Your gut health and immune system are allies in the fight against viruses and infection. After all, 80% of your body’s immune system lives in your gut.
Think of your immune system as the army inside your body. When this army is strong and supported by a healthy gut, it has the tools to fight off attacks. However, when your immune system is weak it is vulnerable to these attacks.
With flu season approaching, added to an ongoing pandemic, it is more important than ever to fortify your gut health and your immune system to give it the support it needs to fight off these invasions. And the best way to support your immune system is to take care of your gut!
I am about to tell you how you can give your immune system and gut health the tools they need to be ready for the upcoming flu season. Let’s take a closer look at what exactly your immune system does, and why improving gut health is essential to support a healthy immune system response.
What is Your Immune System & What Does it Do?
Your immune system is a network of cells, organs, and tissues that work harmoniously to fight off infections and disease.1 When bacteria or a virus enter a healthy body, your immune system sends out antibodies to defend against foreign invaders.
There are two parts to your immune system: The innate and the adaptive systems.
Innate Immune System
This is your frontline defender against germs entering the body. It consists of your skin and immune system cells and proteins. Your innate immune system responds the same way to all germs and foreign substances. For example, when bacteria enters the body and is detected, your innate immune system quickly attacks and destroys it.
Your innate immune system is what triggers an inflammatory response. Its cells release substances to the area that make the blood vessels wider, which causes the area to swell and heat up to protect other cells in your body.
Adaptive Immune System
The adaptive immune system is your second line of defense. It takes over when your innate immune system is unable to destroy foreign invaders. While your innate immune system is programmed at birth, your adaptive immune system actively learns. It keeps a database of every germ it has defeated so it knows to destroy it again in the future. However, before it can defend your body against a germ, it has to learn about the germ to make sure it’s not a healthy cell. That means it’s slower to respond, however it’s much more accurate.
Your adaptive immune system is made up of T-cells, B-Cells, and antibodies in the blood, such as white blood cells.
When your immune system is working optimally, acute inflammation is a critical weapon that protects you against severe and immediate stressors. This type of inflammation is localized — think a sore throat or red, inflamed skin around a cut. It subsides once the threat is gone.
When your immune system is suppressed or weak, it cannot defend itself against harmful bacteria or viruses.2 This can lead to chronic inflammation and puts your body in a state of constant alert. This type of inflammatory response is often the root cause of autoimmune disease.
The best way to support your immune system starts with your gut! Let’s discuss why your gut is the gateway to optimal health!
The Gut is the Gateway to Optimal Health
You cannot have a healthy immune system without a healthy gut. As I mentioned earlier, your gut health and immune system are allies in the fight against foreign invaders. When working correctly, it can distinguish between different types of bacteria, keeping the good and warding off the bad.3
However, sometimes your immune system goes rogue and begins attacking your own tissues. It could be your thyroid under attack, your intestines, your skin, your brain, your pancreas, or another organ. No matter what part of your body is under siege, the underlying problem is within your immune system.
This means in order to treat, prevent, and reverse your autoimmune disease you’ll need to get your immune system back under control. In order to do that, you must address your gut health. Your gut is the foundation of your whole body’s health. Without a healthy gut, you can’t have a healthy immune system. Without a healthy immune system, you’re open to infections, inflammation, and autoimmune disease. Don’t worry, I’m going to tell you how you can fortify your gut health and immune system. Let’s begin with your gut!
Ways to Support Your Immune System
Supporting your immune system is really quite simple. The best way to support your immune response is to supply your body with all the vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients it needs. I will let you in on my secret weapon for optimal support in just a minute. Here are ways you can support your gut health and immune system for the upcoming flu season.
Heal Your Gut
Without a healthy gut, your immune system cannot do its job. Problems in our gastrointestinal (GI) tract can cause more than just stomach pain, gas, bloating or diarrhea; they can be the root cause of many chronic health problems. Gut imbalances and leaky gut have been linked to hormonal imbalances, autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, diabetes, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, anxiety, depression, eczema and rosacea, just to name a few.
As a functional medicine doctor, I used the 4R approach to treating gut infections in my patients. This proven approach begins by removing all inflammatory foods from your diet, such as corn, gluten, dairy, and eggs. Then you replace the bad with good bacteria. Using supplements like digestive enzymes supports optimal digestion and promotes intestinal repair and a healthy inflammatory response.
The next step is to reinoculate the beneficial bacteria in your gut with high-potency probiotics to re-establish a healthy microbiome. If you do have SIBO, I recommend taking a soil-based probiotic that’s free from lactic acid which can make your SIBO symptoms worse.
The final step in the 4R approach is to repair your gut by providing your gut with the essential nutrients it needs to repair itself. My most comprehensive supplement for this is Leaky Gut Revive®.
Eat These Foods
Once you’ve repaired your gut, it will help you absorb the nutrients you need to fortify your gut health and immune system. By replacing toxic and inflammatory foods with nutrient-rich options that help proper digestion and absorption, you can drastically improve your nutrient intake and take back control of your health. Let’s take a look at some of the best foods that you should be eating to help repair your gut.
Bone broth is at the top of my list as one of the most important foods to repair your gut. Bone broth contains gelatin and collagen, two superstars for supporting a healthy mucosal lining, proper digestion, and intestinal function. Glucosamine in bone broth assists in repairing a leaky gut by supporting a healthy inflammatory response and stimulating the growth of new gut cells.4
Bone broth contains amino acids like glycine and glutamine that aid digestion and promotes gut health.
Ginger root gets its name from its active ingredient – gingerol. Gingerol reduces oxidative stress, is a free radical scavenger, and supports proper digestion. What’s more, ginger root is an age-old remedy for digestive complaints. Ginger is known for its ability to ease nausea and can help relieve stomach cramps, gas, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea. Ginger can also promote nutrient absorption.5
Vitamin C-rich Foods
Vitamin C is a free radical scavenger that plays a vital role in supporting a healthy immune system response. In fact, it is critical for the development, growth, and repair of all your body’s tissues. The daily recommended value of vitamin C is 65 to 90 mg.2 However, you should get 500mg of vitamin C each day to receive the optimal benefits of this essential nutrient. Eating enough vitamin C-rich foods is a great way to support your gut health and immune system as flu season approaches.
However, It can be difficult for the body to absorb all of the vitamin C we consume each day. That’s why I personally formulated Liposomal Vitamin C. It contains 1,000 mg of vitamin C bound to fatty acids for max absorption. It yields a 135% higher absorption rate than traditional vitamin C supplements and is a product I stand behind and personally consume each and every day.
Your body turns beta-carotene into Vitamin A, which is essential to promote a healthy immune system response because it supports your body’s natural defenses. This includes the mucous barriers in your eyes and your gut that traps bacteria and viruses. Vitamin A also facilitates the production of white blood cells, which fights off pathogens in your bloodstream.
Some great beta-carotene foods include leafy green vegetables, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, carrots, and apricots.
Zinc is a mineral that plays a crucial role in healthy skin appearance, a well-functioning thyroid, and white blood cell production, which is essential for a healthy immune system. There are plenty of foods rich in zinc, including sweet potatoes, grass-fed beef, free-range chicken, wild-caught fish and dark chocolate.
Our bodies are designed to handle acute stress, however, long-term stress can weaken your immune system response and leave it vulnerable to viruses and disease. I give a long list of different ways to relieve your stress in The Autoimmune Solution. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Breathing: Meditation and breathing exercises will help calm your anxiety and stress. I recommend the app HeartMath.
- Dance: Just moving your body can help you literally “shake off” your stress.
- Listen to music: Amazingly, half an hour of listening to music can reduce your cortisol levels. Cortisol is the stress hormone.
- Gentle exercise: I always enjoy going on a walk with my family. A long walk in a natural setting and changing your environment can help you get away from your stress.
Get Optimal Sleep
Sleep is a vital part of learning, memory retention, and even detoxifying your body. Inadequate sleep can impact your heart, brain, slow down your metabolism, cause depression and anxiety, and weaken your immune system and gut health.
The amount of sleep you need for gut health and your immune system depends greatly on your age. As you get older, your body and brain require less sleep to recover and develop. For example, a child between the ages of 0 to 5 needs between 10 to 14 hours of sleep each day, including naps.10 However, adults typically need 7 hours or more for optimal sleep.
The best way to get enough sleep is to follow 3 simple steps for optimal sleep.
- Eat these – Foods rich in tryptophan, magnesium, and melatonin. Turkey, chicken, and shellfish are great sources of tryptophan, while bananas, avocados, and green leafy vegetables contain a lot of magnesium. Your body naturally produces melatonin, however you can also get it from pork, salmon and cherries.
- Skip these – Fatty foods, rich proteins, chocolate, alcohol and coffee, and over-the-counter medications that could contain hidden caffeine and sugar. Check your labels!
- Get tired naturally – Having a regular sleep schedule, waking up early and going to bed early, exercising, and creating a bedtime routine are great ways to promote optimal sleep.
Taking these steps are essential to naturally supporting your immune system, however sometimes your gut health and immune system need a little additional support. Now, I’m going to tell you my secret weapon I use to support my immune system.
Supplements to Support Your Immune System
As the flu season approaches, it is more important than ever to ensure you’re getting all the nutrients to fortify your gut health and immune system. For overall support for your immune system and gut health, I recommend ImmunIG™.
ImmunIG™ is the complete package when it comes to support for your gut health and immune system. With optimal levels of immune system-boosting and ultra-bioavailable vitamin C and A, ImmunIG™ boosts your antioxidant levels.
These antioxidants — alongside chelated zinc and a proprietary blend of herbs — provide your body extra support at the cellular level to respond to immune challenges and oxidative stress. healthy gut repair mechanisms to promote a healthy gut barrier. ImmunIG™ also offers concentrated immunoglobulins to support a healthy immune system response.
Immunoglobulins are special proteins created by your immune system. Your white blood cells create these glycoproteins to bind to all kinds of antigens. Viruses, bacteria, fungi, parasites, even inflammatory proteins from the foods we eat may all be bound by immunoglobulins in order to be destroyed or carried out of the body through the bowel.
- Immune System: Parts & Common Problems. Cleveland Clinic. 2020.
- Immune System. KidsHealth. 2019.
- The Gut: Where Bacteria and Immune System Meet. John Hopkins Medicine. 2015.
- Effects of Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate on Cartilage Metabolism in OA: Outlook on Other Nutrient Partners Especially Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Jörg Jerosch. International Journal of Rheumatology Vol. 2011. 2011.
- 5 Ways Ginger Benefits Digestion. Melissa Gundersen. Gut Health Project. 2016.