The immune system has a vital role in the body, that is to protect us from foreign and harmful invaders. It is made up of a group of cells, proteins and organs that work together to protect the body against viruses, pathogens, germs and fungi. The immune cells act as the body’s first line of defense by recognizing, identifying, and neutralizing any harmful substances that were found in the body.
Do you know that nearly 70% of our immune system is housed in the gut? This is why maintaining the balance and health of digestive system is important to protect the immune system.
How Gut Health Affect the Immune System
The immune system and the gut bacteria are closely linked. The relationship between these two begins at birth, when the body first comes in contact with bacteria. The immune system shapes the microbiome’s diversity through time, and the gut has an impact on the immune system’s strength and development. The gut and the immune system work together to keep the body healthy.
The gut microbiota, serves as a gatekeeper and a trainer. It teaches immune cells (T-cells), how to tell the difference between foreign objects and own tissue. So, when there are viruses that have managed to intrude the body’s cells, the immune cells will mediate the situation and eliminate infected cells. This is why it’s critical to have a strong immune system and a healthy gut communication.
When everything is in order, the gut sends out signals that encourage the development of healthy immune function. In exchange, the immune system helps with the production of good bacteria in the microbiome. When these two are in good working order, the body can respond to infections and tolerate harmless germs, avoiding an autoimmune response and ensuring overall health.
Furthermore, any communication problems between gut bacteria and immune cells are known to lead to diseases. Since the immune system is linked to the gut microbiota, any problems with the gut will result in lowered immunity.
Signs & Symptoms of Weak Immune System Related to the Gut
The main signs and symptoms of weak immune system related to gut is digestive problems. If you find yourself having problems like constipation, diarrhea, gas, bloating and upset stomach, it could mean something’s up with the immune system. This is especially true if the problems are regular and last for weeks at a time.
Ways to Boost Immune System Through Gut
Watch what you eat
Foods that we consume everyday affect how our digestive system operates and can disrupt the balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut. Fiber-rich foods for example grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables helps to regulate the digestive tract, promote regular bowel movements and support good bacteria in gut. On the other hand, processed foods that usually contains additives, artificial sweeteners, salts and also saturated fats may lead to digestive issues.
Add more fluids
Drinking plenty of water has been shown to have a beneficial effect on the mucosal lining of the intestines, as well as on the balance of good bacteria in the gut. It also works in removing toxins from the body, so adding more fluids could help prevent toxins from building up and have a negative impact on the immune system. Not just only plain water, any herbal teas, fruits and vegetables like watermelon, tomatoes or cucumber that contain high amounts of water and non-caffeinated can help.
Limit caffeine and alcohol intake
Caffeine and alcohol can disrupt the balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut. Alcohol also may increase acid production in the stomach, leading to heartburn and acid reflux while, caffeine increases the gut motility which may lead to lose stools or diarrhea, as well as increased urine output. However, moderate intake of coffee (1 to 2 cups per day), may not cause any harm.
Taking a brisk walk after eating or do any physical activity for about 30 minutes/ day on a few days in a week helps promote regular bowel movements and reduce inflammation in the body. Physical activity really helps to move food through the digestive system. Besides that, exercising can also boost the immunity by increasing the cortisol levels.
Find ways to relax
Stress can impact the immune and digestive systems. When you are stressed up, the blood and energy normally used by the digestive system needs to be used by other areas of the body to manage the stress. So, the intestinal barrier become weaker and allow gut bacteria to enter the body. At the same time, due to stress, the immune system’s ability to fight off the bacteria is reduced and more susceptible to infections.
Probiotics are healthy gut bacteria that can give the digestive health a boost and also works to protect from illness by keeping harmful microorganisms from entering the body through gut. Besides, the interaction between gut cells and probiotics regulates the immune system because a healthy digestive system has link to improvements in immune function.
Choosing a supplement with the best combination of ingredients that include vitamins and minerals which are known for their immune-enhancing potential to ensure that it can help to improve the immune response and potentially protect against illness. However, these supplements should not be used as a replacement for a healthy lifestyle. Example of supplement that are good for the immune system may include vitamin C, vitamin D and zinc.
- Wu H., & Wu E. The role of gut microbiota in immune homeostasis and autoimmunity. Gut Microbes. 2012 Jan; 3(1): 4-14.
- How your Gut Affect your Immune System: A Symbiotic Relationship. Gilbert Lab. Retrieved from: https://gilbertlab.com/immune-system/gut-microbiome-symbiosis/
- 5 Ways to Boost Your Immune System Through Your Gut. Duly Health and Care. Retrieved from: https://www.dulyhealthandcare.com/health-topic/5-ways-to-boost-your-immune-system-through-your-gut