Your gut is home to over 100 trillion bacteria, known as the gut flora. For every human cell there are 10 bacteria cells, you are more bacteria than human!
Most of the bacteria lives inside the large intestine. The health of this organism is paramount to the health of your body due to 70% of your immune system residing in your gut. Thus, the health of your gut bacteria and the health of your immune system are vitally linked. When your gut bacteria are balanced, your immune system is also balanced. Likewise, when it’s out of balance, so is your immune system.
Some tell-tale signs that your immune system is out of balance are: food and seasonal allergies, chronic inflammation, chronic sinusitis, and colds and flues that linger for weeks as well as food sensitivities. Food, specifically undigested protein, looks just like a virus or bacteria and our immune system creates an antibody to it. We see this in life-threatening reactions like anaphylactic shock to nuts or shellfish. We can also have a much quieter, non-life-threatening reaction to a food (undigested protein), which can over-stimulate our immune system and lead to seasonal allergies, eczema, and many inflammatory conditions. These are usually referred to as food sensitivities.
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. The modern way of eating hasn’t helped to keep our gut bacteria balanced. Most traditional cultures regularly consume fermented foods like natural yogurt, sauerkraut, and kimchi, which feed the beneficial bacteria in our gut. However, in modern times, we tend to do the opposite. Processed food, refined sugar, chlorine, and antibiotics are major causes of a gut bacteria imbalance.
When your gut is hosting more beneficial bacteria, your body is able to create balance. But when the prevalent bacteria in your gut is “bad” bacteria, they allow for an overgrowth of yeast, moulds, and fungus – as well as many digestive symptoms, like bloating, foul-smelling gas, distention, pain, constipation, diarrhoea, and a “leaky gut.”
How to Keep Your Gut Bacteria Balanced:
- Eat a diverse range of foods – whole foods such as fruit and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, these are known as prebiotics, they feed good bacteria
- Eat naturally fermented foods daily – such as yoghurt, kimchi, kefir, kombucha, tempeh
- Regularly exercise
- Make time for quality sleep
- Reducing alcohol consumption as it has a harmful effect on gut bacteria
- Give up smoking
- Reduce and manage stress
- Understand the causes of your digestive symptoms, and re-balance them. All digestive symptoms are signs that food isn’t being properly broken down and can feed the “bad” bacteria.
Keep your digestive system and immune system working optimally by keeping your gut bacteria healthy and happy!