The benefits of good gut health go far beyond digestion. There is an essential link between your gut health and immune system. This is why when it comes to immunity, consumers are looking beyond antioxidant mainstays like vitamin C and turning to gut health supplements instead.
How much of the immune system is in your gut?
Did you know that over 70 percent of our body's immune system resides in the gut, and having the right balance of good bacteria versus bad is essential for our immune health (1)? Believe it or not, there are more bacterial cells than human cells in the body! The bacteria housed in our bodies is somewhere in the trillions.
How does the gut microbiome affect the immune system?
The roughly 100 trillion live microorganisms live within the gut and protect the body from infection, promote normal GI function, and regulate metabolism and the mucosal immune system (2). Our gut microbiome refers to the bacteria that live in our intestines. While in gut bacteria can lead to complaints regarding our digestive health, the bacteria in our gut are responsible for many other things—including regulating our immune system.
When food is broken down when we eat, our gut absorbs the nutrients we need. Healthy bacteria are responsible for stimulating the development of cells that distinguish any harmful agents in our body from our body's cells. When there is an imbalance between the good and bad bacteria, our immune system is more vulnerable to becoming confused and attacking our cells. When our immune system is busy fighting healthy cells, it is easier for us to get sick and harder to recover. Research on the gut microbiome has found just how crucial a healthy gut is for a healthy immune system (3). We see more and more that diseases begin in the gut, and making sure that we nourish and support our gut health is a vital part of caring for our immune health.
So, why is gut health essential for a healthy immune system?
Our gut and our immune system interact a lot as the immune system continually responds to what is entering our body to keep us healthy. With a hectic lifestyle, differing diet, and various stressors that come up every day, our immune system is susceptible to misinterpreting whether or not it's the right time to respond and start attacking cells. Inflammation is one of the side effects we experience when our immune system corresponds to 'perceived threats,' which may be foods we are sensitive to (4).
We can also get sick when the "bad" bacteria in our gut are outnumbering the "good" bacteria because these harmful bacteria tend to rob the body of nutrients by consuming what our body would have absorbed. Other side-effects of too much harmful bacteria include bloating, issues with digestion, and abdominal pain. When the gut and immune system is not in sync, many negative consequences can follow. However, when our digestive system is functioning optimally, it is a barrier to harmful bacteria and keeps pathogens and viruses away, keeping our immune system in check. Because of how important a healthy gut is for a healthy immune system, so many people are turning to probiotics and prebiotics as a way to effectively improve gut health and strengthen overall health (3). Inner Life! is dedicated to making it easy to get your daily prebiotics and keeping your gut thriving!
How can I strengthen my gut immune system?
While we cannot actually "strengthen the gut" per se, the best way to ensure that our gut is balanced and healthy is by eating a diet that is rich in probiotics and prebiotics. Probiotics increase the count of "good" bacteria in your gut, and prebiotics are food for the probiotics to keep them at a high count. When we add probiotics and prebiotics to our diet, they are proven to increase "good" bacteria in the gut. Healthy pathways in the body are maintained and established, keeping the gut functioning optimally. As research has continued to look at the connection between immunity and gut health, we know that the more "good" bacteria in your gut, the more robust immune defense you have, warding off any opportunistic pathogens (5).
So, to keep your gut and immune system healthy and happy, load up on the good bacteria! Probiotics are found in many foods, including yogurt, kefir, various fermented foods such as kimchi, miso, and more. We've also talked about how prebiotics are found in foods rich in fiber—whole grains, nuts, beans, veggies, and lentils. Ensuring your diet is full of probiotics and prebiotics helps increase antibody production and inhibit the growth of undesirable microorganisms while also increasing immune cell activity (6).
Prebiotics for Immune Health
Taking prebiotics is one easy, effective, and efficient way to ensure that the good bacteria in our gut are being fueled. This can help inhibit the growth of pathogenic bacteria. Most importantly, research has shown that taking probiotics can help keep from any imbalances that would disrupt our immune system's normal functioning (7). Nourishing the gut with prebiotics helps support our immune system and keeps from digestive issues that could lead to immune dysfunction.
One easy way to ensure you are getting the prebiotics you need to keep your gut and immune system healthy is by using Inner Life! 's prebiotic drink mix. Inner Life! is conveniently packaged in single-serve sticks. Each serving of Inner Life! 's prebiotic drink mix provides 3.8g of the clinically-proven prebiotic fiber, Arabinoxylan, ensuring that you get your daily dose for optimal gut health. Inner Life! is made with only the best ingredients, meaning no artificial sweeteners, colors, preservatives, or gluten. Additionally, Inner Life! is gentle on the stomach and will not cause the bloating or belly discomfort associated with other prebiotic fibers. Just add it to water and enjoy!