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Immune System Protection - Gut Health and Stress

This is our third and final installment summarizing Dr. Uche Odiatu’s article on how to fortify your body to support a healthier immune system. This article is about gut health and stress.  

Major Influencers of Gut Health

Fiber, Exercise and Probiotics are the positive influencers of good gut health according to Dr. Odiatu, while Unmanaged Stress is the negative influence. Since 75% of the cells that affect your immune system reside in your gut, you will want to look at all four areas to improve your gut health and immune system.

Let’s Start with Fiber

Good gut bacteria depends on fiber for its nutrition. Your gut bacteria feeds on fiber and makes short-chain fatty acids, which get absorbed into the bloodstream and lowers inflammation.

There are two kinds of fiber: soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber foods dissolve in water and help lower glucose and cholesterol levels. Oatmeal, nuts, beans, lentils, apples and blueberries are soluble fiber foods.  

Insoluble fiber foods do not dissolve in water but help move food through the digestive tract. Foods with insoluble fibers include wheat, whole wheat bread, whole grain couscous, brown rice, legumes, carrots, cucumbers and tomatoes.

Dr. Odiatu encourages you to eat 25-30 grams of fiber per day, which is more than the 15 grams per day the average American eats.

Exercise

Dr Odiatu says, “regular exercise makes your gut bacteria more diverse…This adds to the stability and potency and most of all...keeps pathogens in balance.” Interestingly, a University of Illinois study found that people who exercised regularly for six weeks were able to change their gut microbiome for the better. But the same study found when those same people reverted back to non-exercise their microbiome also reverted back.

The lasting impact of exercise on the gut has yet to be proved. But, there are so many benefits to regular exercise that we encourage you to just do it.

Probiotics

Dr. Odiatu encourages eating foods like cheese, yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, miso soup and vegetables because they have good bacteria called probiotics. He says regular consumption of probiotics supports optimal gut health and fortifies your immune system. Keep in mind, like exercise, the consumption of probiotics may be beneficial but transient. Studies show that after 48 hours of taking probiotics your microbiome reverts back.

Manage Your Stress

Dr Odiatu notes, “Chronic activation of your fight-flight nervous system overloads your immune system and increases the odds of coming down with a virus (cold, flu, etc). Yes there’s real science as to how you can ‘worry yourself’ sick.’”

Long-term stress takes its toll. It reduces fresh blood flow to your digestive tract and this ongoing restriction of blood flow reduces microbial diversity. Also high levels of cortisol and noradrenaline inhibit your body’s natural ability to fend off infections.

So, relax, meditate and take things in stride. Fear and anxiety are proven not to work. Try something that does.

We hope you enjoyed this three part summary of Dr. Uche Odiatu’s tips for improving your immune system. If you want to read the earlier posts here they are Post #1 and Post #2.  If you liked this series please drop us an email and tell us what other topics you might find of interest.

 

Sources:

Boost Your Immune System: Winterize Your Body by Dr Uche Odiatu, Article in TPD Magazine Summer 2018

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/improve-gut-bacteria

https://www.healthline.com/health-news/exercise-improves-your-gut-bacteria

http://time.com/4186162/fiber-gut-bacteria-microbiome/

https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/carbohydrates/fiber/