Printed From:



Your gut is part of your digestive system1. This processes the food and drink you consume and helps you get maximum nutritional benefit from your diet1. However, the gut performs other functions, including providing vital support to your immune system1.

If your gut is not as healthy as it could be, your immune system will not function as well as it could1. Read on to find out why and what you can do to help, including the benefits of probiotics.



How are your gut and immune system linked?


  • Microbes (tiny microorganisms) live in your gut2. In fact, a whole variety of bacteria, yeasts and viruses form a microbiome, a community of microorganisms, inside your digestive system2.

  • Many of these microbes are doing a very important job by aiding good digestion2. Most of the microbes in your gut are friendly and helpful2.

  • Your gut microbiome provides a line of defence against infections3. Good bacteria help to fight off the bad bacteria and viruses present in the gut3.

  • Gut bacteria also help to regulate your immune system’s response and prevent overreaction3. Excessive immune system responses are dangerous and are apparent in many severe cases of viral infections4.

  • A healthy gut also synthesizes vitamins and ensures that the body is getting the right nutrients to stay healthy5.


The link between your immune system and your gut are very strong1. It’s really important to look after the health of your gut to help your body fight off infections caused by nasty bacteria and viruses1.




4 ways to keep your gut healthy

You can keep your gut healthy by taking steps to promote the numbers of good bacteria in your digestive system6. Here’s how.





1. Eat foods that contain probiotics

Probiotics are good bacteria and yeasts that are helpful in the gut7. There are lots of foods that contain probiotics. You can boost your gut health and your immune system by consuming these regularly. These include8:

 

✓ ‘Live’ or ‘active’ yogurt

 

 Fermented milk drinks including kefir


✓ Pickled vegetables, including European sauerkraut and Korean kimchi


 Miso, a soybean paste used in soups, stir-fries and other Japanese dishes


✓ Some cheeses, including gouda, cheddar, mozzarella and cottage cheese


✓ Sourdough bread


✓ Tempeh, an Indonesian patty and popular meat substitute made from fermented soybeans







2. Use a probiotic supplement

A simple, effective way of including probiotics in your diet, and your whole family’s, is to take a probiotic supplement for kids or adults7. Choosing a good probiotic, recommended by a doctor, is a really easy way to boost your digestive health and to support your immune system9.

Not all good bacteria can survive food storage processes or stomach acids en route to the gut10. A good probiotic supplement has been designed to withstand these better so that more of the good bacteria can reach your gut10.






3. Eat a healthy, balanced diet

Support your digestive health by eating a healthy, balanced diet with lots of fiber11. A good diet should help to improve the diversity of good bacteria in the gut6 and reduce inflammation and discomfort11.

For a healthy gut, follow these food dos and don’ts12.

Do eat:

 

✓ Fruits and vegetables

 

 Nuts and seeds


✓ Whole-grain breads and cereals


 Beans and pulses


✓ Healthy fats like olive oil


✓ Lean meats and fish, or other healthy sources of protein like tofu and tempeh


✓ Tempeh, an Indonesian patty and popular meat substitute made from fermented soybeans


Don’t consume too much:

 

✓ Heavily processed food

 

 Sugar


✓ Salt







4. Avoid overusing antibiotics

Antibiotics are a vital line of attack against nasty bacterial infections13. However, they may also kill much of the friendly bacteria alongside the bad13. If you have recently used or often need antibiotics, then you have extra reason to boost your gut health with probiotics7.



Remember…

Support your gut by eating healthily and making sure you are regularly promoting good bacteria with lots of probiotics foods or a high-quality supplement7. You’ll feel better and your immune system will get a boost, too, helping make it fight-ready against viruses and bad bacteria.



References:

  1. NYU Department of Medicine. Your Gut Feeling: A Healthier Digestive System Means a Healthier You. https://med.nyu.edu/medicine/gastro/about-us/Gastroenterology-news-archive/your-gut-feeling-healthier-digestive-system-means-healthier#:~:text=The%20gastrointestinal%20system%2C%20also%20referred,intestine%2C%20colon%2C%20and%20rectum. Last visited February 10 2021
  2. Harvard Health Publishing (Harvard Medical School). Can Gut Bacteria Improve Your Health? https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/can-gut-bacteria-improve-your-health. Last visited February 2021.
  3. Biochemical Journal. Introduction to the Human Gut Microbiota. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5433529/. Last visited February 10 2021.
  4. Nature: Signal Transduction and Targeted Therapy. Immune Response in COVID-19: Addressing a Pharmacological Challenge by Targeting Pathways Triggered by SARS-CoV-2. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41392-020-0191-1. Last visited February 10 2021.
  5. European Journal of Nutrition. Gut Microbiota Functions: Metabolism of Nutrients and Other Food Components. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5847071/. Last visited February 10 2021.
  6. BDA: The Association of British Dieticians. Give Your Friendly Gut Bacteria a Helping Hand. https://www.bda.uk.com/resource/give-your-friendly-gut-bacteria-a-helping-hand.html. Last visited February 10 2021.
  7. NHS UK. Probiotics. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/probiotics/. Last visited February 10 2021.
  8. Harvard Health Publishing (Harvard Medical School). How to Get More Probiotics. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-to-get-more-probiotics. Last visited February 11 2021.
  9. National Library of Medicine. Live probiotics protect intestinal epithelial cells from the effects of infection with enteroinvasive Escherichia coli (EIEC). https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12801956/. Last visited February 11 2021.
  10. American Society for Microbiology: Applied and Environmental Biology. Survival of Probiotic Lactobacilli in Acidic Environments Is Enhanced in the Presence of Metabolizable Sugars. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1151822/. Last visited February 11 2021.
  11. NHS UK. How to Get More Fibre Into Your Diet. https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/how-to-get-more-fibre-into-your-diet/. Last visited February 11 2021.
  12. Johns Hopkins Medicine. 5 Foods to Improve Your Digestion. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/5-foods-to-improve-your-digestion. Last visited March 1 2021.
  13. Nature. Stop the Killing of Beneficial Bacteria. https://www.nature.com/articles/476393a. Last visited February 11 2021.