Improve Your Gut Health To Boost Your Immune System
How well your immune system works is directly related to your gut health and the condition of your microbiome.
In fact, it's now thought that somewhere between 70% and 85% of your immune system actually lives in your gastrointestinal tract!
With well over 500 hundred species of flora (so far identified) living in your system, it's important to maintain the correct balance between "good" and "bad" bacteria. Current thinking and research is that the ideal balance should be 85% good bacteria, with the remaining 15% made up of "bad" and "other" bacteria.
Your optimal health - both physically and mentally - is dependant upon maintaining this balance as many diseases are caused by or made worse by problems with your gut. These diseases and disorders can include:
And, whilst gut health can't always be identified as the cause of these problems, good gut health is proven to reduce the effects of - and in many cases the prevention of - them.
Because your gut is where you digest your food and absorb the nutrients it contains, it's worth paying attention to what you eat and how it can support and maintain your immune system.
Three groups of food that you really should be considering including in your diet to help boost your immune system are...
Whilst probiotics are the good bacteria that live in your gut, prebiotic is a specialised plant fibre that acts rather like a fertilizer that provides nourishment for those probiotics.
Good quality, organic yoghurts, saurkraut, oats and kefir all provide the prebiotic food that your system requires. Additionally, chicory root, garlic, onions and dandelion greens prove to be a good source of prebiotic, despite being indigestible plant fibres.
All naturally fermented vegetables - saurkraut, kimchi, miso and tempeh - as well as fermented drinks, such as apple cider vinegar and kombucha, help to promote healthy gut bacteria by providing prebiotic.
Chia seeds, flax seeds and psyllium husks are all excellent sources of fibre - the seeds need to be ground, however. Otherwise, because they're so small, they pass through your system with little - or no - benefit.
Foods to avoid because they compromise your internal flora and so your immune system include poor quality carbohydrates and refined sugars that are normally found in:
White bread - particularly from large commercial bakeries
The bad bacteria in your gut love these foods and gorge on them. This results in the balance in your gut being tilted the wrong way which can result in damage to the wall of your small intestine, reduced absorption of nutrients, food sensitivities, allergies, inflammation and a reduction in the ability of your immune system to protect you.
Many people also find that bloating, wind and diarrhoea are directly related to their intake of dairy products such as milk, butter and cheese.
As your first line of defence against attacks on your immune system is the health of your gastrointestinal tract, it pays to keep it in tip-top condition.
A balanced, healthy diet couple with sufficient sleep and management of your stress levels will help to keep your body and mind as healthy as possible.