Our Gut Should Have Our Back
Jun 30, 2020 09:45AM
By Dana Elia
Tips for Supporting the Immune System Throughout Life Stages
There is a virtual army of microbes living on and within the human body, and can account for about three to five pounds of body weight. Beneficial microbes serve as a defensive line by taking up space that may have been desirable to an invader. They also help provide support in digestion, nutrient provision and absorption. With approximately 70 percent of the body’s immune system taking up residence in the gut, keep this microbial army healthy and well-fed to ensure a strong fundamental immunity at any age.
It’s never too early to begin supporting the army, nor is it ever too late to make some diet and lifestyle changes to improve the current state of affairs of a neglected one. Consider the upcoming suggestions to help ensure a healthy balance of diversity amongst gut microbes.
The following diet and lifestyle factors can weaken the microbial defenses and lead to an imbalance of good to bad microbes.
· Diets high in salt, poor-quality saturated fat, refined carbohydrates, sugars and chemical food additives, as well as excessive amounts of alcohol and caffeine
· Certain medications, such as pain and heartburn/reflux medicine, antibiotics, oral contraceptives and steroids
· Toxic exposure from sources like pathogens (bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites)
or from chemicals and heavy metals in the environment
· People with autoimmune diseases are more likely to have microbial imbalances.
After considering what may be depleting the army, make choices to help beneficial microbes flourish. Feed the gut foods that contain what beneficial flora like to eat—prebiotic fibers such as inulin, fructooligosaccharides and soluble fibers, as well as foods that are rich in probiotics. Choose organic, non-genetically modified foods from this list to provide a good mess hall for the army:
· Burdock root
· Chinese chives
· Cultured and fermented foods
· Cultured dairy, non-dairy kefir, yogurt
· Cultured vegetables
· Miso or tempeh
· Green tea
· Jerusalem artichokes
· Whole fruits
· Whole grains
Consider speaking with a clinician to help in the selection of a targeted supplement that contains the “good” gastrointestinal bacteria like bifidobacteria strains, lactobacillus strains and Saccharomyces boulardii. Taking the time to do a gut check is the best way to ensure the entire body’s immune system is armed and ready to “have your back”.
Dr. Dana M. Elia, MS, RDN, LDN, FAND, is the owner of Fusion Integrative Health & Wellness, LLC, in Lancaster. For more information, call 717-917-5259 or visit FusionIHW.com.