Are you looking to improve your immunity?

It’s thought that over 70% of our immune system is located in our gut, so it makes sense that if improved immunity is what you are looking for – then you need to get and keep your gut in great shape. Having good gut health will help to keep your immune system healthy, but it does not happen on its own, you need to put in a little effort, just like keeping your teeth healthy means you need to regularly clean your teeth, floss and have check-ups at the dentist.

The immune system and its relationship with our gut can be very complex. Following are a couple of examples of how the immune system and gut work and function to keep your immunity in great shape;

Your gut lining is a barrier that helps to keep bacteria and viruses at bay, the gut lining is made up of many different cells and immune complexes, keeping this healthy and functioning well will ensure that your immune system can stay healthy and do its job. When your gut lining is compromised it is sometimes known as leaky gut syndrome, bacteria, viruses, food proteins, yeasts and toxins leak through the compromised barrier, causing many gut problems, this also affects your immune system. Your stomach secretes acids; these acids are capable of killing bacteria and viruses if the acid levels are good. Often when we take medicines to reduce acid, the acid levels are not good enough to do this. So, you can see how the immune system is an important link between our gut and its influence with health and disease.

Gut health affects our immunity, our mental health and our physical health. In fact, having good gut health will really improve your life on so many levels, but what can you do if your gut is not healthy?

If you want to get your gut in better shape, I would suggest that you really need to look at what you are putting in your mouth.

Follow these simple guidelines as a start.

Limit foods such as wheat and dairy to one to two serves per week, as they can be inflammatory for your gut.

Reduce your alcohol intake to one to two units per week as alcohol does contribute to poor gut health.

Reduce your sugar intake as too much sugar will impair your immunity.

Review with your doctor the need for acid-reducing medications; a gut health naturopath will be well placed to help you discover the cause of the reflux.

Only take antibiotics when you have a bacterial infection, not a virus, your doctor will be able to help you assess this.

The optimal amount of foods for good gut health is forty different foods per week; this may be difficult to manage in the beginning, but it is a worthy goal to work towards. Start by eating as many different coloured foods as you can, widening your diet, trying new foods and recipes, try a new food a week. Strategies such as buying tri-coloured quinoa instead of white quinoa are great as that is classed as three different foods, rather than one. Add fresh herbs and spices to your foods such as ginger, garlic, thyme or any type of herb that can be grown in your garden.

Learn how to cook, if you know what you are putting in your mouth because you have made it yourself, your gut will love you for it.

If your gut health is not good, seek the help of a professional to get a better understanding of exactly what is going on, so you can take steps to improve your gut health and immunity.

There are also many vitamins and minerals that can help support your immune system, including zinc, Vitamins A, D and C.

Zinc is a mineral that is very important for gut and immune health; even a mild deficiency can result in an impaired immune response. Foods that are high in zinc include; meats, fish and poultry.

Vitamin D is also thought to play a role in maintaining the immune system. Fatty fish such as salmon, herring and mackerel are sources of Vitamin D as are eggs; it is difficult though to get adequate Vitamin D from foods. Ensuring that you spend some time in the sun away from the hottest part of the day is an excellent way to help with your D levels, however in most cases if your D is low supplementation is required.

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that helps to maintain immune function, and prevent infectious disease, especially in children. Most orange and yellow fruits and vegetables contain Vitamin A.

Vitamin C can help improve the function of the immune system and strengthen resistance to infection. Strawberries, citrus fruits and capsicums contain Vitamin C.

Your body is smart; it’s important to give it the respect it needs, ensure that you eat food that will keep your gut healthy, so you can absorb the vitamins and minerals from the foods you eat.

There are lots of ways a well-nourished body and healthy gut can promote your immunity.

Mistake # 4/5 – the 5 biggest mistakes people make with their gut health

Not keeping the problematic foods out of their diet properly.

 

Let me explain;

 

If you have a food intolerance, and a1 dairy is one of the foods that has been tested as being  problematic. It is essential that you remove every last skerrick of dairy from your diet, unless it specifically says it is a2. Most people understand that means no normal milk, cream, cheese or yogurt. It also means no chocolate (dairy milk chocolate) or dairy based (whey) protein powders. There can be lots of foods that you think are safe such as chips and rice crackers, but not all, balsamic flavoured rice crackers indicate on the label it contains dairy,  as a flavouring agent.

 

You will find many foods will contain dairy as a flavouring agent, once you are aware of this, you will start to read labels properly so you do not get caught out. Care needs to be taken with pasta sauces, salad dressings, and even wine. Some winemakers finish off their wines with either dairy, egg or fish products, and these will affect you if you have an intolerance to any of the them, a good way to get around this is to purchase vegan wine.

 

If the label says it contains dairy, milk powder, skim milk powder, casein, or whey, then it needs to be avoided, even a teaspoon of milk in your tea will be problematic. This is because a food intolerance or sensitivity is driven by your immune system, it is the IgG mediated part of your immune system, IgE is when you have a food allergy. Because it is mediated by your immune system, even minute amounts, such as wine fined with dairy, will cause an unwanted and uncomfortable reaction.

 

It sounds a bit daunting, but honestly, once you do your first shopping trip, you will know exactly what to buy and what not to buy. It all really depends on which foods are problematic, there are rules and guidelines for food intolerances, SIBO, fructose malabsorption and candida. Once you know which foods need to be removed, and see how easy it really is to remove the foods, you will love how you are feeling and will be easy to keep the foods out for your treatment time. If you are interested in finding out what is going on in your gut, make a time today for an appointment by clicking here.

 

 

mistake # 3/5 – the 5 biggest mistakes people make with their gut health

Implementing a FODMAP Diet

 

FODMAP diets are way too restrictive and do not remove the foods that are truly problematic. Many years ago I saw the creator of the diet speak at a conference and was a bit underwhelmed with the stats that were spoken about. Up to sixty percent of people that implement this diet will see a reasonable response.

Not sure about you but if I was going to implement such intense dietary restrictions I would be wanting better results than this. It is too generic and too hard in my opinion and what often happens if you go to a medical doctor is that they will suggest that you try a low FODMAP diet due to the lack of knowledge that they may have around nutrition.

It is a much better idea to run some tests to get to the bottom of what is going on with your gut health. You may then need to take out only a few foods to improve your gut health – not a whole lot. There are options available to you that can establish the cause of your gut symptoms, minimising the need to remove foods unnecessarily.

 

These include:

Food Intolerance test – this is a blood test that can accurately assess if you have a sensitivity or intolerance to a particular food via the IgG immune pathway

SIBO Test – a breath test to establish if you have small intestinal bacterial overgrowth

Fructose Malabsorption Test – a breath test to assess if your symptoms are being caused by fructose in your diet

Complete Microbiome Mapping – a stool test that tells us the level of good and bad bacteria, the amount and type of parasites, worms, level of inflammation, pancreatic function, zonulin levels, plus many other informative gut microbiome markers

It’s not necessary to have all of the tests run at the one time. It just depends upon your symptoms. This is discussed during your consultation.

mistake # 2/5 the 5 biggest mistakes people make with their gut health

Mistake # 2

Removing gluten.

Most people that have gut issues mistakenly believe that gluten is the key to their gut problems, so they remove it, and in the process usually just buy gluten free foods which are full of rice, corn and other fillers that are not very nutritious, and they get a bit of an improvement but not much.

When someone has a gut problem it is rarely gluten on its own, unless you are a coeliac, to be honest it is rarely gluten, if it is a food intolerance it may be gluten or wheat, plus a few other foods as well. If your gut problems are related to fructose malabsorption then the removal of gluten will help somewhat as wheat contains fructans which are problematic with fructose malabsorption, but plenty of other foods contain fructans as well that also need to be removed.

Removing gluten alone is a mistake that many people make when trying to address their gut problems, as it is rarely just gluten that is affecting you, don’t make that same mistake, book in here and find out what is really going on in your gut.

Lamb shoulder with barley

This recipe is an absolute favourite in our house, if you have fresh tomatoes, use those instead of tinned ones, I could only get passata so used that instead this time, it still tasted fine,

Serves 2

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1kg lamb shoulder with the bone in

sea salt and cracked black pepper for seasoning

1 onion finely chopped

3 garlic cloves chopped

1 tablespoon of chopped rosemary

1 tablespoon of chopped fresh thyme

1 tablespoon of chopped fresh sage

1 and a 1/2 cups of dry sherry

1 x 400gram tin whole peeled chopped tomatoes

500mL or 2 cups of water

1 cup of pearl barley

Preheat oven to 150 degrees, heat oil in a baking dish on the stovetop, season lamb with salt and pepper, brown lamb on both sides, when done remove from pan. Add onion, garlic and herbs to the pan and stir until softened, add sherry and cook for a few minutes, add tomatoes and water and add lamb back into pan and cover. Cook for two hours in the oven, add pearl barley and cook for a further hour. the pearl barley swells up all of the liquid and turns it almost into a risotto.

I often will serve this with some salad greens and baked potato.

Mistake # 1/5 – The 5 biggest mistakes people make trying to fix their gut health

Mistake # 1;

Removing lactose, sure lots of people, in fact most people are lactose intolerant, its more than likely lactose is a problem, but not the whole problem.

So, I hear you ask what is my problem?

When patients come and see me, we sit down and we talk about their gut health, what they have done, what has worked, what has not worked. Almost everyone says to me I have removed lactose, it helped a bit, but I am still having problems, and this is why, its more than likely casein is the bigger problem and lactose the lesser problem.

So, if you think that dairy is a problem for you, and to be honest it is for ninety nine percent of my patients, and this is not just anecdotal, I test a lot for intolerances, so I am speaking from a functional testing perspective.

This is why, it’s a bit wordy and sciency, but it’s the basics. To start, let’s take a look at what cow’s milk is made of:

After water – cow’s milk consists of fats, proteins, lactose and minerals. The protein is of two general types; casein and whey. With casein further broken down into three types:
1. Alpha
2. Beta
3. Kappa casein
Beta casein is the relevant protein for a2 dairy. There are eight variants of beta casein, each made up of 209 amino acids. The most common types of beta casein are a1 and a2. There is only one difference between a1 and a2 beta casein, and that is the amino acid at position 67: with a1, it is histidine, and a2, it is proline. Proline can form a strong bond, but histidine only forms a weak bond which allows seven of the amino acids to break off in a peptide chain called beta-casomorphin-7.

It is this peptide that causes problems. As the name suggests, beta-casomorphin-7 is similar to morphine. Yes, morphine! For people with good gut health, this can be fine – but, for someone with poor gut health, the peptide beta-casomorphin-7 is able to leak through the gut lining and cause an immune system response. The similarities to morphine also mean that dairy containing beta-casomorphin-7 can cause similar physical responses to opiates. A common problem is constipation and a slowing of the digestive process.

To summarise; normal milk is classed as a1 dairy the problematic dairy, and a2 milk is the dairy that is not problematic, now if only I could get a manufacturer to make lactose free a2 milk, wow, that would be something.

What you can do is make your own lactose free a2 milk, just pop to the chemist get some lacteeze drops and use as instructed this is how they make lactose free milk. You can get a2 milk everywhere, goat, sheep, camel, buffalo and human milk are also classed as a2, so think goat and sheep cheese, yoghurt and kefir.

If you would like to be tested to see if you have an intolerance to a1 dairy, please click here to book in for a consultation. Feel free to share this information with anyone you think may find it useful, don’t forget to tell them where it came from.

Keep an eye out for mistake # 2 in a few days.

Jumbuck Stew

Fresh foods that are in season are really good for your gut health, and good gut health equals a good immune system. Pumpkin is a big feature of this delicious stew, I have been making this simple and tasty stew for about thirty years now, and have only had to make a couple of changes to the original recipe to make it #wheatfree #dairyfree and #eggfree

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 kg lamb chops – any type
2 tablespoons of spelt flour
sea salt and cracked black pepper for seasoning
1 teaspoon of curry powder
1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 large onion diced
1 tablespoon of brown vinegar
2 tablespoons of tomato sauce
2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon of brown sugar
1/2 cup water
500grams of pumpkin cut into large chunks (4cm square)

Mix flour with curry powder and ground ginger and a small amount of salt and pepper for seasoning in a plastic bag, put the chops in the bag and mix up so the flour mixture coast the chops well. Heat half of the oil in a baking pan and brown the chops, remove chops from pan when browned.
Add the rest of the oil to the pan and add the onions and cook until soft.
Mix together the vinegar, sauces, brown sugar and water.
Put the chops back in the pan with the pumpkin and mixed up sauces, mix well, put a lid on the pan or cover with foil and cook for an hour at 180 degrees.
Serve with mash and seasonal vegetables.
This recipe can easily be doubled but make sure you are accurate with your ratios as it is not a dish that works well if you just chuck the ingredients it needs to be as the recipe says, trust me I have done this.
The pumpkin in it does not tend to freeze very well either, if you are lucky enough to have any left to freeze.

crunchy brown rice salad

This salad is delicious, it has come from Jane Grover’s Naked Food – the way food was meant to be.

serves 6

ingredients

2 cups of brown rice
6 green shallots finely chopped
1 red capsicum finely diced
1/3 cup currants
60 grams of unsalted cashews finely chopped
2 tablespoons of sunflower seeds
1/2 cup flat leaf parsley finely chopped

dressing ingredients

1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons of sesame oil
2 tablespoons of tamari sauce
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
1 tablespoon of caramalised balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic crushed

preparation

Rinse rice in cold water and cook according to packet instructions, when cooked spread out on tray to cool.
Combine all dressing ingredients in a jar and shake well, put aside.
When rice is cool, combine with all other ingredients, pour dressing over the top and let absorb for about thirty minutes, then serve, this recipe is great the next day as well.

chick pea fritters

Ingredients

2 x 440g cans of chickpeas drained and rinsed
4 x carrots grated
1 x bunch coriander chopped
200 grams of goat’s fetta crumbled
4 eggs
½ cup wholemeal spelt flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
Sea salt and cracked black pepper to season
Vegetable oil for shallow frying
1 cup of goat or sheep yoghurt
10 mint leaves

Preparation

Place chickpeas in a bowl and mash lightly with potato masher, add grated carrot, coriander and fetta and mix well. Add eggs, flour, baking powder, salt and pepper and mix well. Drop spoonful’s into heated oil in a non-stick pan, cook until golden, turn and cook the same on the other side, drain on absorbent paper and serve with the minted yoghurt. To make minted yoghurt chop up the mint leave sand stir through the yoghurt.

Adapted from a Donna Hay recipe in simple dinners

chicken goats cheese and pear salad

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 kg of chicken thighs
6 sprigs of thyme
6 black peppercorns
2 cloves garlic
Zest of a lemon
3 cups of chicken stock

Salad

¼ red onion finely diced
Juice of half a lemon
1 tsp thyme leaves
2 teaspoons of sugar
¼ cup of olive oil
80 g baby rocket
2 x corella pears thinly sliced
100 grams of soft goat cheese crumble.

Preparation

Put chicken in a large deep pan, add thyme, peppercorns, garlic, lemon zest and stock, bring to the boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook until chicken is cooked. Whisk together onion, lemon juice, thyme, sugar and oil in the base of a salad bowl, add rocket, pears and goats cheese, when chicken is cooked roughly slice up and put on top, toss everything together and serve

This recipe has been adapted from a recipe in the MasterChef magazine (May 2012)