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Learn How Gut Health Affects Our Immune System

This week on the Harmony with Food Show I talked about the role that your gut health plays in your immune system.

The Development of the Immune System

About 70-80% of your immune system is in your gut. The interaction between the gut microbiome and the immune system begins at birth. After birth, beneficial bacterial antibodies are passed to the baby via breast milk. The immune system continues to mature as a baby is exposed to both beneficial and harmful bacteria.

Excessive sterilization prevents children's immune systems from getting the practice needed to mature, which has increased the rate of allergies and chronic infections.

The Make Up & Role of the Immune System

It is estimated that the human gut houses 100 trillion microbial cells, collectively referred to as the gut microbiota. This is ten times the number of human cells.

Your microbiome includes not only bacteria, but also fungi, parasites, and viruses. In a healthy person, these bugs coexist peacefully with good bacteria. When everything is running smoothly, your gut sends signals for the development of healthy immune responses. In exchange, your immune system helps to populate your microbiome with health-promoting microbes, which provide protection from invaders by competing for nutrients.

These bacteria are also essential in the digestion and absorption of nutrients from your food that are critical for the proper functioning of your immune system. The more diverse your microbiome is, the more you have of the different beneficial bacteria, and the less you have of the harmful ones, the healthier your gut is going to be, and the more robust your immune system will be.

The lining of your gut is delicate and can become easily compromised, making you more vulnerable to harmful invaders. Correcting any gut bacteria imbalances can go a long way to strengthening your immune system.

When your immune system is working well, it acts like a powerful, well-regulated army consisting of several highly-specialized types of combatants, whose job it is to recognize the treat and then respond appropriately. Your immune system is a network of organs, tissues, cells, and bacteria that work together to protect you against foreign invaders such as bacterial pathogens, viruses, parasites, and fungi.

Factors That Weaken the Immune System

There are many things that can impair your immune system, including stress (which isn't just emotional stress, but also physical stress like overexercising), lack of sleep, underexercise, chronic inflammation, excessive alcohol consumption, poor diet, nutrient deficiency, and lack of microbial diversity.

You can strengthen the immune system by eating a nutritious diet, focusing on getting quality sleep, reducing stress, and strengthening your gut.

Client Case Study

I had a client who was 67 years old, 5' 4" and 145 pounds. She was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and on a prescription meant for that. She also had high cholesterol and some GI issues. We decided that the best tests for her would be a food sensitivity test and the micronutrient test.

Right off the bat, we found that wheat and barley were among the foods that she was sensitive too. So, I recommended a gluten-free diet and sent her my gluten cheat sheet that makes it super easy to switch to a gluten-free diet. I also decided from her results that she needs to be low and dairy, but can have some fermented foods like kefir, yogurt, and hard cheeses.

Her micronutrient test showed that she was low in iron, vitamins A, B, C, and D, calcium, manganese, zinc, copper, choline, glutathione, and cysteine. So, I gave her a list of foods to work into her diet that would increase her levels, along with a high-quality multivitamin. I also recommended a supplement with N-Acetyl Cysteine and Glutathione to increase those levels and a non-constipating form of iron.

Next, we found that she was low in arachidonic acid and omega 6 fatty acids, so I recommended an essential fatty acid supplement from a well-vetted company that I like to use.

Your doctor may be checking vitamins, B, D, and iron, but they definitely aren't checking all of these levels. When these vitamins and minerals are suboptimal, they can cause fatigue, headaches, joint pain, and brain fog.

If you're interested in getting your own testing through the Bio Unique Boutique, click HERE to schedule a free 45-minute consultation call with me.

Episode Transcript


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