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How to Boost Your Gut Health and Empower Your Immune System

How to Boost Your Gut Health and Empower Your Immune System
Looking after your gut health by optimising your nutrition is one of the best ways you can give your immune system the tools it needs to help keep you healthy and fight off disease. Read on to discover more about the fascinating link between gut health and immunity – and what you can do to boost both!
What’s the Link Between Gut Health and Immunity?
Gut health is one of the hottest topics in the health and fitness world right now and, let’s face it, there’s never been a more poignant time to explore immunity. But what’s the link between the two?
Well, it may surprise you to learn that an amazing 70-80% of your immune system lives within your gut. So, by looking after your gut you can create the best possible environment for your natural defences to thrive in.
Your gut is home to:
  • 4000 Strains of ‘Good’ Bacteria – Good bacteria in the gut directly influence immune function and response, secreting powerful antibodies which fight off infection and disease

  • 500 Million Neurons – Neurons found in GI tract allow it to gather information from the environment and communicate it to the brain, which can be the first warning when it comes to the presence of pathogens and potential threats to health

  • Trillions of Microbes – Make it possible for the environment, gut microbiota and brain to work in synergy to modulate immune response and help to synthesise immune cells

Gut Health and Immunity are Symbiotic
‘Symbiosis’ is a mutually beneficial biological relationship – and that’s certainly what we have in the case of gut health and immunity!
Our immune system has evolved to create defences against pathogens at the same time as developing a tolerance for beneficial microbes. This allows healthy bacteria to thrive and an overall preferential balance of good vs. bad gut bacteria. To return the favour, these same microbes work hard to produce molecular signals which support the production of immune cells and help to modulate immune response.
This bidirectional communication is what intrinsically links gut health with immunity – and what cleverly alerts our brain to any potential threats so that it can activate its defences as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Our Modern Busy Lifestyles are a Threat to Immune and Gut Health
The modern way of living throws lots of obstacles in the way of optimising gut health and supporting the immune system. Things like stress, lack of sleep, hyper-cleanliness, antibiotics, poor diet (low fibre, high sugar being the main culprits) and sedentary lifestyles all take their toll on both gut and immune function.
How to Look After Your Gut Health to Boost Your Immune System
The good news is that by following a healthy diet and lifestyle you can overcome these obstacles and equip your body with the tools it needs to prime its natural defences!
Here’s some great ways to look after your gut and empower your immune system:
  • Avoid Sugar and Processed Foods – Sugar and processed foods cause inflammation in the lining of the gut and can trigger autoimmune responses in which the body attacks itself 

  • Get Enough Rest – Sleep is your body’s very own standby mode, you may be snoring away on the cool side of the pillow, but your body is working hard to replenish, rejuvenate and repair damage! These are all super important to boosting your immune system and so getting a minimum of 7 hours sleep each night is recommended.

  • Eat Prebiotics and Probiotics – Bacteria are at the heart of your body’s natural defences. When we think of antibiotics being harmful to gut health and depletive of good bacteria, it makes sense that probiotics and prebiotics would be good news for our gut!

  • Prebiotics – When digested, prebiotics from our food are used to feed the good bacteria in the gut, allowing the microbiome to replenish and flourish. You can boost your intake of prebiotics by eating certain foods such as garlic, onions, banana, asparagus, leeks, seaweed and even cocoa!

  • Probiotics – Contain live cultures which help to digest nutrients and support the growth of good bacteria in the gut. Fermented foods and beverages are great sources of probiotics. Try to include one of the following fermented foods or drinks daily: kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha, tempeh, miso and kimchi.

Looking after your gut health is a great way to make sure that your immune system is as best equipped to deal with illness and infection as possible. This can help you to keep as healthy as possible, recover quicker when you’re unwell and minimise any lasting damage following illness. What’s more, when it’s as simple as eating healthy, nutritious food and avoiding poor lifestyle choices, there’s really no excuse not to go with your gut and empower your immune system!
References
The Role of Gut Microbiota in Immune Homeostasis and Autoimmunity
Physiological Role of Antioxidants in the Immune System
Role of the Microbiota in Immunity and inflammation
Allergy and the Gastrointestinal System 
The Gut: Where Bacteria and the Immune System Meet

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