The Gut and the Immune System
Most people are unaware that more than 60% of the immune system is based in the gut. Keeping the gut healthy and maintaining a good balance of the bacteria that reside there is hugely important for your overall health and wellbeing.
Certain types of bacteria that live in your gut not only help digest your food, but also play an important role in protecting your body from infections and disease.
How Does the Immune System Work Inside the Gut?
The bacteria inside your gut stimulate immune cells and molecules in the gut to start responding to injuries and harmful, disease-causing bacteria. The cells lining the gut and the good bacteria living upon them “talk” to each other, working in parallel to grow, survive and together control the immune response.
How to Boost Your Immune System
- Exercise regularly
- Eat a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables and low in saturated fat and refined sugars
- Feed and increase the levels of good immune-supporting gut bacteria
The immune system requires a number of particular nutrients to function properly including vitamin C, D as well as minerals such as zinc and selenium. By eating the right, nutrient-packed foods you can get such nutrients and give your immune system a lift.
Foods to Boost the Immune System
- Carotene-rich foods, such as squash, carrots, yams, sweet potatoes, dark greens, tomatoes and red peppers
- Flavonoid-rich berries
- Broccoli and spinach (packed with vitamins A, C, and E, as well as numerous antioxidants)
- Selenium-rich shellfish
- Omega-3 fat-containing salmon, mackerel and herring
- Zinc-rich foods, such as beef, pork, poultry or dairy products
- Vitamin A-rich foods, such as sweet potatoes, tomatoes and carrots
- Vitamin C-rich foods, such as kiwi and citrus fruits
Symptoms of a Weak Immune System
You’re likely to know if you have a weak immune system. You’ll experience recurrent infections, such as lingering coughs and colds that you can’t fight off, or that reappear just when you think you’re getting better.
Once your immune system is weakened to this point, it’s hard to break the cycle. Repeated infections damage your body’s natural defences further each time, meaning your body is less and less able to respond and recover.
Psychological and emotional problems, stress, poor diet, malnutrition and a sedentary lifestyle can all result in lowered immune system function.
We always recommend you to consult your GP or healthcare practitioner if you experience recurrent infections or coughs.