All over the world people have been researching ways to boost their natural immunity. The latest science-based research suggests that our immunity relies on a healthy gut microbiome.
Scientists, researchers, and physicians at Viome Life Sciences research on ways to boost immunity and the gut-immune system connection.
What is gut microbiome
You may think your gut microbiome is in your stomach, but it’s actually located in your large and small intestines.
The microbiome contains all the microbes that reside within our intestinal tract, and those microbes are made of bacteria, fungi, yeast and viruses. It’s estimated that about 100 trillion microbes are found inside the human body, with many of them residing in our gut.
As you eat, the acid found in your stomach destroys a lot of the pathogens you consume, which are consuming microbes all the time through our food and water. But the ones that escape that gastric acid then move down to your intestinal tract.
A healthy gut microbiome is the goal. A variety of factors can affect its balance, including your diet, infections, and medications. The microbiome of your gut can also influence your mental and physical health.
How microbiome assists in immunity
Fighting off viruses
When it comes to viruses, even bacteria are susceptible to viral infections. They also have unique ways to keep their environment healthy. When beneficial microbes are balanced and strong, it’s easier for them to communicate when they sense a new viral pathogen.
This communication, called quorum sensing, helps them react faster to their own immune defense systems. This translates to healthy microbes that are less likely to be wiped out from viruses, impacting the health of our gut.
A healthy microbiome = a healthy immune response
Keeping your gut microbiome healthy and functioning optimally is key in supporting a healthy, robust immune response. You can see this when you are able to fight off colds easily in a few days, or successfully make it through flu season without becoming severely ill.
Importance of your gut microbiome
Your intestinal tract is your largest immune system organ, with about 80% of your immune-producing cells living there.
Research is ongoing on how the gut microbiome works in tandem with parts of the body like your brain, heart, liver and lungs.
Symptoms of an unhealthy gut microbiome
An imbalance of healthy and unhealthy microbes and their function is known as gut dysbiosis.
People with gut dysbiosis may experience mental health issues or mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety, although not all symptoms of an unhealthy gut microbiome are the same for everyone.
Some common symptoms may include:
- Acid reflux or heartburn
If you have gut dysbiosis, it may be linked with other conditions like:
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
How healthy is your microbiome?
When our individual biologies are as diverse and as infinite as the stars, how do we know what supplements and foods are exactly right for us?
A Full Body Intelligence™ Test from our partners at Viome can give you the answers you’re looking for.
How to improve your gut microbiome
Eat a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables
Start by sticking to a healthy diet! You want to have “microbial diversity,” which will lead to better gut health. Think about adding in more variety to your diet and a plate full of colorful produce. For example, make a salad that includes kale with other vegetables and fruits like peppers, tomatoes and berries.
Add fiber to your diet
Another vital part of your diet is making sure you’re eating enough fiber. It’s recommended that women eat 25 grams of fiber per day and men 35 grams of fiber per day.
Fiber helps keep your bowel movements regular, but also helps lower cholesterol and keeps your blood sugar levels from spiking. High-fiber foods include whole-wheat pasta, chickpeas, lentils and berries.
It’s also suggested that eating a diet low in animal meat and simple sugars and watching how much processed foods and refined sugar you consume.
Eat fermented foods
Consider adding fermented foods like yogurt, kimchi and kombucha to your diet.
These fermented foods help introduce good bacteria into your gut microbiome and can lower your intestine’s pH level. By doing so, it can decrease the chance that bad bacteria survive, which keeps your gut microbiome healthy.
By having good bacteria in your gut microbiome, it also produces essential vitamins like B12 and K. Vitamin B-12 plays an essential role in red blood cell formation, cell metabolism, nerve function and the production of DNA, the molecules inside cells that carry genetic information – while Vitamin K helps to make various proteins that are needed for blood clotting and the building of healthy bone tissue.
Your stress level can impact your gut health, which means psychological stress, physical stress, and metabolic stress can impact your gut health.
How can you work on reducing your stress levels? Turn to relaxation techniques like deep breathing and meditation to help lower your stress and anxiety. You can also try to exercise regularly and prioritize sleep.
Maintain a regular eating schedule
In addition to eating a well-balanced diet, it’s also important when you eat. If you’re a late-night eater, your microbiome is not likely geared up to metabolize those nutrients as well. Try to stick to eating your meals at the same time each day.
Consider probiotic and prebiotic supplements
Prebiotics, which can be found naturally in artichokes, apples and green bananas, are a type of fiber that supports the growth of healthy bacteria.
Probiotics are live good bacteria that can maintain or help get to a healthy, balanced gut microbiome. There are two popular types of bacteria commonly found in supplement form: Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.
You can get the benefits of probiotics and prebiotics from the foods that you eat. But you can also use a supplement.
It’s important to know that many OTC probiotic and prebiotic supplements are designed to treat specific gastrointestinal issues, such as diarrhea or bloating—which is why it’s ideal to ingest supplements that are specifically targeted for all of your individual gut health needs.
Consider having your personal gut health tested
The Full Body Intelligence™ Test from our partners at Viome can tell you more about the state of your gut health, and what to do about it.
The test is shipped straight to your door, and your results will reveal:
- Superfoods that will give your body the immunity boost it may be looking for
- Foods to avoid that may be harmful to your body
- Overall health scores for gut health, inflammation response, cellular energy and energy efficiency, and more
- Personalized supplement recommendations based on your health scores
The bottom line
Your gut bacteria–which collectively make up the microbiome–are extremely important for many aspects of your overall health and wellness. Many studies have now shown that a disrupted microbiome can lead to numerous chronic diseases.
The best way to maintain a healthy microbiome is to eat a range of fresh, whole foods, mainly from plant sources like fruits, veggies, legumes, beans, and whole grains and to take prebiotics and probiotics to assist in your gut health needs.
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