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Gut Health & The Immune System

As we ready ourselves for the winter months, our focus tends toward bundling up in cozy layers, sipping on ginger tea, and boosting our vitamin C intake. Unfortunately, amidst these familiar rituals, an essential aspect of immunity gets overlooked: better gut health. Beyond its role in digestion, the gut holds the key to a robust immune system. Understanding the intricate play between these two systems can unlock simple yet powerful strategies to prevent us from becoming sick.

The Gut-Immune Connection

Our digestive tract is home to trillions of microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, and fungi, collectively known as the gut microbiome. This microbiome interacts with 70% of our immune system; which can be found nestled within the intestinal wall. Together, they form the body’s first line of immune defence.

“Our gut bacteria ‘talk’ to our immune cells.” 

It’s true. Our digestive microflora educates immune cells to identify harmful invaders from friendly matter and from the body’s own cells. These immune cells constantly monitor the gut to prevent harmful substances from staying residing there, or from entering the bloodstream.

Poor Gut Health Impairs Immunity

Digestive issues like bloating, gas, urgency, constipation, diarrhea, reflux, and nausea indicate an imbalance in our digestive system. This imbalance, most commonly caused by inflammation and an overgrowth of bad bacteria, weakens our immune cells.

In a healthy gut, the immune system responds to invaders like the flu virus by producing antibodies to neutralize the infection. It can even communicate with the respiratory system through the gut-lung axis, allowing immune cells and helpful molecules to travel between the gut and lungs for better protection. Unfortunately, an unhealthy digestive system compromises this process.

Inflammation - Striking A Balance

Inflammation is a natural and essential part of the immune response, helping the body to heal and fight infection. However, too much inflammation like mentioned above, can be harmful and lead to allergies, intolerances or autoimmune disease; where the immune system attacks its own tissues. 

Nourishing Your Gut Health

While the relationship between our immune system and digestion is complex, elevating our gut health doesn't have to be. Simple diet and lifestyle changes can make a world of difference and enhance our resilience against dis-ease.

  1. Limit Refined Grains & Sugars: These drive up inflammation, deplete B vitamins and disrupt the balance of the microbiome.

  1. Embrace Variety: A diverse range of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds in the diet ensures a diverse range of certain by-products known as ‘post-biotics’ that protect the gut.

  2. Harness the power of probiotics: Pot set yogurt, miso, kefir and kimchi inoculate the gut with good bacteria. It’s also worth considering supplementation with specific strains known for their immune-boosting properties: Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus plantarum and Lactobacillus paracasei.

  3. Include Pre-biotics: Choose colourful fibrous vegetables rich in polyphenols to maintain and heal the health of your microbiome. Opt for bright purple, red, blue, orange and yellow produce.

  4. Eat Mindfully: Being present at mealtime encourages digestive juices which kill pathogens and ensure proper breakdown of food.

  5. Manage Stress: Find something that helps you relax and make it a regular part of your routine. The gut and brain are directly connected, so stress will negatively affect digestion.

If you need more personalised support, take our free online gut health assessment to find out which supplements can best help your gut and ultimately, boost your immunity.


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