To fully understand your health, one of the essential places to get to know and understand is your gut and what is happening inside it. The phrase gut feeling is thrown about when we talk about our intuition and emotions but this saying could be truer than we imagine. Because all of the systems within your body work closely together to maintain optimal health, when one system is unbalanced it can trigger a domino effect; causing problems in other areas of your body and creating a cascade of chronic health complications.
This is particularly true of the gut and its impact on immune health. Your gut health and immune system are inextricably linked. Did you know that approximately seventy to eighty percent of your immune tissue is located within your digestive system? The gut is often the first entry point for exposure to pathogens (bad bacteria and virus’ that can cause disease); therefore your gut immune system needs to be thriving and healthy in order to avoid illness.
The digestive system 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. In fact the gut mucosa connects with the largest population of immune cells in the body. These are also known as gastrointestinal immune cells; which come from the lymphoid branch of the immune system. Their aim is to secrete lymphocyte cells which attack harmful invaders. These lymphatic cells also form bundles known as ‘Peyer’s Patches’ 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.
Aside from containing specialized immune cells, the particular strains of friendly gut flora that reside within your intestines are also critical for overall immunity. These guys act as mighty warriors for the immune system, and are dependable allies for immune cells; helping them to enhance their “natural killer” effectiveness and boosting their overall defence of the intestinal walls to prevent pathogens and infections being absorbed. This is one critical reason why maintaining a healthy balance of good bacteria in the gut is so important. Without them, your immune system cannot do its job effectively, and in essence it is defenceless.
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. One of the first indications of leaky gut is the 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 a few.
It’s only in recent years that scientists are beginning to discover the vital importance of the link between diet, gut bacteria and the immune system. Scientific evidence now shows that the types of food that you eat will directly determine the levels of certain bacteria in your gut.
Changing your diet will change the kind of bacteria that you have; which will either support the strengthening of your immune system, or deplete its defensive capabilities. Conclusions drawn from the current research all reveal that a healthy immune system is the result of a diet that supports healthy gut function: one that emphasises whole, unprocessed foods and one that helps to repopulate the gut with good bacteria.
Super Green Soup (Recipe)
Here is a delicious Super Green Soup recipe from my new eBook 'Heal Your Gut' which is a four week gut healing protocol and the culmination of my personal quest for healing from an auto-immune disease. It features over 50 gut loving recipes and we have five to giveaway!
- 1 tbsp EV Olive Oil
- 1 onion chopped
- 1 leek chopped
- 3 garlic cloves
- 2 sticks celery sliced
- 2 broccoli bunches chopped
- 1 bunch kale chopped
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 1 can coconut milk (no additives)
- Pinch Celtic sea salt
- freshly ground pepper to taste
- 2 tbsp Lemon and nutritional yeast flakes to serve
Heat olive oil in a heavy based pan and brown onions, leek and garlic and add celery. Add broccoli and kale and stir fry for 5 mins. Pour in stock and coconut milk. Bring to boil and then simmer for 15-20 mins. Transfer to blender and blend until smooth. Return to pan to heat. Season to taste. Stir in 2 tbsp lemon and sprinkle on nutritional yeast flakes to serve.
FREE EBOOK GIVEAWAY!
In celebration of Lee releasing her new eBook, 'Heal Your Gut', we have 5 to giveaway! Leave your story in the comments below and 5 lucky winners will be chosen and contacted with their eBook by Monday July 28th!
Lee Holmes is a Certified Holistic Health Coach (Institute of Integrative Nutrition), Hatha Yoga Teacher and Whole Foods Chef. She is also the author of three best-selling books Supercharged Food, Eat Yourself Beautiful, and Supercharged Food for Kids Lee’s website www.superchargedfood.com encourages S.O.L.E food; sustainable, organic, local and ethical. It features delicious anti-inflammatory recipes, information, news, reviews and menu planning ideas to make it easy for people to enjoy a satisfying, wholesome and nourishing diet. She created a petition to improve food in hospitals in Australia and as a result a healthier menu has been introduced by the Minister for Health. In addition to passionately creating change at government and policy level, in 2013 Lee won the title of Health Influencer Blog of the Year. Lee’s favourite anti-inflammatory recipe is Smashed Sardines and Avocado on Chia and Flaxseed Loaf. You can read more about her recipe books here.