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The gut and our immune system

Since you are here; we assume that like us, you are lovers of good gut info and really want to explore what it’s all about. One thing commonly overlooked is that the majority – yes, we said majority – of our immune system lies within our gastrointestinal tract.

The gut and the immune system are inextricably linked; 60-70% of our immune system resides in our gut (aka colon and/or large intestine). The gut is often the first entry point for exposure to pathogens (bad bacteria and virus’ that can cause disease); therefore your immune system in the colon needs to be thriving and healthy in order to avoid illness.

The digestive system is a group of organs working together to convert our food into energy. Within the digestive system is the large intestine which comprises of cells, proteins, tissues and organs, which work together in a complex way to defend the body against harmful bacteria, infectious diseases and toxins. Together they’re called the “gut microbiome.” A healthy adult, on average, carries 1.5-2kg of bacteria in the gut.

The aim of the microbiome is to secrete lymphocyte cells which attack harmful invaders. These lymphatic cells also form bundles which work together to protect the mucous membranes of the small intestines from infection. They do this by releasing specific white blood cells known as T-cells and B-cells to defend the inside of the digestive tract from infection, as well as the damage that they cause to the intestinal walls.

A variety of illnesses can occur when these protective functions of the gut are compromised. Intestinal permeability causes the immune system to go into overdrive; mounting an unnecessary response against things like gluten, bad bacteria and undigested foods which have passed through these permeable holes in the gut lining.

Signs that your immune system is out of balance are: food and seasonal allergies, chronic inflammation, chronic sinusitis, colds and flus that linger for weeks, and constant recurring colds and flus. You may also notice a rise of food intolerances.

If left unhealed, this can lead to immune abnormalities and eventually autoimmune conditions and other health issues. Some of these include inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis, eczema, psoriasis, depression, migraine headaches, muscle pain and fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, type 1 diabetes, Graves’ disease, colitis, thyroiditis, multiple sclerosis, lupus, scleroderma, Crohn’s disease and Addison’s disease… to name more than just a few.

The best way to balance our immune system is by having a healthy and strong digestive system, and this means our gut bacteria needs to be in balance. Our western ways of eating and living hasn’t helped to keep our gut bacteria balanced. Not only have our diets failed us but so have many environmental factors.

In our next blog post we’ll outline what can DAMAGE and what can HEAL our gut microbiome.

This information is general only in nature and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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