For a resilient and robust immune system we do really need to ensure that our gut health is optimal. Why’s that? Because 80% of our immune system is located in our gut. So what do gut bacteria have to do with it? From birth (a natural birth that is!) bacteria are transferred to us from our mother’s birth canal and colonise in our bodies, predominantly in the digestive tract. In fact, we have more bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract than cells in the body! No wonder they have a massive impact on our health.
The presence of a diverse range of healthful bacteria in the gut helps our immune system stay alert and on the ball. Health-promoting bacteria in the gut do trigger an immune response but only a mild one. A bit like stress, we need a little stress but not too much to know we are alive and kicking and ready to respond to an event when we need to. With our gut bacteria, diversity is key. Overgrowth of 1 or 2 particular strains or overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria (those known to contribute to disease) can cause an imbalance leading to more serious gut and immune issues.
At a time when optimal immunity is of paramount importance, what can you do to ensure your gut bacteria is as diverse as possible? A diverse microbiome calls for a diverse diet. A diet rich in prebiotic and probiotic foods. What you eat or supplement with either increases or feeds your gut bacteria and the quality of the food is what keeps you well…or not. So a good start is to cut out the processed and fast foods but I’m sure you knew that already! These encourage the growth of the bad guys. Incorporate prebiotic and probiotic foods into your diet. Start slow and small and build it up gradually. If you already have some kind of gut issue your bacteria may not take too kindly to big changes. Here’s a list of foods to get you started:
Greek yogurt (make sure it’s low sugar content, there are some out there, less than 5g of sugar per 100g), sauerkraut, miso, kombucha tea, kefir, pickled foods or fermented soy products such as tempeh or natto. Prebiotics such as banana, leek, onions, garlic, Jerusalem artichoke, oats, asparagus, root vegetables and cabbage.
You can also support your immunity by adding a multi-strain probiotic and a prebiotic supplement but not all supplements are equal. Some probiotics will not make it past the hydrochloric acid in your stomach, do your research or speak to your nutritional therapist for recommendations. If you are taking medication always check with your doctor/NT in case of interactions. This is your responsibility.
If you want to make changes like these but you’re struggling to put them into practice, here at Deborah Lee Nutrition we can help you to change your behaviours, habits and beliefs that might be getting in your way. We can help you to achieve your health and lifestyle goals. You can be provided all the information you need to lose weight, reduce stress, eat healthily, boost your energy and immunity etc but if you’re not able to make the changes in your life then this information becomes redundant. If you’d like some help please do get in touch via the contact form here on my website.