The link between your gut health and your immune system

Digestive problems, allergies, asthma, autoimmune diseases, mood disorders and general sickness are just some of the many symptoms that can all be correlated to how well your gut health is being maintained. As more research becomes available, the more it reveals the connections between gut health and its importance to overall health.

Gut health

We have billions of microbiota that makes up our body’s flora. However, it is the gut flora that promotes normal gastrointestinal function, provides protection from infection, regulates metabolism and comprises more than 70% of our immune system. This gut flora requires a co-existing relationship between good and bad bacteria. It is the gut that prevents foreign substances into the body, and also determines whether to react to toxic substances that we ingest. Therefore, when our intestinal flora is sub-optimal or disrupted by stress, anti-biotic use, diet and/or bad bacteria or toxins, it can lead to a cascade of events: increased inflammation, allergies and disruptive changes in gut permeability.

An increase in gut permeability is also known as ‘leaky gut syndrome’. This can allow certain molecules to escape into the bloodstream. As these molecules don’t belong outside the gut, the body creates an immune response to attack these molecules and remove them from the system. The immune system will cause an inflammatory response to these foreign invaders, which is a critical protective mechanism, however it becomes a problem when the inflammation becomes chronic. Research is now showing that these changes in gut permeability plays a role in various autoimmune diseases such as celiac disease and Type I Diabetes.

Getting your gut bacteria healthy is one of the most important factors in getting and staying healthy. Hence, a great place to start improving your entire health is to improve your gut health and what you’re ingesting.

Gut bacteria, both good and bad co-exist within the entire intestinal system, however the ratios of good: bad will change depending on what you feed them.

Feed your gut whole, fresh, unprocessed foods and your good gut bacteria will thrive.

Feed your gut junk, processed, toxic foods or medications and your bad gut bacteria will flourish. These types of foods also alter fat regulating hormones such as insulin, which leaves you craving more junk food.

And if that’s not enough to start looking into your diet and making positive changes, there is a major connection between the gut and the brain, known as the brain-gut axis. Research has been done on rats to prove the huge impact that neural stimulation from the vagus nerve in the brain has on leaky gut syndrome.

Not only does your gut have its own nervous system (the enteric nervous system), it has more neurons than the brain and the spinal cord, and the gut is estimated to produce 90% of serotonin which affects mood, behaviours, appetite, digestion, sleep, memory, sexual desire and bodily functions.

Now we can understand why our gut needs to be completely in balance to maintain optimal health and wellness, including our emotional and physical states.

For more information, give us a call. Book a session with our osteopath, Amy Kivell, who will help to work out if your gut health could be associated with other conditions/ symptoms that you may be dealing with.

Amy Kivell

Osteopath

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