Simon’s Simples: Convalescent Food

Convalescent Food

When your body is in ‘self healing’ mode you need to support it with the right food types. Actually a healthy body is always in self-healing mode – it is a self-healing mechanism. But when you are ill it needs foods that are easily and quickly assimilated and contain a balance of good proteins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats and amino acids. Being extra kind to your body helps it recover. Supporting your immune system in what it wants to do is a quick way to recovery.

If it takes all your energy to digest food it is going to slow down your recovery, so meals containing ‘the right stuff’ to support your recovery are essential. It is easy to supplement your food with some helpful herbs and spices. The huge range of herbal teas can help support recovery, drawing on ancient remedies with their origins back in the mists of time. Including honey and lemon with these add bacteriacides to natural and non-toxic treatments. Foods such as oats, beans, lentils and fruit and vegetables release their carbohydrate energy more steadily than sugary or starchy foods, helping to maintain energy. These foods also contain fibre that helps the digestive and elimination process. Combine carbohydrate with protein for a good energy base.

On the (rare) occasion that I feel ‘off my food’ I usually turn to a lightly scrambled egg (organic), which is unique as a food because it contains all the amino acids you need to digest it. I have this on a small piece of rye toast with some sprouting fenugreek seeds, a simple but harmonious meal that is a good balance of proteins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats and amino acids. Similarly a thin porridge with fruit is a good balance of food elements that will support the body in its recovery. I prefer blueberries but any fresh or dried fruit that is high in antioxidants will help speed recovery.

Dairy products, meat, fish, hemp seed and eggs contain protein and amino acids which help to repair cells and make illness-fighting antibodies, enzymes and hormones. You will also find protein in nuts and seeds, whole grains, soya, lentils and beans. Almond nut milk is very gentle on a poorly tummy. Think of what you are able to eat, but moderate it with the healthy options!

In some ways – your body knows what it needs and if this part of you is still ‘open’ – don’t ignore your desires for healthy options.

You need eight ‘essential amino acids’ in a balanced diet and a healthy body actually makes another twelve. Good food combinations are the key to get these. Soups and potages, broths, gruels and sprouting seeds are all easily digestible and can contain a mixture of food elements.

Good quality fats can help lower blood cholesterol levels and work against heart disease and weight problems. Far too many commercially prepared foods still contain saturated fats and hydrogenated oils that wreak havoc on a body. Check the labels for these and replace them with monounsaturated fats and essential fats such as omega-3 and omega-6. Moderate your fat intake in a healing diet. Your body needs slightly less than a gram a day of omega-3, which is readily available in nuts and seeds. A salad dressing made from cold-pressed olive, walnut and linseed oils will also give your body omega-3 and omega-6 essential fats.

Live yogurt is another easily digestible food that supports the body’s recovery, especially after antibiotics, because it helps to replace the intestinal flora. Combine this with a fruit of your choice. If you are on medication, ask your doctor about compatible foods – some of the best doctors are switched on to this.

Antioxidants, which help to eliminate harmful free-radicals, include some of the vitamins, namely vitamin C and E and beta carotene. Check out the ‘Power Foods’ section for some of these. Minerals such as selenium and zinc also work as antioxidants.

Brazil nuts in particular are rich in selenium. Pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds contain a good measure of zinc and are a useful addition to the convalescent food diet. These are easily powdered in a liquidiser and can be added to gruels, soups and stews as a thickener if you can’t stand solid foods. Choose fresh, natural, preferably organic food sources to get a good amount of minerals, phytochemicals and phytonutrients. Usually the more intensely coloured a fruit or vegetable – the higher its level of phytonutrients.

Soups are a Godsend to a weakened immune system because they are easily assimilated into the body, taking little energy to digest. Next is a recipe for a super, immune-boosting soup that can help put an ailing system back on the road to recovery.