A perfect meal for your immune system

F8748667-33C0-4803-BB58-EDEA7C052FED_1_201_aThis super-easy meal is a must for anybody wanting good immune health. I will give you the recipe first and then the science-bit afterwards.

Firstly, I must give complete credit to Mr Michael Ash, who is one of our guru’s in nutritional gut immune research. He’s one of the experts behind the scenes of the BBC Series “Doctor in the House” presented by GP, Dr Rangan Chatterjee. Michael is an osteopath, Nutritionalist and a faculty member of the Institute of Functional Medicine. This is his recipe and his research, I’m just sharing it with you now, because it’s a perfect time to be eating a bowl of this every day, to support your immune system.

If you’ve read my last blog on phytochemicals, you’ll now know that apples belong to the flavonoid group of phytochemicals. The meal is basically stewed apples with special immune supporting ingredients added. I’ve made a 2-minute video for you on my New Dawn Health Facebook page here.

Ingredients to cook:

  • 6 Bramley cooking apples
  • ½ (120ml) cup of water
  • ½ cup raisins or sultanas
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon


Peel and core the apples and chop into thin slices. Pop them in a saucepan, along with all the other ingredients above and gently cook until the apple pieces are soft. The cinnamon will make it look brown, don’t worry. Once cooked, add these special ingredients to turn it into a perfect immune-supporting meal:

  • A teaspoon of prebiotic larch arabinogalactans (more on this later)
  • A opened capsule of saccharomyces boulardii
  • A capsule or sprinkle of your favourite probiotic supplement
  • A good dollop of live yoghurt (dairy, soy or coconut)
  • Some blueberries and some almonds (skin on)
  • A little Manuka honey, if desired

So what makes the combination of these ingredients into a perfect meal for your immune system?


  • have been shown to reduce rhinitis and asthma and act like an anti-histamine to decrease the likelihood of allergic and intolerance reactions
  • are high in polyphenols and antioxidants
  • reduce DNA damage and help your immune cells to mature properly
  • protect your intestine from too much inflammation
  • contain soluble fibre, which we can’t digest, but our beneficial gut bacteria love the fibre. They ferment it in the colon to make butyrate, which in turn strengthens our intestinal barrier and limits the movement of unwanted bacteria into our blood stream
  • support your “good” bacteria, particularly the species Bacteroidetes, which help to keep you at an optimum weight
  • contain pectin which helps to keep your stool soft, yay!


  • helps to mature dendritic white blood cells and calm them down a little, so they are less likely to raise the inflammatory alarm
  • reduces your insulin response to the natural sugars in the apples, so this makes this meal good for diabetics and anybody else looking to keep their blood sugar levels steady (that should be all of us!)
  • us anti-microbial, anti-oxidant, anti-tumor, cholesterol-lowering, cardiovascular and immune-system supporting – wow!

Live yoghurt…

  • can lower inflammatory cytokine messages and of course contains the beneficial bacteria for our immune system


  • when combined with yoghurt, have been shown to reduce colitis (inflammation of the colon), in 10 days, impressive!

Larch arabinogalactans…

  • These are “prebiotics”, or food for your beneficial bacteria
  • you can buy it here

Saccharomyces Boulardii…

  • can help with diarrhoea, IBS and inflammation of the colon
  • reduces inflammatory signals, reduces the toxic effects from clostridium difficile infections, reduces helicobacter pylori infections, yeasts and other gut infections
  • improves your immune responses in many ways
  • you can buy it and another good probiotic here

Manuka honey…

  • has been used to help the treatment of antibiotic resistant organisms in the gut, so if you know this may relate to you, please include


  • provide protein and beneficial fats to support balanced immune cell behaviour


Please enjoy, because now you know why an apple a day really does keep the doctor away!

Phytochemicals are Information

abundance agriculture bananas batch

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

You’ve no doubt heard the quotation from Hippocrates, “food is medicine”.

Yes, food is medicine, but it’s also information. The concept of “food is information” comes from the famous professor of biochemistry, Dr Jeffrey Bland, who is considered by many to be the father of Functional Medicine. It’s this information and the positive influences it can have on your immune system that I want to explore and share with you today.

Put very simply, food sends information signals to your genes. Your cells are continually interacting with the food molecules that come into your body. Certain foods cause a beneficial effect, some are neutral, while others are negative.

So why do you care? I assume, because you want a healthy immune system right now. You want to know what you can do to create more resilience in your immune system.

To that end, I want to introduce you to the information passed onto your genes from phytochemicals. “Phyto” means “plant”, so “phytochemicals” means, “plant chemicals”. Some people call them phytonutrients, just to emphasise their importance. Plants make these chemicals to protect themselves from infection and damage. You could liken them to natural pesticides.

By consuming phytochemicals in our diet, science has shown they have beneficial effects on our health. They act as antioxidants, influence our immune cells and are anti-inflammatory. For example, the phytochemical in black pepper, Peperine, increases white blood cell count and antibody production. Curcumin in turmeric is anti-inflammatory. Allicin is the phytochemical in garlic that gives it its characteristic odour, antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties. Lycopene is the phytochemical in tomatoes (which by the way, is enhanced by cooking the tomatoes) that gives them their red colour, are particularly important for immune health. Research suggests that the phytochemicals in green vegetables ensure that white blood cells in the gut’s intestinal lining work properly. So please enjoy your rocket, asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, Pak Choi, romaine lettuce, spinach, swiss chard and watercress.

Just be aware that there are many different phytochemical groups and many different chemical compounds within those groups, which can make this whole topic quite confusing. Here are some phytochemical groups that are known to benefit the immune system specifically:

  • Curcumin – Turmeric root and powder
  • Catechins – Green tea, black tea, Oolong tea, berries, cocoa
  • Carotenoids – Sweet potato, bell pepper, carrots, tomatoes, green leafy vegetables
  • Quercetin – Onions, apples, berries, broccoli, citrus,
  • Resveratrol – Grapes, berries, nuts, peanuts

Phytochemicals give plants their deep colours, so as a general rule of thumb, choose the ones with the deepest colour, like blueberries, cranberries, beetroot, sweet potato and ripe tomatoes. Choose every colour of the rainbow, purple, red, orange, yellow, green, tan and white and put two, three or more foods of each colour in your shopping trolley. When you consume these foods you’ll be feeding your beneficial gut bacteria with lots of natural fibre and in turn those bacteria help you extract the phytochemicals from the foods. Nature is so clever!

You’ll be pleased to hear that phytochemicals are anti-ageing too. A 2013 study published in the Journal of Nutrition found a link between high polyphenol (a phytochemical group) consumption and a 30 percent decrease in mortality in elderly adults.

You’re no doubt thinking, that’s great, but how do I make this work for me? Well firstly you choose the rainbow of coloured fruits and vegetables when you go shopping; secondly you can have my immune-supporting recipe book here and thirdly, if you want personalised menu plans and recipes please contact me at dawn@newdawnhealth.co.uk

To your best health,

Dawn 🙂


Brindha, P., 2016. Role of phytochemicals as immunomodulatory agents: A review. International Journal of Green Pharmacy (IJGP)10(1).

Ding, S., Jiang, H. and Fang, J., 2018. Regulation of immune function by polyphenols. Journal of immunology research2018.https://www.hindawi.com/journals/jir/2018/1264074/

Li, Y., Innocentin, S., Withers, D.R., Roberts, N.A., Gallagher, A.R., Grigorieva, E.F., Wilhelm, C. and Veldhoen, M., 2011. Exogenous stimuli maintain intraepithelial lymphocytes via aryl hydrocarbon receptor activation. Cell147(3), pp.629-640.

Ying Li, Silvia Innocentin, David R. Withers, Natalie A. Roberts, Alec R. Gallagher, Elena F.

Zamora-Ros, R., Rabassa, M., Cherubini, A., Urpí-Sardà, M., Bandinelli, S., Ferrucci, L. and Andres-Lacueva, C., 2013. High concentrations of a urinary biomarker of polyphenol intake are associated with decreased mortality in older adults. The Journal of nutrition143(9), pp.1445-1450.