Gut health, the foundation for an optimized immune system (part 4 of the Becoming Anti-Fragile series)

April 18, 2020 | By R.Gamiz

We started this series talking about complex systems. Let’s use an orchestra as an example. A modern orchestra has 4 main parts: strings, woodwinds, brass and percussion. In our bodies, these can be considered as some of our independent systems like our gastrointestinal, neurological, cardiovascular and immune systems just to name a few.  Now back to the orchestra, this large group of musicians is led by a conductor who stands in front of the ensemble and directs the musicians. In our bodies that conductor is our autonomic nervous system (ANS).  If this conductor is not prepared to manage this large complex orchestra we can not expect to get beautiful music from this orchestra. In part one of this series, I wrote about some ways to enhance our ANS. Our ANS is the conductor of all of our systems and in charge of getting them to work in coherence to create  an  anti-fragile state, so we can live healthy, happy and thriving lives. 

Now picture that conductor receiving signals back for his orchestra that something is not right with one of the sections (dis-ease) or feedback from the audience (environment) that things are changing. The conductor must be adaptable and agile to respond in real-time. This is where our gastrointestinal system comes in as the one main source of information  back to the conductor, ANS. The role of our digestive system cannot be underestimated when it comes to our well being and the health of our immune system. 

Our gut  is a major channel between our external environment and our internal systems. So much so, that around 70% of our immune system in the form of gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT) and 80% of plasma cells mainly immunoglobulin A (IgA) is housed in our gut. It is the main contact point between our internal and external environment and is bombarded daily with external stimuli, sometimes dangerous pathogens such as bacteria, protozoa, fungi, viruses or toxic substances. 

So what can you do right now to ensure you have a healthy gut and improve any underlying dis-ease that may inhibit a proper immune response?  First let’s start with a list of signs that you may have if your gut is not in good health. 

  • Frequent bloating
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive gas
  • High sugar diet
  • Food intolerances

The following recommendations are good for most, but if you are experiencing some of the symptoms listed above you should seek care from a GI specialist. 

Steps to improving your gut health:

  • Stay Hydrated
    • 8 ounces of water 8 times per day. 8 X 8
  • Reduce sugar intake
  • Eat fermented foods
    • Kombucha
    • Kefir
    • Kimchi
    • Sauerkraut
    • Fermented vegetables
  • Increase fiber intake  
    • Air popped popcorn
    • Oats
    • Avocado
    • Spilt peas 
    • Chickpeas
    • Psyllium husk
    • Almonds
  • Take a Probiotic
  • Do not eat 3 hours before going to bed
  • Avoid unnecessary antibiotics
  • Exercise regularly

In summary, in order to become anti-fragile and live the life we want  happy, healthy and thriving maintaining a healthy gut contributes to better overall health and immune function.

Making appropriate lifestyle and dietary changes, can help us live the life we want; happy, healthy and thriving. However, a person should talk to their doctor before making any drastic changes to their diet, especially those diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome or other medical conditions, probiotics and fiber-rich or vegetarian diets may not be helpful.

If you found this article helpful please leave a comment below. If you have questions on which probiotics I think are most useful, put your questions in the comment box or sign up for my email list. 

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