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"Trust Your Gut!"

Caroline Kavanagh | Apr 6, 2020

The expression, "trust your gut" could not be more accurate when associated with immunity.

On March 12, 2020 the coronavirus outbreak was officially labelled a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO).

An infection from the coronavirus can be a formidable threat to anyone – but older folks are in greater danger. Why? Historically the older we get, typically the weaker our immune systems become. But people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions are at a higher risk for severe illness. QUESTION: What do we do to boost our immunity? ANSWER: It starts with what we eat. The important link between diet, gut bacteria and immunity cannot be underestimated.


Gut health and the immune system are inextricably linked, with 70 to 80 percent of immune tissue residing in the digestive system. How our bodies feel and perform is a direct reflection of gut health.

All of the systems within the body work closely together to maintain optimal health, when one system is out of balance it can trigger a chain of events causing issues in other areas of the body, thus creating a cascade of chronic health complications. The intestines form a protective barrier between our bloodstream and the external "world" within the body. What’s inside the gut is actually “outside” the body. The gut has to contend with the pathogens in everything that is ingested and therefore we must have an effective immune system in place to ward off attacks and prevent illness. Boosting the action of the immune cells are certain strains of gut flora that prevent pathogens from being absorbed. This is why it is so important to have clusters of “good” bacteria in the gut. Without the right balance of gut flora, the body cannot maintain good health. And we have trillions of gut bacteria – about 1,000 different species, represented by some 5,000 distinct bacterial strains. Everyone's gut microbiota is unique, but there are certain combinations and collections of bacteria that are found in healthy individuals. Since the gut microbiota is so complex, it is difficult to pinpoint certain bacteria as the most beneficial. It would be great if a handful of bacteria could be identified and determined as the ones needed most, but it doesn't work that way. Unfortunately right now there is no magic bullet. WHAT DOES ALL THIS MEAN? Scientists are beginning to discover the vital link between diet, gut bacteria and the immune system. Diet is proposed to be the primary factor in determining gut microbiota diversity, which thus far, has been shown to be consistently reduced in diseased folks as compared to healthy populations. This strong evidence shows that the types of food you eat will directly determine the levels of certain bacteria in your gut. Changing your diet will change the kind of bacteria that you have, which will either support the strengthening of your immune system, or deplete its defensive capabilities. What foods should you eat? Diversify my friend! :)

A wide range of foods in your diet, especially high-fiber vegetables (load up!) and fruits result in a greater diversity of the microbiota. This wide array of food stuff feeds the good bacteria and keeps them plentiful. When the gut is happy...... guess what? You are happy :) The emphasis is on whole, unprocessed foods which help repopulate the gut with good bacteria. Additional foods to consider to promote the growth of healthy microbiota are: Probiotic-rich foods such as: low sugar yogurt (plain greek yogurt is my favorite), kefir, sauerkraut (Bubbies brand is fantastic), tempeh, kimchi, miso, kombucha, pickles (Bubbie brand again :), nato and cheeses such as cheddar, mozzarella and gouda.

Prebiotic- rich foods: onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus, artichokes, dandelion greens, bananas, barley, apples, jicama root, seaweed, cocoa, steele cut oats and chicory root.

A diverse microbiome is a healthy microbiome, containing many different species that each play their part in immunity and health. Microbiome diversity declines as you get older, which may help to explain some of the age-related changes we see in immune responses, so it’s even more necessary to maintain a healthy microbiome throughout life. There is no better time than NOW to make changes to your daily nutrition. The health benefits are enormous and can truly be life saving! QUESTION: How do we "trust our gut?" ANSWER: Feed it what it needs and know you are triggering your natural immunity system from the "INSIDEOUT!"

InsideOut Human Performance - nutrition:

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