Gut Health: The Foundation for Immunity
Over recent years the gut and the microbiome have been a prominent area of research and discovery, but the importance of gut health is nothing new. Hippocrates stated many hundreds of years ago that “all disease begins in the gut”. The gut is the foundation for so many different systems in the body, and it’s thought that a healthy gut is critical to overall health. If the gut is out of balance then this can be reflected in skin health, mental health, immunity and more. Many diseases that are seemingly unrelated are strongly linked to gut issues.
Our gut houses around 70% of our immune cells, so is a critical area to focus on when trying to support any area of health, but especially immunity, and bolstering our immune defences. To prevent infection we require a well-functioning and strong immune system and the gut microflora play a key role in this. There are around 38 trillion microbes in our gut microbiome-at least as many cells as we have in our whole body-and we have developed a symbiotic relationship with these microbes. Our immune system has co-evolved with our gut flora, not only to defend against pathogens, but to develop a tolerance of these beneficial microbes. This communication and symbiosis is maintained throughout life and is key for a healthy interaction between the microbiome and immune system.
The gut microbiome is key for regulating immunity. In normal conditions, the immune system promotes the growth of beneficial microbes and helps to maintain this stable microbiome, while it produces molecular signals that support immune cell development and responses. Gut health will impact how the immune system will respond to foreign microbes entering the body, and the immune system is better at fighting infections if the colony of gut microbes is diverse and healthy.
The gut lining is the main interface between the gut microbiome and body. This is one of our first line defences against illness and disease. Epithelial cells are vital for eliciting a response to pathogens, destroying infected cells and balancing the gut microbiome. They also respond to metabolites produced by the microbiome like short chain fatty acids (SCFA) which are an energy source for the epithelial cells, and help to support the integrity of the gut lining. Fermented foods are particularly rich in SCFA’s which promote the activity of regulatory T cells, and help us maintain immune tolerance.
The integrity of the gut lining is critical for a healthy relationship with the gut microbiome. If the intestinal barrier becomes dysfunctional, the tight junctions between epithelial cells that are critical for the gut barrier can become loose or leaky, allowing things through that we don’t want to, which can lead to a chronic inflammatory cascade and lowered immunity.
Modern day lifestyle, including changes to our environment, toxins, diet and stress take a toll on the body, leading to chronic inflammation, and an imbalance of gut flora and the gut environment. These issues lead to communication and signalling break down in the body which causes more inflammation, and chronic health conditions. It’s never been more important to support our microbiome than in our modern world.
Fermented foods are rich in enzymes and probiotics required for healthy gut function. Having a balanced gut flora helps to keep pathogenic bacteria in check, supports digestive function and overall health. All our supplements utilise a unique kefir-kombucha fermentation which means they are rich in beneficial microorganisms, nutrients and enzymes to support digestion, and are easier to digest and absorb due to their fermented nature. Our Your Flora range for digestive support contain a fermented soy base which provides the structural proteins to build healthy tissue like L-glutamine, L-proline and L-glycine, energy sources for tissues like the short chain fatty acids L-butyrate, and L-propionate. These compounds help to support the gut environment, reinforce the digestive lining and reduce inflammation. Fermented foods also provide neurotransmitters, a rich and diverse array of microbes, enzymes and communicating compounds which are key for digestive, immune and overall health.