life. But change is possible – and babysteps work!

EAT:
veg: beet, broad beans, carrots, chinese leaves, globe artichokes, kohlrabi, cauli, cabbage, (sugar) peas, beans, lettuce, sweetcorn, turnips, courgettes, broccoli, spring onions, squash, radish, tomatoes, samphire, spinach (beet), chard, endive.
fish: mackerel is at its best in July, cheap and an invaluable source of omega 3. Otherwise: dab, black bream, crab, mackerel, clam, dover sole, megrim sole, grey mullet, flounder and American signal crayfish.
meat: lamb, rabbit, wood pigeon.

SOW:
Chinese/spring cabbage, calabrese, carrots, chicory, coriander, endive, florence fennel, kohlrabi, salad onions, (mangetout/sugar snap) peas, mooli, pak choi, turnips, black and white radish (mooli), perpetual spinach, chard, parsley, beetroot, french beans, mini cauliflower, lettuce*.
End of the month: corn salad, black radish, endive, kohlrabi. Sowing kohlrabi late in July should supply them well into the winter. They will stand in the soil until needed.
Plant: kale, sprouts, leeks, winter cabbages, broccoli, calabrese, cauliflower.
*Remember: only crisp lettuce (little gem, cos, webb) germinates well when soil temperature goes above 25C.

FRENCH BEANS DIFFERENT, 2 servings.
250g French beans, stock, 2 tblsp fresh dill leaves, 2 tblsp chives, smallish onion, butter, pepper.
Mince dill and chives. Bring stock to the boil, add beans for 10 mins or until tender. Meanwhile, saute the onion in the butter. Pour the liquid off the beans, stir in chives and dill. Mix the bean mix with the sauteed onion, stir for a minute, season, done.

TOMATO and BERRY SALAD: an unusual combination, but both Mike and I liked it.
2 tbsp sherry or balsamic vinegar, 1 tbsp soy sauce, 4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, 300g really nice ripe tomatoes, 200g seasonal berries: raspberries, blackberries, gooseberries, redcurrants, blueberries, white currants, chopped or left whole depending on size; 100g stale bread, 1 tbsp butter, seasoning. Fresh herbs like basil, dill, tarragon, parsley, chervil, chives, nasturtium.
Cut up the tomatoes, rather fine. Combine vinegar, soy and oil.
Gently toast the the breadcrumbs in a hot pan, add butter and keep toasting until golden. Season, let cool. Mix tomatoes and berries with the herbs and the dressing. Scatter with crumbs. (Nuno Mendes, Guardian)

MACKEREL with BROCCOLI and SPICY ANCHOVY SAUCE for 2.
Mackerel and broccoli for two; 3 anchovy fillets, 2 garlic cloves, 1 chilli (or powder), olive oil, (rosemary).
Chop three anchovy fillets, two cloves of garlic and one red chilli – mash to a near-paste. Melt the paste in a small frying pan with 2 tblsp of butter. Meanwhile, grill or sauté the mackerel in oil. Top with rosemary if you have it. Don’t add salt, because the sauce will supply that. Steam the broccoli, drain, then stir it into the anchovy sauce. Serve next to the mackerel.
Best with plain cooked potatoes, methinks.

LAMB’s HEART
A lovely cheap and easy dish, as long as you prepare beforehand. Every lamb has a heart, so if you ask your butcher he may well come up with one, if only from the freezer.
450g lamb or beef hearts.
For the marinade: 2 tblsp balsamic vinegar, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp ground black pepper and 1tsp thyme.
Trim the heart(s) and cut in 1.5 – 2cm cubes. Marinate for at for least 8 hrs. Grill, spreading out into a single layer, and let brown for a minute or two. Toss and let brown on the other sides for another minute; remove. Delicious.
For more recipes see June issues from former years – click on June 2017 on the right hand side.

If you’re lucky enough to have lots of parsley, try this parsley salad, It is not actually a salad in that you eat lots of it: best used as a sidedish/condiment with meat or fish.
PARSLEY SALAD
50g flat-leaf parsley (weighed without too much stem), 50g finely chopped red onion, 2 tbsp rinsed capers, 12 anchovy fillets, 50g chopped tomatoes, lemon zest, lemon juice, 4 tbsp extra virgin olive  oil, salt, pepper.
Chop parsley and fish, mix everything, season.
This is great to serve on toast, mixed with pasta or as a side dish with grilled chicken or fish.

LETTUCE MASH! for 3-4.  
What to do when you have bolting lettuces but not much else? Try this:
800g potatoes, 200g (just bolting) lettuce, 300g peas (after podding), 60g butter, salt.
Cook potatoes in not too much salted water; add peas 5 minutes before they are done. Add chopped lettuce, stir in and heat through thoroughly, drain, season. Add butter, mash.

Next issue: did you know?

[1] https://authoritynutrition.com/9-ways-that-processed-foods-are-killing-people/
http://www.healthy-eating-politics.com/processed-foods.html http://edition.cnn.com/2015/07/07/health/western-diet-health/index.html http://myeclinik.com/processed-foods-destroy-immune-system-scientists-confirmed/
http://healthimpactnews.com/2014/processed-foods-hurt-your-immune-system-and-gut-health/
http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=faq&dbid=24
https://www.savorylotus.com/real-food-basics/
http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/5-foods-that-destroy-your-immune-system/. However: red meat is ok if you eat it with all the bits and pieces: organs and fat. It’s the ‘steaks only’ habit which messes you up, see http://www.marksdailyapple.com/dairy-fat-healthy-paleo-primal/.

[2] http://www.trueactivist.com/10-best-foods-to-boost-your-immune-system/ https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2015/01/eat-these-foods-to-boost-your-immune-system/
http://www.foxnews.com/health/2015/01/10/6-foods-to-boost-your-immune-system.html
http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/02/06/immune-system-foods_n_1257903.html
http://www.cinnamonandhoney.com/Immune-System.html
http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/top-10-immune-system-boosters/

[3] https://www.downtoearth.org/articles/2009-03/34/harsh-reality-household-cleaners
http://www.ethicalconsumer.org/ethicalreports/householdcleaningproductsreport/toxicchemicals.aspx
http://www.healthywomen.org/content/blog-entry/whats-hiding-your-soap-four-toxic-ingredients-avoid
http://www.purezing.com/living/toxins/living_toxins_dangerousingredients.html
https://www.foe.co.uk/resource/press_releases/new_warning_on_triclosan_t
http://allergiesandyourgut.com/tag/detergents/
http://naturalhealthway.com/articles/chemicals.html
https://experiencelife.com/article/8-hidden-toxins-whats-lurking-in-your-cleaning-products/

[4] http://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/kids-and-dirt-germs#1

[5] http://www.healthnutnews.com/no-shampoo-trend-healthy-harmful/
http://it-takes-time.com/2015/03/19/4-ways-to-protect-your-skin-microbiome/

[6] http://earth911.com/living-well-being/health/cleaning-vinegar-baking-soda-lemon/
http://www.homedit.com/killer-homemade-cleaners-made-vinegar-baking-soda-lemon/
http://www.hgtv.com/design/decorating/clean-and-organize/9-homemade-cleaning-products
https://www.mouthsofmums.com.au/natural-cleaning-31-amazing-uses-for-baking-soda-lemon-and-vinegar/#vkPR55xHpZmEzWCB.97
and many others! Just search for ‘healty cleaning agents’. Or buy them from a wholefood shop!

[7] https://www.nopoomethod.com/Water-Only
http://www.seventeen.com/beauty/a29092/i-havent-shampooed-my-hair-in-six-years/

[8] http://www.sustainablebabysteps.com/febreze.html

 

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