The Hobart

Power Up Your Defence Force

by Laura Cini
Power Up Your Defence Force

Readers, this month I’m going to focus on your incredible defence system and what you can do to support it.

Your defence (or immune) system is comprised of a complex crack team of players on surveillance duty 24/7. They are always busy patrolling all areas of your body for invading organisms like viruses or bacteria. When they locate a threat, they use a variety of weaponry; from sending out special cells to actually eat any invaders to unleashing a flood of chemicals to kill them. It’s a highly complex and sophisticated business indeed.

So, what can you do to support and be kind to your defence system? To function well, your defence team needs a steady source of raw materials. Vitamin C (found in fruits and vegetables) is probably the most famous immune nutrient.

You also need zinc; one of the unsung heroes of the immune system, found in foods including red meat, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds. Zinc is needed for your immune system to actually recognise that there is an infection present in the body, plus for fighting the infection and healing wounds.

Vitamin D is another star player. Many Tasmanians are low in this vitamin, especially in winter. The trick is to get the right amount of sun exposure for your skin type without getting too much and increasing the risk for skin cancer. Your health practitioner can give you advice on this.

The majority of the immune system is actually found in the digestive tract and the variety of gut bugs you have happily living in your gut (also called your micro­biome) actually shapes how your immune system works. Problems in the gut can lead to problems with the immune system like allergies. So it makes sense to look after your gut bugs. Eat a wide variety of plant foods (like the dip featured on this page). If your digestive system is cranky and you are frequently bloated, feel sluggish or blocked up, seek advice from a health practitioner.

Prioritise sleep. Watch the stress levels. Too much stress really messes with immune function. Exercise wisely. Some exercise is great, but more is not necessar­ily better. Over-training (or under-recov­ery) can actually inhibit immune function.

There’s lots more that an experienced natural therapist can do to support your immunity including using evidence-based nutritional and herbal medicine and mod­ifications to your eating patterns. Seek support if you need it.

Laura Cini is an expert nutritionist, herb­alist and naturopath with over 20 years’ experience. Visit or connect @lauraciniwellness.

Beautiful Gut Bug Lovin’ Beetroot Dip

500 g beetroot
3 tablespoons unhulled tahini
3 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp sea salt
1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Wrap beetroot
in foil, roast for 30-40 mins or until tender. Set aside to
cool, then peel and roughly chop.
2. Place beetroot and all other ingredients in a food
processor, blend until smooth.
3. Can be stored in fridge for up to five days. Can also
be frozen.

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May 2024

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