Today, I want to give you some helpful, researched information to help you look after your gut and immune system.
Your gut, from your mouth to your anus, is a closed tube with a very specialised lining. This lining creates a barrier that separates the inside of your body from anything potentially damaging you’ve ingested, like toxins or plasticisers, chemicals on food, and pathogenic microbes that cause infections. At the same time these gut lining cells digest and absorb the goodness from your food. These cells have the ability to selectively manage what comes into the body and what must be kept out and it does so, in collaboration with your beneficial gut bacteria.
In functional medicine, a gut lining which is damaged and isn’t keeping unwanted molecules out of the body is called a “leaky gut”. In medical terms, it’s called “increased intestinal permeability”. More and more studies have found that a leaky gut can damage the functioning of both your gut and your immune system. Somebody with a leaky gut might experience food sensitivities, irritable bowel syndrome, mood changes, fatigue, joint and skin complaints. When a leaky gut persists for many years, the immune system can become over-run and develop more serious problems like autoimmune disease.
Causes of leaky gut vary, but one of the most important is “dysbiosis”. Dysbiosis is an imbalance in the bacteria in the gut – too many harmful bacteria, yeasts or parasites and not enough good bacteria. Dysbiosis is commonly caused by a poor diet, a course of antibiotics, frequent use of antacids, stress, certain medications and toxins.
The good news is that you can simultaneously improve your gut health and your immune health. Here’s some you could consider.
Change your food
- Eat more fruits and veggies, especially those rich in polyphenols and bioflavonoids (the deeply coloured ones) and fibre. These feed the good bacteria.
- Remove foods from your diet that feed the bad bacteria like sugar, artificial sweeteners, processed flour products (bread, cakes, biscuits, bagels, pancakes, croissants, muffins etc., alcohol, and too many animal products (more than 30% of your daily diet).
- Test yourself for food sensitivities and remove aggravating foods such as gluten, dairy, soy, corn, eggs and the nightshade vegetables. Ask me for help.
Change your dysbiosis
Start with cleansing herbs like berberine, grape seed extract, black walnut, and oregano that can reduce the numbers of bad bacteria and yeast. I use a tried and tested Functional Medicine, 30-day gut cleanse programme.
Take a probiotic
Once you have reduced the troublesome bacteria and yeasts, you want to rebuild colonies of beneficial bacteria to keep you healthy. Taking a probiotic supplement and eating fermented foods daily are the best ways.
To your best health,
König, J., Wells, J., Cani, P.D., García-Ródenas, C.L., MacDonald, T., Mercenier, A., Whyte, J., Troost, F. and Brummer, R.J., 2016. Human intestinal barrier function in health and disease. Clinical and translational gastroenterology, 7(10), p.e196.
Grenham, S., Clarke, G., Cryan, J.F. and Dinan, T.G., 2011. Brain–gut–microbe communication in health and disease. Frontiers in physiology, 2, p.94.