From poor to great immunity
by Sue Kira, Naturopath & Clinical Nutritionist
Client name and identifying information changed
Zara came to me after being sick on and off for the previous two years. She worked in childcare and it was common for staff to get sick frequently, but it seemed that poor Zara got sick the most. She was using up her sick-leave entitlement and many of her holiday days, trying to recover from the yo-yo of being sick then well, sick then well. She was sick of being sick, but loved the industry, so came to me for advice.
Because 80% of our immune system starts in the gut, we initially explored her digestive system. Unfortunately, due to being consistently unwell, Zara had taken many rounds of antibiotics to kill off the infections so she could get back to work as soon as possible.
The antibiotics destroyed her good bacteria levels and no one told her that she needed to take probiotics after antibiotic treatments. This meant she didn’t have a good bacterial defence for her immune system. Therefore, she was susceptible to catching whatever was doing the rounds at the childcare centre.
The other problem was her poor diet. Because she was often tired, she drank lots of coffee and ate many sweet foods and quick-frozen dinners containing processed foods, pastas and the like. Because she woke tired, she would usually have a piece of toast with jam or honey for breakfast or sometimes fruit. Lunch was often missed due to being busy, and if she did get a break she had a nap in her car.
Zara’s diet had to change.
I encouraged her to eat foods low in sugar and grains, with no gluten, dairy or processed foods, all to help support her body and allow her immune system to rest and repair any damage from the antibiotics.
Good probiotic rich coconut yoghurt was included and bone broth to help rebuild her digestive system. However, by taking out all the processed foods, sugar and grains, Zara needed to eat more vegetables.
Due to her time constraints, we discussed the options of using a slow cooker for chicken and vegetable casseroles, soups and curries, as well as other slow cooked meals with various meats, legumes, pulses, broths and soups. It was winter, so this was quite easy for her…and welcomed. Zara took some of the broths and meals to work in a thermos and had them at tea breaks and lunchtime, which was quick, easy and nourishing.
Zara still craved sweet things for breakfast so she would make a smoothie with leafy green veggies, berries for sweetness, a splash of coconut milk, coconut oil, some vitamin C rich goji berries, a teaspoon of Spirulina powder, nuts and seeds (that she soaked overnight to make them easier to digest), some fermented probiotic powder I recommended and water to liquefy the brew.
Within two weeks she felt much better and stronger from her new diet. The most important part of this diet was taking her off gluten, dairy and sugar and limiting her coffee to one cup a day (made on coconut milk). The extra nutrients would also have really helped. I find it quite common when the digestive system is given a chance to heal, that the immune system is then so much stronger.
Now Zara only gets sick if she has a big night out on the town drinking alcohol. Then she gets run down, tired and eats badly again. Each time this happens, she sends me an email saying “I’ve just gotta stop doing this to myself” and plans to look after her body much better.