The importance of gut health for our immunity

Despite the fact that most people focus on their exterior health, gut health plays a major factor in our immune system. While it does not make for great cocktail party conversation, there is scientific research to suggest that improving our gut health can help to increase our immunity and overall health.

The basics

Remember that everything that we eat or drink is going to pass through our gastrointestinal tract (GI). That seems straightforward enough, but few realize that our GI tract is lined with millions of bacteria that metabolize, grow, and live in an already complex ecosystem. There are both beneficial and harmful bacteria inside of our GI.

While some people would assume that it is possible to simply eliminate the bad bacteria altogether, this would also not be beneficial. The goal is to have a larger number of the beneficial bacteria. These are often referred to as probiotic bacteria. A few examples include lactic acid bacteria and bifidobacteria. These can help prevent diseases of the gut and other organs in the body and thus ensure overall good health.

Recent studies show that our gut microflora is closely involved in a number of different health aspects. These include our stress response, behaviour, and nutritional status. They are this important because of a number of different mechanisms.

The primary factor is that it works by metabolizing our dietary constituents. These bacteria can either activate or detoxify agents. In order to prevent infections we need a strong, well-functioning immune system. This means that both the composition and nature of our gut microflora can influence our immune system.

The connection with our health

The beneficial probiotic bacteria help our immunity and health in a number of different ways. The most important is that they detoxify harmful foreign substances that enter the body and make it easier to eliminate them again. We can prevent the growth of harmful bacteria by taking probiotics.

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published an article on Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO). This highlights the fact that science has made the connection between our overall health and gut bacteria for at least a decade.

The bacteria in our intestines help us digest the food that we take in. If someone suffers from SIBO, it means that the bad bacteria have overtaken the good bacteria. This means that there are too many bad bacteria and the system is not functioning as it should.

The basic concept behind this is that these bad bacteria can produce methane and hydrogen. This would explain why some people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) have issues with diarrhoea, constipation, and bloating.

How it works on our immune system

You may wonder why this matters to our overall immune system. The reason is that there is a high correlation with IBS, SIBO, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), This means that people who suffer from one condition may also suffer from the other.

Both the methane and hydrogen may cause IBS symptoms, but also activate the body’s immune system. This may cause the chronic pain that many have to deal with. A study from the American College of Rheumatology revealed that all of the people who were diagnosed with fibromyalgia suffered from SIBO (all 42 participants).

Lastly, if the bad bacteria overtake the good bacteria, chances are that our digestion is going to suffer as well. Without proper digestion, it becomes impossible for our bodies to absorb all the nutrients that we take in. As a result, we are running at a constant deficiency. This is going to influence our overall immune system in a negative manner as well.

Looking for a comprehensive solution

Keep in mind that most people who struggle with chronic pain or fatigue are looking for a solution. It is best to think ‘outside of the box’ and look at the patient as a whole rather than just a walking handful of symptoms. Rather than finding drugs that mask the issues, it is better to look at what is causing the issue altogether.

Getting to the root cause of a number of different issues may require a lot more ‘digging’ than we expect. Instead of masking the issues, it is important to take a more comprehensive approach and see what specific problems may persist and what can be done. Rather than mask the symptoms, it is important to identify the problem.

If you are wondering what improving your gut health could do or whether an infestation of bad bacteria could be the cause of some of your issues, call Total Back Care at 8357 8211 today to schedule an appointment. This is about taking an encompassing approach, meaning that a combination of exercise, diet, and treatment may help resolve the problem altogether rather than just treating the symptoms that bother you.