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Author - Good Health
With winter rearing its icy head, it’s time to get your immune system prepped for the upcoming season.
With winter rearing its icy head, it’s time to get your immune system prepped for the upcoming season. Upping your vitamin C is a good place to start, but with 70-80% of your immune tissue located in your digestive system, a healthy gut could be the key to a healthier winter.
When it comes to gut health, it’s all about getting the right balance. It’s estimated that we have around 400 different strands of bacteria (both good and bad) in our intestines. When an imbalance occurs with too much bad bacteria or yeast you start to experience digestive symptoms like gas, flatulence, bloating, pain, constipation or diarrhoea. This is a sign that your digestive system is not very healthy, which in turn will affect your immunity because the gut provides the foundation for a strong immune system.
Your gut lining is incredibly responsive to your everyday life. If you’ve been eating foods that don’t agree with you, burning the candle at both ends, or even taking a course of antibiotics, your gut reacts to it. If it is left unchecked or continues long term, a condition called Leaky Gut Syndrome can develop where substances from the gut leak into the bloodstream. This causes an immune reaction because toxins, undigested food, yeast and bacteria that should stay within the digestive tract pass through into the bloodstream causing an immune reaction. Long term this disrupts the normal immune response triggering inflammation and allergies and weakening the immune system.
Moderating your diet and reducing stress is key to optimum gut health. If you reduce sugar and processed foods in your diet where possible, look to identify and address any underlying vitamin or mineral deficiencies and adopt some stress management techniques.
#1. Identify any food allergies
When your body can’t process a certain substance (like gluten or lactose) it often reacts with inflammation, which affects your immune system. Cutting out these foods gives your digestive system time to rest and heal. If you find that you’re experiencing cramping, bloating, stomach pain or diarrhoea often you could try taking a digestive enzyme supplement to help relieve these symptoms and strengthen your digestion. Digestive enzymes will help your body digest and break down foods (proteins, carbs, fats and fibre) to improve the absorption of nutrients.
#2. Eat more fibre
The western diet is particularly lacking in the fibre department, which is why constipation is such a common issue. Fibre helps to keep things moving within the digestive system, assisting with the removal of waste and toxins. It also reduces inflammation and as an added bonus, it keeps you feeling fuller, for longer. Aim to get 25g a day from sources like wholegrains, vegetables and fruit to reap the benefits.
#3. Consider probiotics
Probiotics are the good bacteria naturally found in many fermented foods. Getting a good dose from foods like sauerkraut, miso, kimchi, yoghurt, kefir and kombucha or a natural health supplement will help to boost your healthy bacteria levels, restoring the balance needed to keep your immune system strong.
With your gut health affecting your immunity so directly, it makes sense to pay more attention to it. Improving your gut health will improve your immunity, so if you haven’t thought of your immunity from this angle before and continue to suffer from coughs and colds try concentrating on your gut, your immune system will thank you for it!