Updated: Nov 2
In today's climate after a major pandemic and new viruses springing from it, we have a need to boost our immune system. This doesn't mean we wont get viruses or bacterial illnesses, but it could mean the difference between getting really sick or having milder symptoms. Nutrition is a big part of this as well as good sleep, reducing stress and keeping active.
Starting with the short video above I have done a short series on the immune system and how you can support it. I hope you enjoy it.
To watch the rest of this series here are the links:-
Gut health is Key to Good Immune Health
We now know that 80% of our immune support is located in the gut. There are a number of ways the gut supports immunity.
Stomach acid is the first line of defense to preventing pathogens (bacteria, viruses) from entering our digestive system. Stomach acid is very powerful and eliminates many of the troublesome pathogens that can make us ill. If we suffer with low stomach acid this means that more pathogens can enter our lower digestive system and bring on symptoms of illness.
Gut-Associated Lymphoid Tissue (GALT): GALT is a significant component of the immune system located in the gastrointestinal tract, particularly in the mucosa of the small and large intestines. It includes specialized immune cells like Peyer's patches and isolated lymphoid follicles that help defend against harmful pathogens in the gut.
Gut Microbiota: The trillions of microorganisms living in the gut, collectively known as the gut microbiota, have a profound impact on the immune system. These microbes help maintain a healthy balance of immune responses, regulate inflammation, and protect against pathogenic invaders. A diverse and balanced gut microbiota is crucial for optimal immune function.
Mucosal Immunity: The mucosal lining of the gastrointestinal tract contains various immune cells, such as secretory IgA-producing B cells and intraepithelial lymphocytes, which defend against infections. They help prevent the entry of harmful pathogens and toxins through the gut lining into the bloodstream.
Gut-Associated Immune Cells: The digestive system contains a significant number of immune cells, including macrophages, dendritic cells, and T lymphocytes, which monitor the gut environment for potential threats and help initiate immune responses when necessary.
Peyer's Patches: Peyer's patches are clusters of lymphoid tissue found in the small intestine. They contain immune cells that help protect against pathogens and maintain immune surveillance in the gut.
Gut-Produced Immunoglobulins: The digestive system produces various antibodies, including secretory IgA, which help neutralize and eliminate pathogens within the gut.
Gut-Immune System Communication: The gut and the immune system are in constant communication through signaling molecules and cytokines. This crosstalk helps regulate immune responses and maintain immune balance.
Antimicrobial Peptides: The gut produces antimicrobial peptides, such as defensins and cathelicidins, which have antibacterial and antiviral properties and play a role in protecting against infections in the digestive tract.
Tolerance Development: The digestive system also contributes to immune tolerance, ensuring that the immune system does not overreact to harmless antigens, such as food proteins. Failure to develop tolerance can lead to allergies and autoimmune diseases.
Maintaining a healthy and well-balanced digestive system is essential for supporting overall immunity. Factors like diet, probiotics, prebiotics, and lifestyle choices can influence the health of the gut and its impact on the immune system. A diet rich in fibre, fermented foods, and diverse nutrients can help promote a thriving gut microbiota, leading to improved immune function. Nourish your gut this winter and help protect your immune system.
Marie Jarvis, Nutritional Therapist / Nutritionist, BANT