Boost Your Immune System: Start with Your Gut
Boosting your body's natural immune system starts with taking care of your gut. Your gut is like a home for lots of small helpers called "GUT microbes" that help keep you healthy. When your gut is happy, your body can fight off bad things better and keep you feeling good. So, remember, taking care of your gut is a great way to stay healthy!
What is the Gut Microbiome?
Your gut doesn't just have human cells; it also has small things like bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites. These small things make up something called the "gut microbiome." They've been with us for a really long time, and they usually help us out. They help us digest food, make vitamins, give us energy, stop swelling, keep our immune system in check, and protect us from bad bacteria. Some of these smaller things are good for us, like lactobacillus and bifidobacterium bacteria, while others, like streptococcus bacteria, candida fungus, and some bacteria, can be bad. But it's not always that clear-cut. Some people have too much of the "good" bacteria, while others live just fine with candida or parasites. It's a bit confusing, and even scientists find it puzzling. Just know that everyone's gut bacteria are different. What's healthy for one person might not be for another. But don't worry, there are ways to make things better, and we'll talk about that soon. Next, we'll see how these gut bacteria and the gut environment affect your immune function.
How Does Your Gut Health Affect Your Immune System?
Knowing that 70 percent of your body's immune cells live in your gut is one thing. But understanding how your gut health and the immune system work together is another. To make this complicated topic easier to understand, let's explore a few specific examples.
The Gut Barrier
Your gut's protective barrier is like a shield that keeps you safe. Inside, there are small helpers called "short-chain fatty acids" made by friendly gut bacteria when you eat fiber. These helpers talk to your immune system, telling it when to be ready or take it easy. Think of the gut barrier as a wall that stops bad things from getting in. If this wall gets weak, it can lead to issues like inflammation and a weak immune system. So, by knowing and looking after how your gut wall and immune system work together, you can stay healthier.
The Gut Produces Antibodies
In your gut, special immune cells called plasma cells play a crucial role in immune by making antibodies, which are like protective soldiers. These antibodies keep an eye out for bad bacteria and stop them from causing trouble in your gut. This helps not only your gut but also your entire immune system stay strong. So, knowing how your gut makes antibodies is essential for understanding how your body defends itself.
Immune System Development
The days right before a baby is born and the first 1,000 days after are super important for starting a strong immune system in the gut. When a baby is born, some mommy's good microbiome goes to the baby, helping it build a good gut environment. Then, when the baby is born, the milk from the mommy gives more good things to the baby's gut. This helps the baby have a strong immune system as it grows up. The milk has lactoferrin that protects the baby's gut. So, the start of life is a big deal for a strong gut and a healthy body.
A strong gut community helps the immune system learn what's okay and what's not in the world around us. When the gut community gets disrupted, the immune system gets mixed up too, and that can lead to allergies. This is why babies who drink mommy's milk are less likely to get allergies when they grow up.
"Long ago, a famous Greek doctor named Hippocrates said that sickness often starts in the gut. What he meant was, that it's connected to something called inflammation. Chronic inflammation is like when your body's immune system goes crazy and causes problems. It can lead to almost any illness you can think of. And guess where most of this inflammation comes from? Yep, you got it—the gut. A healthy community of small creatures living in your gut can help. They do things like fixing holes in your gut, making slimy stuff, giving food to the inside of your gut, and telling your body's immunes when to act and when to chill. Basically, they help stop unnecessary inflammation."
What to Eat to Support a Healthy Gut
We look into the foods that help our gut stay healthy, which also helps our body's immune system and makes sure we don't swell up too much.
These small living things strengthen the community of microorganisms in your gut. They also affect the balance between the body's built-in immunity and the learned immune functions. Eating foods with lots of these small helpers, like yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut, can make your gut’s microorganisms more diverse and make your body's defenses work better
These special fibers that your body can't digest are like plant food for the small creatures living in your gut. You can find these fibers in foods like garlic, onions, and bananas. They help the good bacteria in your gut grow and keep a balanced gut environment..
Foods like kimchi and miso, which are part of the diet that fights swelling, are full of small live creatures and special compounds. These tasty foods team up with the small creatures in your gut to make your immune system work just right. Avoid processed foods because it can be affect your gut balance.
When stress hits, it's no surprise that it affects your gut. Stress triggers the release of chemicals like cortisol, which can disrupt digestion, upset the balance of gut bacteria, and make your body produce more inflammatory substances. It's tough for your gut to work properly when you're in a fight-or-flight state. To make stress feel better, consider practices like yoga and meditation.
Exercise is great for your gut health. It helps keep your gut in good shape. So, don't forget to get moving!
Sleeping well helps make your immune system strong. It's kind of surprising, but the small creatures in your gut also like it when you get good sleep.
Taking care of your gut is essential for having a strong immune system. The small living things in your gut, like bacteria and such, are crucial for keeping you healthy. To support a healthy gut, you should eat foods like yogurt, bananas, and kimchi, and avoid processed foods. Also, it's important to manage stress through activities like yoga and meditation, exercise regularly, and make sure you get good sleep. By looking after your gut, you make your body better at fighting off sickness and inflammation, which means you'll feel better and supports immune healthy!