What does it mean to have a strong immune system?
Immunity is at the top of everyone’s list of priorities right now. But it’s important to remember we don’t build a strong immune system in one day or with one pill. We build it over time.
What does it mean to have a strong immune system? The key to the body being able to protect itself and heal from external conditions is having a fully functioning immune system. Your immune system is your internal defense system. Reduced immune defenses make us more susceptible to falling ill and provide us with a slower response to recuperate.
We also need optimal cell integrity to keep pathogens out and prevent infection. Good cell integrity is supported by nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin A, selenium, and the essential fatty acids.
In order to properly support our internal defense systems we need to be focusing on a nutrient dense diet and incorporating a healthy lifestyle. Simple right? The keys to good health. There is no one solution to building a strong immunity but instead it relies on a collective of daily habits.
By making positive decisions and taking on healthy habits you minimize the damage inflicted on your cells and support your innate immune system to generate production of immune cells which then allows your immune system to function better when under attack.
But there is one organ system that has been shown to have a significant impact on your immunity that we would like to touch on today, and that is our gut.
Gut health and immunity
Did you know the majority of your immune system lives in your gut? In fact, about 70% of it does!
Our intestinal lining, though only one cell thick, represents our protective barrier between our internal environment and the outside world. This intestinal lining ranges to about the size of a tennis court!
Trillions of microorganisms live in the gut, and more specifically in the colon. These beneficial bacteria play a vital role in the development and maintenance of the mucosal immune system in your gut by training the immune system to distinguish between harmful and non harmful pathogens, stimulating production of antibodies, improving the activity of immune cells, and protecting the intestinal lining against pathogen invasion.
These beneficial bugs help to control the proliferation of “bad” microbes which can cause an increase in inflammation and higher risk of disease.
How can you support this ecosystem of microbes in your gut?
It all starts with your diet!
Including a variety of antioxidant rich foods will help to quench inflammation and protect the intestinal cells from damage. What are these? Brightly coloured fruits and vegetables such as berries, broccoli, cabbage, kale, tomatoes, parsley, green tea, and bell peppers are all foods that provide a significant amount of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds.
Prebiotics, found in foods or supplement form, nourish our good microbes and help to keep us regular by promoting the removal of waste and damaging toxins. Prebiotics work together with probiotics to provide a healthy ecosystem that can ward off infectious pathogens, these are called synbiotics. Examples of prebiotic rich foods include chicory, artichoke, oats, unripe banana, asparagus, onions, and legumes.
Beneficial bacteria are transient residents of the gut therefore we need to focus on getting them from the food we eat on a regular basis. Probiotic rich foods include kefir, kombucha, and sauerkraut. A good probiotic supplement may also be a good option to provide your gut with beneficial microbes within therapeutic doses. When choosing a probiotic supplement always ensure there is an expiration date and batch number. We recommend choosing a product which combines Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains for overall health, though there are many different strains that can help support different health conditions and digestive issues.
Note: This information is provided for educational purposes and should not be construed as medical advice towards COVID-19 or any other disease. Please consult with your healthcare practitioners before undertaking any changes in your diet or adding supplements.