- Your digestive system is a barrier between your food and your body. As long as what you ingest stays in your digestive system it is technically outside your body. Think of it like the Chunnel, although the train is completely surrounded by water, it isn’t in the water. Food and pathogens that are in your digestive system are not in your body.
- Digestive acids and enzymes break food down and kill some of the pathogens that were present in your food.
- Gut flora protects against invaders by strengthening the physical defenses of the gut wall, compete with potential pathogens for space and food, regulate inflammation and produce antimicrobial substances.
- Gut mucosa connects with the largest population of immune cells, which are part of the lymphoid branch of the immune system
When your gut isn’t healthy, your immune system will struggle to keep up with viruses and bacteria that enter your body. It all starts with your gut flora, this is a community of microorganisms that live in your digestive tract. Your gut has about 500 species and about 3 pounds of bacteria which play a vital part in our digestion, immunity and our overall health.
I’ll admit, it’s a bit of a challenge to write a short concise post about the gut. Gut health is an important and detailed topic. To keep it simple I’ll use an analogy. Think of your gut like a garden. In a vegetable or flower garden you want the desired plants to outnumber the weeds. This is the same for your gut. Weeds like “bad” gut flora are not a problem as long as there aren’t too many, but there is a tipping point when the number becomes so large that they choke out the good plants or “good” gut flora.
Everything we eat either benefits the good or the bad microorganisms in our inner garden. When you eat probiotics or fermented foods it’s we introduce new plants to our garden. This is why I recommend you rotate probiotics to create a wide variety. When you eat sugars and simple carbs like refined grains it benefits the weeds. An alkaline diet benefits the plants, an acidic diet benefits the weeds.
If you are prescribed antibiotics or steroids it’s like using roundup on your whole garden, it wipes out a large number of plants and weeds. You’ll need to work hard to reintroduce and support the plants or your weeds will take over the garden. This can severely weaken your immune system.
Tips to keep your gut healthy
- Take a probiotic daily
- Eat fermented foods
- Eat whole foods
- Eat raw plants
- Avoid or cut back on sugar and refined grains
- Cut back on acidic foods
- Increase alkaline foods
- Avoid processed or packaged foods
- Eat foods high in Omega 3 or take a supplement