Staying healthy means more now than ever before. How exactly do we do that? Washing hands? Avoiding germs? Taking a supplement of vitamin C? While these all help, the actual super-power lies in of all places…..
Until recently, if most people thought about gut bacteria at all, we tend to think of it as fairly separate from us. Gut bacteria helps with digestion, but otherwise they stay on their side of the intestinal lining, and we stay on our side.
But, in fact, there is a lot of interaction between the body’s immune system and bacteria in the gut. Researchers at Johns Hopkins are now in the early stages of figuring out how the composition of the gut changes in different diseases, how the body’s immune system interacts with these tiny hitchhikers and particularly how that relationship may function in disease.
“A huge proportion of your immune system is actually in your GI tract,” says Dan Peterson, assistant professor of pathology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. At least 70% of your immune system exists IN YOUR GUT! With that being said, is it any wonder why it’s imperative to have a healthy gut when trying to stay healthy?!
The two gut issues that can impede your gut health and deplete your immune system are Dysbiosis and Leaky Gut.
Dysbiosis is when the delicate ecosystem of your microbes in your gut is imbalanced, it is known as gastrointestinal dysbiosis and occurs when invading microorganisms begin taking up residence in your gut and crowd out the “good” bacteria. This interferes with your body’s ability to communicate and coordinate with your immune system. Think about when you’ve tried to make a call with your cell phone but you have no cell service. No service, no communication. This is the same kind of thing. This can even cause your immune system to become overworked or hypervigilant due to the lack of communication between systems which can lead to your body to mistakenly begin attacking your own cells and setting the stage for an autoimmune issue.
With Leaky Gut, your digestive tract is designed to be the ultimate barrier. It keeps potentially harmful microbes and compounds locked up tight until they can be excreted. It accomplishes this with a thin layer of cells lining the inside of your intestines that are linked together by proteins. These proteins serve as the gateway for nutrients to pass from your intestines into your bloodstream. They’re like a filter, allowing approved good substances to pass into the bloodstream and others to remain in the intestines to be processed out. But if these proteins become compromised, the “gaps” that allow nutrients to pass through get larger and larger creating small holes and allowing tiny particles never meant to enter your bloodstream to begin squeezing their way through. This compromise in the integrity of your intestinal lining is known as “leaky gut syndrome” and it can have serious implications for your immune system.
Ways to heal your gut and improve your immune system:
Focus on a Healthy Diet.
The food you eat is one of the most powerful tools you have when it comes to healing your gut and boosting your immune system. By focusing on nutrient-dense, non-inflammatory foods that support a healthy microbiome, you give your gut the tools it needs to begin healing. Some simple ways to incorporate non-inflammatory and gut-friendly foods include:
Basing your diet on real, organic, pasture-raised food: Focus on building your meals around organic vegetables, high-quality wild caught or pasture-raised protein, and healthy fats.
Minimizing inflammatory foods: Refined oils and sugars, artificial sweeteners, and processed food can irritate and inflame your gut, so keeping these foods to a minimum or even eliminating them all together will reduce your overall inflammation.
Incorporate gut-friendly foods: Probiotic-rich and fermented foods like sauerkraut helps replenish your gut with beneficial bacteria.
While the food you eat is an excellent foundation, the truth is most of us simply can’t get all the gut-healing nutrients we need from diet alone. There are specific supplements which help correct the gut issues.
Gut Healing Supplements:
Whole food supplements and herbs are ways to give your body a concentrated dose of nutrients. The most potent gut-healing supplements that offer you the best chance for healing are:
Probiotics: Maintaining a balanced ecosystem among the bacteria that reside in your gut is pivotal when it comes to the overall health of your gut and immune system. Taking a daily probiotic ensures that you have plenty of beneficial bacteria that will crowd out any bad bacteria.
Collagen: Chock-full of healing amino acids, collagen works to essentially “seal the gaps” in the lining of your intestines.
Glutamine: As a type of amino acid, glutamine can help reduce inflammation and plays a particularly important role in replenishing the tissues that make up the lining of your gut.
Digestive Enzymes: If you’re suffering from an imbalanced microbiome and leaky gut syndrome, you can bet your bottom dollar that you’re not digesting nutrients properly. Digestive enzymes can help your body break down the food you ingest and ensure it’s more readily used by your body.
Your gut and all it does goes far beyond digesting your dinner, It plays an important and key role in staying healthy, keeping your immune system strong. Challenge. Do a checklist and see if you’re doing all you can on your end to ensure a healthy gut and thus a boost your immune system. If you find you can’t get your gut right, give me a call to schedule a consultation or a new patient appointment.