Here’s the second topic of our article series, Food as Medicine. Today, I’m focusing on the key role your intestines play in regulating and boosting the productiveness of your immune system.
Did you know that your intestines are at the center of your health ? Everyone has three parts in their intestines that have unexpected roles and characteristics:
Gut bacteria: 100 trillion bacteria are always living in your intestines, which is 10 times the number of cells you have in your body. These bacteria are the key to good health:
Intestinal mucosa: It covers over 300m² of your intestines.
The immune system: Over 70% of your immune system is directly related to the intestinal ecosystem. In particular, immune cells get their ability to regulate the complex balance between protecting against pathogens and tolerating bodily protein or certain types of dietary protein from your intestines. Gut bacteria are especially important because they produce “immune messengers” called cytokines, which promote either defenses or immune tolerance.
On a side note, it’s also worth noting that nerve cells produce 95% of your body’s serotonin. In fact, your enteric nervous system contains 200 million neurons! Your gut is also called your “second brain” because of how this organ is closely related to your behavior via the vagus nerve. Just look at how stress affects your digestion to realize how these two organs are interrelated.
When your intestinal ecosystem is disturbed in any way, this can have unexpected consequences that go well beyond digestive discomfort. Many factors can be responsible for this: antibiotics or anti-inflammatory drugs, stress, intense physical activity, insufficient chewing or eating too many carbohydrates or protein. When your intestinal ecosystem (and the intestinal mucosa, in particular) is irritated, this can cause increased intestinal permeability. To put it simply, it turns into a colander! What happens next depends on the nature of your gut bacteria and genetic predisposition as an individual: for instance, your body may have a reaction to certain peptides or dietary protein, especially in cow’s milk and gluten.
This may cause:
Restore the balance in your gut bacteria by taking a high-quality probiotic supplement. The critical factors to help you choose one are the type of bacterial strains, how many of them it contains, how you take it and what the manufacturer has done to ensure that the product will be effective throughout its shelf life and aid in digestion. You may also need to take additional micronutrients that are essential for the cells in your intestines, such as glutamine, turmeric and antioxidants.
Depending on your functional disorders and/or existing conditions, consume less protein from cow’s milk or even stop consuming it from time to time and consume products that use plant milk, goat’s milk or sheep’s milk instead. In more serious cases, you may need to eliminate gluten from your diet, but you should first talk to a medical professional specializing in micronutrition, who will be able to tell you how long and to what extent you should avoid gluten.
Now that you know that your intestines are like your “second brain” and that if you strengthen it, you’ll boost your immune system, you’ve got everything you need to effectively detox your body. Stay tuned!