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Balance Your Microbiome and Improve Immunity

How to Use the Best of Nature to Balance Your Microbiome and Improve Immunity

Your body is made up of more bacteria than cells, some of them opportunistic that will turn into disease if we do not have a strong enough immune system or enough “good” bacteria to fight them off.

Approximately 80 percent of our immune system is found in the gut, meaning we need to focus on strengthening this area (also known as our microbiome). Thankfully, there are many ways nature can help us achieve this.

Microbiome and Immunity

The human microbiome is responsible for shaping your intestinal immune response during health and disease, which is why it is important to find natural ways to restore its strength.

Your gastrointestinal tract is the location in which microorganisms interact with the host immune system. From here, these microorganisms can either turn friendly or deadly depending on the health of your microbiome.

The microbiome is needed for a number of important functions, such as metabolising indigestible compounds and essential nutrients, defending against opportunistic pathogens and contributing to the development of the intestinal structure.

Opportunistic pathogens, or “bad” microorganisms, elicit immune system reactions that cause tissue damage during infection, which leads to disease. The microbiome is needed to exert anti-inflammatory responses against these opportunistic pathogens to reduce the risk of chronic disease.

At the same time, the microbiome enhances the symbiotic bacterial species that are beneficial for the gut.

Autoimmunity occurs when there is a lack of balance within the microbiome and it can no longer tell the difference between opportunistic microorganisms and beneficial ones. This causes the immune system to attack itself, leading to inflammation and tissue damage.

This is the case in the autoimmune conditions Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, which occur when there is a shift in the regulated immune responses in the gut by too many pro-inflammatory cytokines, or bad pathogens.

According to a 2015 study, there is a growing body of evidence indicating the functional and structural capacity of the microbiome in the healthy state and in diseased states. The study indicated that a human’s microbiome is quite stable over time but diet and other environmental factors influence its composition. When compared to healthy controls, alterations in the microbiome were associated with a number of disease states.

Data shows that the microbiome plays an important role in the determination of cardiovascular disease, irritable bowel disease and Clostridium difficile infection.

How to Achieve Natural Immunity and Restore Your Microbiome

A balanced microbiome means that the immune system is able to properly respond to stimuli by either enhancing their good benefits or fighting the bad ones.

There are plenty of ways to naturally build your immune system and restore your microbiome. Doing so naturally is as easy as making good diet and lifestyle choices and, where necessary, adding the right supplements to your regime.

Here are a few simple tips to follow.

  1. Diet

The foods you eat play a key role in the determination of you microbiome. Research has shown that a person’s microbiome is dependent on their diet. That’s because your gut determines how well your body absorbs nutrients and stores fat.

One study showed that when lean mice received a transplant of gut microbiome from obese mice, they quickly gained more body weight even though they ate the same amount of food. This is because your gut influences your food intake, hormone production, nutrient extraction and fat storage.

Foods that may help restore your microbiome include fresh vegetables, whole pieces of fruit, herbs, teas and spices, probiotics, healthy fats, wild-caught fish, pasteurised and cage-free eggs, grass-fed meat and unprocessed ancient grains. Red wine and dark chocolate can be enjoyed in moderation.

Foods that increase inflammation include:

  • Trans fat such as soybean, canola and corn oils
  • Refined carbohydrates and highly processed grains
  • Pasteurised dairy products
  • Added refined sugars
  • Hydrogenated fats (fried foods)
  1. Reduce Stress and Exercise

Stress triggers an inflammatory response in the immune system by creating inflammatory compounds known as cytokines, which are responsible for damaging healthy cells. But exercise is a natural stress reliever that reduces inflammation by balancing hormones and strengthening the immune system. Start by slowly adding exercise to your daily regimen a few times a week and gradually increase from there.

  1. Add Good Quality Supplements to Your Diet

Certain supplements – such as omega-3 fish oil, carotenoids, Co-enzyme Q10, antioxidants, selenium, probiotics and vitamins C, D and E – may help naturally balance your microbiome.

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