Gut Health and Immunity
Humans have more bacterial cells than human cells. They live on the skin, in the ears, nose, and, most of all, in the gut. The bacterial cells in the gut contribute to good health and immunity in several ways. Their primary role is to fight harmful bacteria and foreign substances that enter the body. They can stifle the growth of bad bacteria that thrive in a pH environment with a neutral pH, by producing organic acids such as lactic and acetic acids.
The Gut Flora
The gut flora, also known as the microbiota or microbiome, consists primarily of various strains of bacteria, along with fungi and protozoa. There are about 100 trillion of these microorganisms that populate our digestive tract.
The gut flora is responsible for keeping us healthy and functioning well. They absorb nutrient that contribute to a wide range of body processes, from energy production to hormone balance. From mental health to skin health, and even excretion of waste and toxins. The gut flora may influence overall health in several ways. Some ways gut health influences our health includes:
- Boosting immunity
- Keeping harmful bacteria at bay
- Promoting healthy digestion
- Supporting gut motility
Keeping the delicate balance of these bacteria or probiotics in the gut is critical for the body’s health. If the gut flora is off, changes can occur in the composition, distribution, and function. Factors that can negatively influence the health of gut flora include:
- Modern diet
- Antibiotic therapy
- Psychological stress
- Lack of exercise
- High fructose and high dietary fat diet
- Physical stress
- Peristalsis dysfunction
Imbalances in the gut can compromise the gut barrier and increase your risk for gut health and many chronic diseases such as:
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Skin problems like eczema
- Ankylosing spondylitis
- Ulcerative colitis
- Crohn’s disease
The immune system and the gut
A huge portion of the immune system is actually in the gut. In fact, about 70% of the immune system resides in the gut. There is a lot of interaction happening between the bacteria in the gut and the body’s immune system.
Several studies suggest that imbalances in the gut microbiota can contribute to many diseases by causing an abnormal immune response. So, taking care of your gut is key to addressing many bodily problems.
Ways to improve the gut health
When it comes to gut health, diet and nutrition should be the first route. The foods that you eat greatly affect the type of probiotics that live inside you. Below are some changes that may help optimize your gut health:
- Take prebiotic and probiotic supplements. Probiotic supplements contain bacterial strains beneficial to humans. Probiotics have been shown to maintain gut health, restore leaky gut, and prevent irritable bowel syndrome or IBS.
- Make sure you only take antibiotics when necessary. Antibiotics can hurt your health if you do not have infections. They do not just kill the bad bacteria causing infections. They also kill good bacteria that live in your gut, and this can lead to imbalances in your gut flora.
- Manage your stress. Have you heard of the gut-brain connection? The brain directly affects the stomach and intestine. A troubled gut may signal the brain, just as a troubled brain may signal the gut.