The immune system is responsible for protecting the body from infections and illnesses. 80% of the immune system is in the gut. The gut (also known as the gastrointestinal tract) is the long tube that starts from the mouth and ends at the anus. The gut contains a whole host of bacteria which are very important in keeping the body protected. The gut contains of three types of bacteria (also known as Flora):
- The Essential Flora – they are the friendly bacteria. They dominate the other bacteria and keep the body protected. Below I have listed some Essential bacteria, you might come across these names on probiotic supplement labels:
- Bifidobacteria (Bifidobacteriumbifidum)
- Lactobacteria (Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus rhamnosus)
These bacteria provide a shield to protect the body from any bacteria, virus, fungi, toxin etc. that have been consumed through food or drink.
- Opportunistic flora – these bacteria are of a limited number and are controlled by the Essential flora. These bacteria can multiple if not controlled well by the Essential flora and can cause health problems.
- Transitional flora – these are bacteria that consumed when eating and drinking. They will pass through the gut causing no harm in a healthy body but can be absorbed into the body if the gut flora are compromised.
From this information we can tell that having a good balance of flora in the gut is very important in keeping the body protected. But there are many factors that can upset this very delicate balance. Food medication and water can all potentially harm the flora in the gut.
Medication – certain medications can destroy the Essential flora in the gut creating a gap in the body’s defence allowing other bacteria to enter the body. An antibiotic by definition is a medicine that destroys microorganisms. A course of antibiotics will kill both good and bad bacteria, leaving the immune system very weak. Antibiotics are very important and can be lifesaving, but we have to make sure we only use antibiotics when absolutely necessary. The overuse and incorrect prescribing is causing an increase in bacteria resistant to antibiotics. To find out more click here.
What can we do to boost our immune system?
Stop drinking chlorinated water – As I have mentioned in my previous posts “Improving The Quality Of Water You Drink” we need to filter tap water from chlorine and other contaminants and then remineralise with sea salt or Pink Mountain salt. For more information, check out that post.
Eliminate Sugar and artificial sweeteners – We should eliminate all forms of sugar and yeast from our diets. Sugar or anything that can be converted to sugar should be avoided as they are fuel for the bad bacteria in the gut, we don’t want to feed the bad bacteria as they will grow and multiply. So by cutting out sugar from our diet we will starve the bad bacteria. But this is definitely easier said than done when we realise that sugar is added to a lot of unexpected food products like Bottled Spaghetti Sauce, Barbecue Sauce and microwavable ready meals.
Okay, so we know how to starve the bad bacteria but how do we feed the good bacteria? Organic vegetables are the answer. Consuming lots of vegetables will feed the good bacteria, keeping them in optimal condition to defend the body.
Consume fermented foods – Fermented foods like sauerkraut contain a high number of good bacteria. Consuming them will introduce more good bacteria into the gut. You can ferment any vegetable. So you fill up a jar with organic vegetables add a little filtered water and seal the jar off for up to two weeks. Make sure you get rid of all the air, tightly pack the vegetables in and add water to fill the whole jar. The vegetables have good bacteria on them which will multiply over the two weeks. Also the bacteria will create B vitamins as they are a by-product of bacteria.
Avoid yogurt with sugar or sweeteners – sweetened yogurts are not good because they contain sugar which the bad bacteria feed of off. So if you are consuming sweetened yogurt to increase you friendly bacteria, you will be defeating the purpose because you will be feeding the bad bacteria making them stronger as well.
So to conclude, we can do many things to boost our immune system. We need to pay close attention to the food and drink we are consuming. Eating an overall unhealthy diet will result in allergic reactions and lead to autoimmune diseases as the body tries to handle the microbes and toxins passing through the gut. By correcting your diet you could reverse these health problems.
My next post will be all about vitamins. So keep an eye out for that. If you want to get in touch please email me on firstname.lastname@example.org. Make sure you comment, share and click that Subscribe button for all things Healthy.
[Note: This blog is only for informational purposes only. It is not medical advice or diagnosis. Please consult with a Health care practitioner before making any diet or nutrition changes.]