31 May How To Boost Your Immunity And Gut Health?
With the rising awareness towards building Immunity naturally, a lot of research has been done on the immune response system and findings seem to be ever evolving with emerging pathogens. According to research by John Hopkins University, “ A massive portion of our immune system is in our gut”. Certain cells in the gut are known to produce huge amounts of antibodies.
Our immune system acts like the first line of defense for any foreign substances that enter the body. The immune cells produce antibodies that attach to the attacking pathogens and begin the process called cell senescence to ultimately kill them. Since most of our immune cells originate in the digestive system, the beneficial microorganisms present in the digestive tracts direct the immune cells to distinguish the pathogens and wipe them out subsequently.
This article educates you on how nutrition and lifestyle modifications can help enhance one’s natural defense ability and gut condition with the best gut diet plan.
Table Of Contents
Feel free to skip ahead if one topic catches your eye:
- Immunity and Gut health
- Weak immunity and Unhealthy gut conditions
- Tips to Improve Immunity and gut health
- Take away
1. Immunity and Gut health
Biological immunity is the ability of the body to combat external disease causing invaders such as bacteria, fungi, viruses like the current coronavirus, etc. Gut health has no clear-cut definition. But, keeping the digestive system away from intruders, infections and building immunity can be called gut health. Immune system is a very complex system made of networking cells, tissues, organs that are present throughout the body like skin, spleen, lymphatic systems, and nearly 70-80% in the digestive system.
Immune cells called lymphocytes secrete antibodies who are our natural soldiers that fight the disease-causing pathogens (antigens). In the gut, the functioning of the lymphocytes is guarded by the useful microorganisms who signal the presence of these harmful invaders to lymphocytes that regulate a sequence of immune responses to kill the pathogens and pathogen infected cells. The communication system between these microorganisms and lymphocytes is immense and they together constitute the gut barrier.
But when the delicate gut is weak, the ability of the gastrointestinal tract to produce enough immune cells decreases leaving the internal systems to be evaded by harmful predators. Sometimes, the immune cells recognize the good microorganisms within the system as invaders and start attacking them causing autoimmune conditions.
2. Weak immunity and Unhealthy gut conditions
Unhealthy gut refers to improper immune responses and invitation to many complications within the body. The manifestations when your immunity is poor due to your unhealthy gut are listed below :
- When the digestive tracts are weak, the food doesn’t get digested properly and improper absorption of nutrients takes place. Commonly observed symptoms are stomach upset, bloating, constipation, heartburn, diarrhea, etc.
- Some bacteria in the gut help fight inflammation, thus a decrease in these bacteria can elevate inflammation spreading throughout the body.
- The neurotransmitter called serotonin that affects sleep is mainly produced in the digestive tracts. A poorly responding immune system can cause sleep issues like insomnia.
- The natural defense system is present within our skin barrier as well. A compromised immune reaction can cause inflammation. Certain harmful bacteria can worsen inflammation-causing autoimmune skin conditions like eczema.
- Weakened immune responses can increase systemic inflammation leading to autoimmune disorders as well.
- Sometimes, low immunity can initiate allergic reactions resulting in food allergies as well.
- Mood swings, change in energy levels are some of the other lesser-known signs of a weak defense system and improper functioning of the digestive system.
3. Tips to Improve Immunity and Gut Health
To keep the above symptomatic effects of a low immune level away and to ensure a conditioned gastrointestinal tract, it is necessary to consider various disciplines of lifestyle that would empower your immunity and fight pathogens such as SARS, Coronavirus, etc. They are :
- Incorporate a nutritious diet : Balanced diet is one of the key aspects in improving one’s immune functioning and microorganisms of the gut.
- Probiotics – Probiotics support the maintenance of gut microorganisms that in turn take care of immunity. Foods like rice kanji, yogurt, buttermilk, fermented vegetables such as kimchi, apple cider vinegar, etc are good probiotics.
- Prebiotics – Prebiotics are fibre rich foods like apple, bananas, pear, onion, chickpeas, lentils, oats, etc that feed the gut bacteria. Fibres are known to aid easy digestion as well.
- Vitamin B complex – The essential B vitamins can help to build a strong immune response system that is present in most of our daily foods such as cereals, pulses, nuts, seeds,etc.
- Vitamin D – Vitamin D is known to develop a protective barrier against pathogen invasions, they prevent the body from infections. Natural sources of vitamin D are the sun rays during early morning and evening.
- Vitamin C – Vitamin C acts as antioxidant and immunity booster. Indian gooseberry (amla), guava, tomatoes, tamarind, Citrus fruits like lemon, kiwi, oranges, sweet lime, berries, and more are rich sources of Vitamin C.
- Medicinal herbs – Astragalus (a chinese herb), turmeric, ginger, cumin, aloevera, giloy plant, tulsi, garlic, and many more considerably improve digestion and quick healing of infections.
- Minerals – Minerals such as Zinc not only reduces inflammation but are essential for the immune cell development. Pumpkin seeds, almonds, hemp seeds, sesame seeds, chickpeas, etc are good sources of Zinc.
- Omega 3 Fatty acids – Omega 3 PUFAs are known to support the immune system and its functioning. Sources of omega 3 fatty acids include cod liver oil, walnuts, flax seeds, chia seeds, etc.
- Selenium – Selenium plays an important role in enhancing immunity and reducing inflammation. Lean meats, beans, peas, lentils, etc are good sources of this antioxidant.
- Collagen – Mushrooms, green vegetables, dairy products, salmon, etc are collagen rich foods that have immunity boosting properties that help build a healthy gastrointestinal lining.
- Hydration – Keeping your mucosal lining well hydrated with regular intake of water and other fluids which helps eliminate pathogens aiding effective functioning of the gut lining.
- Decrease your stress levels : Stress and anxiety are trouble mongers of gut health. Over stressing can alter the integrity of the gut barrier. Meditation, breathing exercises, indulging in hobbies or any activity of interest are a few ways of destressing.
- Having a good amount of Sleep : Having a quality sleep of 7 to 8 hours a day is essential to increase lymphocyte production that helps fight pathogens. Sleep deprivation can impair the gastrointestinal status and limit immune cell production.
- Exercise regularly : Health benefits of regular exercises are innumerable. Maintaining an exercise routine, yoga, walking, sports etc is a great way to develop immunity, enhance our digestive capabilities, and reduce weight.
4. Take away
The gut is home for numerous species of microorganisms and immune cells. The transmission of signals between the two help ward off unwanted enemies that intrude the natural defense system. When the Immunity is declining, your gut signals that your body is not keeping well by symptomatic responses. Deploying a strong structure for the gut cells and immune system by following a healthy diet, avoiding stress, having adequate sleep and exercise can help deal with the current pandemic situation . Connect with Dt. Reema in Noida who will endow the best gut diet to strengthen our internal defense mechanism that is imperative in these covid times.