80% of Your Immune System is in Your GI tract
Immune system health is something we think about a lot as a society. We use hand sanitizer, make sure we’re practicing effective hand washing, take vitamins and eat healthy foods, but have you ever wondered how your intestinal tract affects your immunity? Studies show that taking probiotic supplements, eating colon-healthy foods and staying away from processed, chemical-laden foods may increase intestinal health – and thus your immune system.
Chances are you’ve heard of probiotics – especially if you’ve seen a yogurt commercial in the last couple of months – but do you have any idea what they really are, how they work, or why we really need them?
Probiotics are naturally-occurring bacterium that lives in our intestinal tract, mostly acidophilus and bifidobacterium. Probiotics help keep balance in our bodies, from fighting-off bacteria we ingest, to fighting off allergies.
According to vitabase.com, “Most people don’t know that 60-70% of their immune system is located in the gut as a vast network of lymph tissue referred to as GALT (gut associated lymphatic tissue). The probiotics in our gut are constantly interfacing with the GALT and essentially priming the immune system for contact with other bacteria.” One way probiotics keep us healthy is breaking-down other bacteria in the foods we eat, helping to prevent food-born illnesses such as salmonella. They also populate themselves in healthy numbers so that when other bacterium are ingested, the healthy ones crowd them out, preventing illness.
Probiotics also aid skin health. When the immune system is off-kilter we’ll see allergic symptoms such as dermatitis, red, itchy skin, especially in babies and young children. Studies show that children who were given a probiotic supplement had dermatitis symptoms greatly reduce and sometimes completely eliminated just by evening-out the body’s natural supply.
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There has been an increase in awareness on how much fiber we eat and a much larger push in the market of products containing more fiber. But why is it important? For lack of a better phrasing, “To keep your colon moving.”
As food sits in our colons bacteria grows, so the longer it sits, the more bacteria forms along with greater risk of developing symptoms due to unhealthy levels. You can also develop constipation, gas or diarrhea, and allergic responses as noted above. In more chronic instances, unhealthy colon health can lead to cancer.
There are two types of fiber:
1) Soluble – that which can be digested by your body and that can help to lower cholesterol in the body, and
2) Insoluble – that which cannot be digested by the body. This type of fiber moves through the colon and helps other foods move through the colon helping to prevent against constipation and other digestive problems.
Other benefits to eating fiber are being made to feel fuller, longer and can aid in weight loss. Wellsphere.com posits,” On average, most people only eat about 12g of fiber per day. You should be aiming to eat at least 18g.”
Dr. Sears’ website lists 8 foods that boost immunity:
1) Vitamin C – Top of the list and readily found in many sources, Vitamin C “increases the production of infection-fighting white blood cells and antibodies.”
2) Vitamin E – Important to help boost the cells that seek out and destroy bad things that invade our bodies
3) Carotenoids – Beta carotene also boosts the seeker cells and T-cells and acts as a powerful antioxidant. In addition, it is proven to be a mega anti-aging tool!
4) Bioflavenoids – Fight environmental pollutants by protecting cells against that which will attach to cells and attack.
5) Garlic – Not only does it help make great sauce, it also aids in the production of white blood cells.
6) Zinc – Increases white blood cells, the cells that fight infection. 7) Selenium – Helps to get the killer cells moving and fights against cancer cells.
8) Omega-3 fatty acids – Aids in the production of phagocytes, white blood cells that fight bacteria.B
The evidence is clear: healthy colon = health immune system. So pick up an orange, indulge in whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and take daily probiotic supplements, vitamins and minerals and see just how quickly your immune system thanks you with good health!
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