Bolster Your Immunity

illustration of a lady from behind meditating

Unprecedented times hey? Quarantine, home schooling and no toilet paper! It’d be nice to have 2019 back don’t you think?

Failing that, we think it’s important that we focus on the positives and what we can do to bolster our immunity, to come out the other side of this pandemic fighting fit! 

We caught up, via Skype, with Naturopath and Nutritionist, Lulu Kempton to ask how she recommends we strengthen our immune systems and stay positive.  

Lulu in a time of major uncertainty and no real answers on how to fight COVID-19, is there anything we can do to help our bodies stay as well as possible?

There sure is! There’s no time like now to start making positive changes for our health. As a naturopath and nutritionist, I look at a holistic way of fighting infection and illness, this involves looking at the body as a whole. Holistic health includes looking at each of the body systems (such as the immune system, nervous system or the digestive system) and seeing how they are impacting each other.

Holistic health means that you are treating the body as a whole and looking at the root cause. By using a holistic health approach you are taking charge of your body. You have one body to live in, therefore why not make it function to the best of its ability. 

In terms of COVID-19, ultimately the best approach is to strengthen our immune systems so our body is ready to protect.  

What is our immune system and how does it work?
The immune system is spread throughout the body. It is made up of lymphatic tissue and organs such as your skin, bone marrow, lymph nodes, thalamus and spleen. When we talk about the immune system, think of the word protection. Our immune system’s role is to protect the body from harmful substances, germs or cell changes that have the potential to make you ill. When performing to its best ability, the immune system will fight diseases such as viruses, or parasites and it will recognise and protect from harmful invasions by triggering an immune response.

We have two structures in the immune system; the first one is the innate immune system which is non specific, the one we are born with.The innate system protects via using immune cells in the skin and digestive system which will react immediately upon interaction with a foreign invader. The second is the adaptive immune system, also known as the specific immune system, which we develop throughout life particularly as kids when our bodies are exposed to microbes, chemicals and foods. The adaptive immune system kick starts over days or weeks and it remembers invading pathogens that the body might have come into contact with in the past.

The immune system is constantly working to protect you against the effects of microbial pathogens we face on a daily basis. It is important to be constantly aware of supporting your immune system so that it is well equipped with the nutrients needed for protection against infections, viruses and allergies including food or environmental. 

How do we go about strengthening our immune systems?
Most of us know that it’s important to eat a healthy diet with a wide range of ingredients per day. At times when we need to bolster our immune system it’s particularly important to ensure your diet includes;

  • Zinc: Zinc’s role in our immune system is crucial, it works on a cellular level to decrease inflammatory cytokines (protein released by our bodies) which can make our bodies more susceptible to viruses, infections and disease. Zinc is found in oysters, shellfish, cashews, legumes, hemp seeds and pumpkin seeds. 
  • Vitamin C: Well known for building the immune system. Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that works on the body's defence system. Vitamin C should be used preventatively as well as when the immune system is compromised. Vitamin C is commonly found in brussel sprouts, tomatoes, strawberries, capsicum, oranges and kiwi fruit.

  • Drink plenty of water: Water will help to alkaline your system, aid your liver to detoxify and excrete waste products and toxins. 
  • Antioxidants / Eat the rainbow: Choosing all sorts of colours in the diet will ensure you are getting enough antioxidants. Antioxidants protect our cells against free radicals, free radicals are molecules produced when our body is exposed to foreign particles. Superfoods are high in antioxidants so load up on blueberries, hemp seeds, ginger, raspberries, strawberries, capsicum, artichoke, goji berries, kale, spinach, beetroot, cacao, cabbage, eggplant. 
  • Essential fatty acids: Omega 3 & 6 have important immune regulatory functions, they help our cells recover from inflammation, so a diet rich in Essential Fatty Acids will assist the immune system make a speedy recovery should it be compromised.EFA’s can be found in hemp seeds, hemp oil, wild caught fish, nuts and seeds. 

  • Protein: Protein is the building blocks of our body. It creates antibodies, builds and protects cells and is imperative for our good health. So it’s vital that we keep up our protein levels to maintain good health. Hemp has a complete protein profile including essential amino acids that your body can not make itself and therefore is crucial for the diet. Protein is also found in meats, hemp, legumes, lentils, beans. 
  • Herbs: Some of our tiniest plants offer up the biggest bolster to our immunity. Elderberries, Echinacea, Garlic, Olive leaf, Oregano, Astragalus, Thyme are all terrific antivirals and immune supporting herbs. Most can be found in liquid form, tablets and syrups. 

  • Probiotics: Probiotics are live microorganisms that enhance your gut health and support your immune system by keeping the sensitive flora in our stomachs happy. A large portion of the immune system is based in the gut. Whilst it’s important to ask a health professional which probiotic supplement is best for you, probiotics can commonly be found in sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi, miso, tempeh and pickles. 

  • Prebiotics: Found in fibrous foods, prebiotics support the good bacteria or good probiotics that you already have in your gut, they will feed the good guys, help them flourish and keep them functioning the way they should. Our Hemp Balance is a great source of probiotic fibre and a great way to boost your prebiotic intake for the day. Prebiotics are found in hemp balance, onions, garlic, asparagus, leek, globe artichoke. 

Wow, that’s an epic list where do we begin? 
It sounds like a lot, but really it’s simple, make a conscious effort when making food choices, remembering food is a medicine and what we decide to eat can truly help us remain healthy.

There are some very real benefits of consuming hemp, it is high in protein, fatty acids, fibre, magnesium, zinc and all the vitamins and minerals you need to help boost and protect your immune system. It is an optimal health food and will help bolster health and wellness if eaten regularly.

So how would we include Hemp in our diet daily Lulu?
Smoothies are a simple and speedy way to get a boost of goodness into our systems and hemp complements them perfectly! My immune boosting smoothie recipe is below, but you can do no wrong by swapping and changing different fruit and veg when it suits. 

Hemp Immune Boosting Smoothie Recipe:

1 cup of spinach or kale
½ cup of wild Blueberries
2 tablespoons of Hemp Protein

1 Tablespoon of Hemp Seeds
1 Tablespoon or ¼ of a fresh ginger
1-2 peeled kiwi fruit
1 cup of water
Optional: Zinc drops (follow directions on pack)

Remember, there’s no rules around how to exist during a pandemic and in a world of so many unknown’s, one thing we do know is that if we keep ourselves as healthy as possible, remain positive, show love and be grateful for little things, then we will get through this together.