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Winter Welness

Winter Wellness

I find the transition from summer to autumn/winter quite challenging. I get cold easily, especially my feet and hands, so I switch from eating smoothies and salads to soups and stews to keep me warm. I like to drink lots of ginger tea and I make sure I have a plentiful selection of merino wool socks! I am more prone to UTIs in the colder months. Research indicates that pure cranberry extract can help prevent UTIs so I start taking a cranberry supplement along with herbs that support the kidneys, such as golden rod and knotgrass.

In winter my skin tends to dry out from being inside centrally heated spaces. I prepare my skin by increasing omega 3 rich fats in my diet, and by moisturising with rich creams and oils (I love comfrey for this).

I like to plan fun things to look forward to during colder darker months such as concerts, hikes and dinner with friends. These things remind me there is a world outside my cosy living room and woolly socks are not my only item of footwear!

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The autumn is a great time to reorganise supplements and plan a health focus for the next few months. It’s always interesting to see what nature is doing, and take the clues from what it provides for us. Berries with their brilliant hues are predominant at the moment, and they provide heaps of nourishing flavonoids that support our circulatory system and keep our skin, eyes and mucous membranes healthy. I love reorganising my wardrobe too – bring on the cuddly coats and cosy pyjamas!

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My go-to herb for the winter months is Echinacea. This beautiful flower makes a magic herbal medicine: I am constantly in awe of how much she does for us!

One of the best herbal helpers found in most kitchens is good ol’ garlic! This delicious, vampire-dodging medicine is also great for treating infections, particularly those affecting the lungs. The reason we get garlic breath is that many of the healing phytochemicals are excreted through the lungs (along with the smell!).

For medicinal use, it is best to take garlic fresh and crush it. This increases the allicin content, a powerful defensive molecule in garlic that helps fight infection in our bodies. For best results, allow it to sit and oxidise for about 20 minutes after crushing it, before eating. Then knock it back with some water! This also increases the allicin content and makes it more powerful. I do recommend taking it with food as well, as it can be a bit harsh on an empty stomach!

Such a wonderful herbal medicine, so healing and so widely available; the only problem is it might give you dragon breath!

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In our greenhouses, we handle a large variety of seeds, all of different shapes and sizes. The smallest of these seeds is Centaurium, 100,000 of which weigh only 1g! The largest seeds are the artichokes, whose vigorous seedlings send down deep-reaching roots. The artichoke heart is eaten, and the immature flowers. If the flowers open and mature, they produce the beautiful blue-violet bloom you may recognise.


Alison Cullen

A.Vogel Picturepark & iStockphoto

Jade Martin

KennedySmith (Press) Ltd 2 Brewster Place, Irvine KA11 5DD

It is strictly forbidden to reproduce Healthy Way in full or in part without the written authorisation of the publisher.
WARNING: This document in no way precludes the necessity of a diagnosis from a health practitioner.


My health tip for the winter season (or any season for that matter!) is to get outside during the day. Although the colder weather doesn’t lend itself well to doing outdoor activities like gardening or gentle hiking, there are plenty of alternatives. You could dress up warmly and head out for a beach walk, fly a kite (these come in loads of fun shapes and sizes for adults and kids!) or hit a bat and ball about in the park. If you’re feeling really adventurous, winter is the perfect time to start a new activity. Why not see if you can get some skiing or snowboarding lessons at a dry ski slope? The light exposure you get outdoors, even if it’s not sunny, will support your winter mood; whilst the exercise increases your production of ‘happy’ hormones and helps you sleep better, which is great for your immune system.

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As the winter months roll in, I can’t wait to get cooking some hearty, warming dishes in the kitchen again. Has your mum or someone ever said to you, ‘It’s just too hot to cook!’? Well, unbearably hot kitchens, no more! Instead, you can revel in cooking some winter warmers and get your freezer stocked up with the result of some batch cooking. Warming stews, soups and one-pot dishes are fantastic filling options which you can pack full to the brim with nutritious, seasonal produce, then freeze any leftovers and defrost them as and when you need them. See my recipe on page 5 for inspiration!

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I tend to suffer from cold hands and feet even if it’s mildly cold so I have found over the years, that taking Hawthorn in the winter months can make a big difference. I usually start this about October. Echinacea is a must that I start taking around the same time.

It’s really important to keep exercise up as the autumn nights draw in. It can be really easy to not bother and just sit in the warm! I go to a local fitness class 2-3 times a week, whatever the weather. Last year, it had to be outside and I braved classes at night when it was -1; but it just makes you feel so good. Regular exercise promotes ‘happy chemicals’ in the brain which lifts our mood – this is vital in the dark days of winter up here in Scotland, where the sun sometimes doesn’t shine at all! I also check my diet to avoid adding more comfort foods, which can result in weight gain and cause sluggishness. I do have treats now and again though, as we need some things to look forward to, when all is cold, driech and grey.

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I love those first dry, bright and crisp ‘back to school’ September mornings. Reexperiencing cosy accoutrements like socks. Autumnal smells, rustling leaves, berries and conkers (chestnuts). One of my favourite things to do in autumn is to pick sloes (blackthorn berries), haws (hawthorn berries) and rosehips. It’s an excuse to spend the day in West Cork traipsing the lanes and hedgerows, and another in the kitchen, with my tunes, making preserves and sloe gin. Maximum smug factor.

The challenge then is not to oversample the gin before the winter season. Supplement-wise if I’m ever going to get a cold it’s September/October when all the schools and universities go back, so Echinacea (morning and evening) is my autumn number one followed by vitamin D in October (through to April). I love getting back into warming soups and traditional comfort foods like cottage pie.

I am studying for a degree by night so I need to be quite disciplined with my time when the term begins in October. I’m going to enjoy my last September evenings of freedom, plan to socialise as if going out of fashion and get as much mischief in as I can!

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Winter Welness