How To Support Your Immune System, Plus a Coconut Water Kefir Recipe

In these unprecedented times, we’re looking for anything that will make us feel a little more control of our health. And, while there are still so many unknowns, one thing we CAN do is look after our health and support our immune system,

We spoke to Kriben Govender, Food Scientist, Registered Nutritionist and Founder of Nourishme Organics, to find out some simple ways we can all support our immune systems including some easy homemade remedies. Remember — 80% of immune system is located in your gut, so what you consume is crucial to ensuring your immune system is fully supported.

Here’s what Govender recommends, and a simple recipe for boosting your gut health and immunity all at once.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an antioxidant that optimises the whole immune system and the Mitochondria, which are the ‘batteries’ that power the cells in our body.

A great source of the vitamin C is paprika, as well as berries, lemons, limes and citrus fruits. The Kakadu plum, native to Australia, and the Camu Camu fruit have one of the highest concentrates of vitamin C. Fermented cabbage, otherwise known as Sauerkraut, is also loaded with vitamin C and easily made at home with minimal additional ingredients/ tools.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A strengthens the lining of the tube systems within your body, such as the gut lining and the lungs, to ensure they can work effectively and support the immune system. Cod liver oil, beef liver, sheep liver and carrots are all rich sources of vitamin A.

Vitamin D

A recent study showed that a higher level of humidity and sunlight, decreased the transmission of influenza. Another study also revealed that a vitamin D deficiency could effect the microbiome and immune system.

The easiest way to get your daily dose of vitamin D is through exposure to sunlight. This doesn’t mean baking yourself for hours in the sun, it just means exposure for a few minutes a day, usually in the middle of the day. Try going for a 10-minute walk at lunchtime.

The time of day, time of year and angle of the sun can all effect how much vitamin D you can access from the sun at any one time. The useful app D Minder provides a rough approximation of how much vitamin D you can gain from the sunlight throughout the day. It also offers prompts of when you will get the best access to vitamin D from the sunlight.

Other effective ways to boost your general health and immunity include:

Get Enough Sleep

When we sleep, our body rests, repairs and regenerates. It’s an essential time for our body to heal and fight off disease.

Exercise

Exercise puts added pressure on the mitochondria to create energy. If you’re worried about immune function, engage in just moderate to light forms of exercise to lower the possible stress on the mitochondria and immune system.

Eat oysters

Oysters are rich in Zinc, which is commonly known to suppress viruses, and they are also high in Omega 3 fatty acids, which help promote the general wellbeing of your gut where the majority of your immune system sits.

Fibre Diversity is Key

It’s important to eat a wide variety of dietary fibres. Different fibres work in different ways and they each provide their own health benefits. Eating a variety of fibre, including resistant starch can help to improve gut health and provide that vital support for our immune systems. Don’t eat the same thing over and over again. Try to pick something new each week. Some good sources of resistant starch include wholegrain cereals, starchy vegetables, lentils, chickpeas, baked beans, red kidney beans, nuts and firm bananas.

Ferment those Veg

A recent study showed that L.plantarum, a probiotic found in fermented vegetables, has an antiviral effect against Influenza A. The process of fermentation can also help to increase the bioavailability of some nutrients, which helps the body to absorb more of the vitamins and minerals. Fermented foods are also rich in vitamin B and vitamin K, which are vital to a healthy immune system.

You can simply ferment veg at home with little equipment and effort, and this will ensure that you will reap the rewards of all the nutrients, as it will be fresh.

Probiotics and Prebiotics

Probiotic foods with good bacteria, can help to support the gut lining which helps to support the immune system. When there is a lack of good bacteria in the gut, other forms of bad bacteria may be allowed to grow causing inflammation and compromising the immune system.

Probiotics are naturally found in a number of foods and drinks, including yoghurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, kefir and kombucha. There are also a number of supplements available, with varying degrees of effectiveness.

Prebiotics feed the probiotics bacteria, enabling it to work more effectively. Prebiotics are naturally found in a wide range of foods, including bananas, asparagus, artichokes (both Globe and Jerusalem), onion, garlic, flaxseeds, oats, wheat, barley, green vegetables, goji berries and honey. Raw apple cider vinegar (with “The Mother”) is also classified as a prebiotic.

Increasing your probiotic intake over time can improve your overall gut health, and nutrient absorption from the foods you eat. In turn, this boosts your digestive health, immunity and overall wellbeing. But because many prebiotic foods are high in fibre (prebiotics are fibre-rich in nature), adding too many at once can lead to issues such as gas, bloating and uncomfortable bowl movements – it’s all about balance.

Kefir

Traditional milk kefir (pronounced “keh-FEER”) has over three times the amount of probiotics that yogurt has, and is filled with vitamin B and vitamin K vitamin, which are vital to a healthy immune system.

As well as being a natural immune booster, Scientific research demonstrates six major health benefits from drinking traditional milk kefir. You can experience a healthier heart and cardiovascular system, decreased inflammation and faster healing, improved digestion and better gut health, faster metabolism and easier weight loss, enhanced brain function, antimicrobial activity, lower blood sugar and appetite suppression.

One of the best things about milk kefir is that it’s simple and inexpensive to make at home, and home-made kefir actually retains significantly more of its health benefits than any store-bought kefir.

Coco Pom Water Kefir Recipe

Coconut Water Kefir is a refreshing, delicious, gut-loving fermented drink rich in beneficial Lactobacillus bacteria and B Vitamins. It is a great alternative to sugary soft drinks and juices with most of the sugar being consumed by the bacteria during the fermentation. Coconut Water Kefir can be made very economically at home with reusable water kefir grains, sugar and coconut water.

Ingredients

• 15g water kefir grains

• 15g sugar

• 500ml of coconut water

You will also need a glass jar for fermenting and a glass bottle for store

Instructions

1. Pour coconut water into a glass jar and add 15g of sugar, stir thoroughly to dissolve

2. Add 15g water kefir grains

3. Cover the glass jar loosely with a lid or tea cloth.

4. Leave the glass jar on a countertop or cupboard for 24 hours

5. After 24 hours strain the coconut water kefir through a mesh strainer, pouring the liquid into a separate bottle and retaining the water kefir grains to reuse

6. Restart the process again with the reserved water kefir grains by starting at step one

7. Using the coconut water kefir, you have reserved in a bottle, add to it approximately 100ml of pomegranate juice

8. Cap the bottle, chill and serve with ice cubes

For further advice, tips and access to the gut health products such as home fermenting kits and cultures, kefir grains, probiotics, prebiotics, supplements and more, visit www.nourishmeorganics.com.au

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