Does optimising your gut health really help in your fight against colds and flu? Read on to discover more.
Scientists are increasingly focusing on the link between our immune system and our gut. Recently its been recognised that the ‘friendly’ lactic-acid producing bacteria within our large intestine may even help to protect us against common infections such as colds and flu, so the link between immunity and gut health is very real indeed.
This isn’t at all surprising when you realise that around 70 per cent of our entire immune system is found within the lining of the intestines, in what is known as our gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT). In fact, this is where you’ll also find 80% of our antibody producing immune cells hanging out. They form white patches throughout the gut, known as Peyer’s Patches. Perhaps even more importantly, this is where our T-cells form any new immune memories needed against newly discovered infections.
Funnily enough, when I see clients for IBS and we start to tackle their gut health, one of the first improvements they tend to notice is with their immunity. They comment that although everyone around them is dropping like flies, they’ve escaped unscathed!
Immunity & gut health: The mucosal barrier
Our first point of contact for bacteria, viruses and other pathogens is our mucosal barrier. This is the layer of mucus which covers our oral cavity, digestive system, reproductive and respiratory tracts.
This mucus layer should be packed with antibodies and will eliminate potential invaders before we’ve even had a chance to realise we were under attack.
How do you keep it healthy?
Vitamin A and zinc are vital nutrients for keeping your mucosal barrier healthy, strengthening both your gut health and immunity.
Prebiotics from food and supplements keep your friendly bacteria well fed. Prebiotic-rich foods to include are –
- Boiled and cooled potatoes
Ensuring you’re eating a diverse diet can be a nightmare when you’re suffering with your gut, especially as so many of these ‘healthy’ foods are also big trigger foods. If this is the case for you I’d highly recommend downloading my online course The Ultimate Gut Health Programme to help you eat safely, whilst avoiding triggering symptoms.
It’d be impossible to include all you need to know in one blog, but the programme will have all you need to know to ensure you’re soothing your digestive system, whilst eating delicious and filling foods.
Eat to strengthen your immunity & gut health
It goes without saying that a nutrient-dense diet is what’s needed if you want a robust immune system, so focus on –
- Leafy greens
- Citrus fruits
- Sweet potato
Again, for more guidance around how to include all these foods into your diet, and for some inspiration check out the programme – it has loads of really simple recipes and meal plans – if that’s what you’d find useful. To really help you pull all this together – otherwise I know it can be overwhelming.
To further strengthen your immunity, ensure you minimise or avoid –
- Ultra processed foods
- Excessive alcohol intake (this is very damaging to your gut)
It’s a double-win if you can reduce sugar as you’ll help your immunity as well as your digestion.
Minimise stress – vital to strengthen your immunity
Ongoing stress weakens your body’s ability to fight infections. It’s not always possible to avoid sources of stress, but its our reaction to it which is important. That’s where practices such as meditation and gratitude are vitally important. Whereas herbal teas containing chamomile and lemon balm can be especially soothing.
I hope this helps you avoid the dreaded bugs this winter.
If you would like to speak to me about any aspect of your gut health, then please use this link to book into my diary for a FREE 30 minute chat so I can find out more about what is going on for you. Alternatively please use the ‘Learn More’ link below.
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