One good thing about our cool, wet spring weather is the bumper crop of morel mushrooms we have been harvesting at our cottage. This is the first year we have seen them, in fact I was not sure what kind of mushrooms they were and whether or not they are edible. So, I sent an SOS (and picture) to the “all things nature related” expert, my cousin John in Missouri. Whatever would we do without our handy cell phones?
He sent me this link so I could read up on these delicious discoveries before we sauteed them up in butter for dinner. We did wait until we were in the (relative) safety of our home to try them as the cottage is a bit far from any hospital. I am happy (and alive) to report cousin John was right, morel mushrooms are quite yummy. Lots of work though, to clean them up, as their brain-like crevices hold lots of dirt.
As the (miserable) cool, wet weather continued into June, we are taking some consolation in the fact we have had three weekly harvests of these morel mushrooms now, each collection larger than the last. At first they were hard to find; now we know what to look for and where to find these beauties. And also to check that their stems are hollow, an important characteristic that distinguishes them from their more sinister cousins.
This week has been much warmer, finally some summer weather, so that may be the end of our mushroom harvesting for this year.
To ensure optimal health, everyone, especially pregnant women, should look to proper nutrition and exercise. To do so, we must be aware of what foods we eat as many are better than others at promoting a healthy immune system to ward off possible pathogens that may affect us. As well as drinking eight to ten glasses of water per day, we can add the following foods to our daily diets to promote a healthy immune system.
Like other orange-colored vegetables, sweet potatoes contain beta carotene which is turned into vitamin A in our bodies. Vitamin A is important in the production of connective tissue which is primarily what our skin is made up of. Since our skin is the first line of defense protecting the rest of our bodies from viruses and bacteria that could harm us, the vitamin A derived from sweet potatoes keeps our skin healthy.
Mushrooms are known to increase the production and activity of our white blood cells. Since our white blood cells are what fights off infection in our bodies, more aggressive white cells and an increased production of them means less chance of bacterial or viral infections. Shitake, reishi and maitake mushrooms are considered the best at producing white blood cells. Add them to pizza, pasta sauces, eggs, soups and more.
The mineral zinc is found in large quantities in beef. Zinc is necessary in the development of our white blood cells, an important component in our immune systems that recognizes and destroys pathogens like viruses and bacteria from our bodies. Even a mild zinc deficiency can increase the risk of infection drastically.
The active but harmless bacterial cultures in yogurt called probiotics keep germs that we do get exposed to from settling in our stomachs and intestines. These germs do not get a chance to settle and grow stronger because the probiotics in yogurt cause our food to move through our bodies faster. Any infections we may encounter will therefore be much less severe with fewer symptoms and a quicker recovery.
Oats and Barley
These well-known grains contain beta glucan fiber which has anti-microbial and anti-oxidant roles in boosting our immune systems. The increased fiber in our diet from these grains also helps move food, as well as any pathogens encountered, through our systems faster, resulting in fewer infections. Oats and barley are present in many cereals and breads.
Both black and green teas are known to contain L-thianine, an amino acid that produces interferon which in turn fights viruses. Since these teas are made with water, they also provide an increased boost to the immune systems because adequate water consumption is essential to flushing our systems of viral and bacterial pathogens.
Keeping our immune systems working well is crucial for everyone, but especially important for pregnant women. In the third trimester of pregnancy a woman’s immune system is naturally suppressed so that the fetus will not be recognized as a foreign object and rejected. It is therefore imperative that a pregnant woman keep her immune system in peak condition by eating the proper foods throughout the pregnancy.