The Key to a Strong Immune System: Your Gut Health
We’ve all been flooded with talk about our immune system whether it is in response to the current pandemic or just wanting to take better care of ourselves. Did you know that 70% of your immune system is in your gut? While the immune system is often associated with increasing your Vitamin C, a healthy gut microbe is actually the key to a strong immune system. This is where probiotics and prebiotics play a key role.
Our gastrointestinal tract or “gut” has billions of bacteria that make up our microbiome. Our microbiome plays key roles in:
- – Food digestion
- – Nutrient breakdown
- – Nutrient absorption
- – Production of important neurotransmitters
- – Protection of your gut lining
- – Keeping the “bad” bacteria in check
For us to be healthy our gut and our microbiome need to be healthy. A healthy microbiome is defined by the balance between the good bacteria and the bad ones. Good and bad bacteria coexist naturally in balance with each other. When we have too much “bad” bacteria (dysbiosis), it becomes an issue for our overall health and negatively impacting our immune system. Some factors that can throw off this balance and promote dysbiosis are diets that are high in sugar and processed foods, antibiotic use, some medications, environmental toxins, inadequate digestive enzymes, and stress.
Probiotics & Prebiotics
Probiotics are strains of bacteria that help populate our gut with “good” types of bacteria. They can be found in some food sources and from over the counter supplements. You can find numerous options when looking for a probiotic supplement to use.
What should you look for when shopping for a probiotic?
Most healthcare providers recommend finding a blend of multiple strains as a good all-purpose replacement. Studies show that blends of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are, for most patients, the most beneficial strains we need to replace or add more to our gut. Try to incorporate fermented foods into your diet along with a balanced probiotic supplement. Some good options are:
- – Kimchi
- – Kefir
- – Kombucha
- – Sauerkraut
- – Miso
- – Pickles
Prebiotics are the food that fuels the good bacteria.
Not only do we need to populate our gut with probiotics but we need to feed them so they thrive. Incorporate prebiotic foods like onions, garlic, and sweet potatoes into your diet. Resistant starches like cooked and cooled potatoes, slightly green bananas, and rolled uncooked oats are also great sources of prebiotics. There are some over the counter supplements available that allow you to easily add prebiotics into your diet. For example, several companies make a resistant starch powder that is easily added to a smoothie.
Gut health and immune health go hand in hand
When your gut is healthy, you are healthy. By adding some prebiotic and probiotic foods into our diets and selecting the right supplements we can improve the balance and health of our good bacteria. Protect and support your microbiome and it will go a long way in helping protect you. Ask your Sona pharmacist about what prebiotic and probiotic supplements may be right for you!