70% of our immune system is located within a cellophane-like layer of gut-lining. That’s why maintaining good gut health is so profoundly important in order to stay healthy. Herbicides such as glyphosate (present in Roundup), pesticides and other chemicals used in modern agriculture work their way not only into the food chain but into the soil, groundwater, rivers, oceans, air and finally rainfall. Being present both in our food and in the environment, these toxins destroy our gut lining. And with that our immune system.
As Zach Bush, MD has beautifully summarized it, gut health is defined by three elements:
1.Microbiome. It is the genetic material of trillions of microorganisms including bacteria, fungi, parasites and viruses that live on and inside the human body – mainly the large intestine. If the balance between helpful and potentially harmful microbes that normally co-exist in the microbiome is disturbed, body becomes more susceptible to disease. As we get exposed to toxins or over-use certain medications, this fundamental source of wellbeing starts to degrade.
2. Gut lining– a barrier that controls what should get absorbed into the bloodstream to be transported to your organs. It is an extensive intestinal lining covering an area as large as two tennis fields. Poor diet and certain environmental exposures degrades this delicate half a human hair thick membrane. In the end it starts “leaking” undigested food, bacteria and other toxins through intestinal wall into the bloodstream instead of keeping them out. This triggers response from the immune system, which if overwhelmed may cause chronic inflammation. Leaky gut, or increased intestinal permeability, is associated with irritable bowel syndrome, fatigue, food sensitivities, celiac disease, migraines, Crohn’s disease, skin problems, etc.
3. Immune system is spread out throughout the body with around 70% of it located in the gut lining. Crucially, immune system’s roll is also to distinguish your body’s own tissue from the foreign one. The latter is cleared away together with dead or faulty cells. When the immune system gets compromised (see above) it starts attacking body’s own cells (“self”), which gives rise to autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes, lupus, multiple sclerosis etc
Coronavirus has brought to the surface something that’s been obvious for a while: we need to heal and find new ways to thrive rather than hope that everything goes #backtonormal asap. Our well-being is a direct reflection of how our planet is doing. We have made ourselves sick by poisoning our environment and as a result we eat toxic food that destroys our gut and thereby our immune system making us more susceptible to catching viruses and bacteria.
Non-toxic steps you can take to boost your immune system:
- Eat a diversified nutrient-dense diet. More plant-based wholefoods, less (or preferably none) processed foods
- Avoid inflammatory foods that promote changes in the gut flora: alcohol, sugar, processed foods, and any foods that may cause allergies or sensitivities
- Eat organic. Certified organic food is by definition free from GMOs, pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, growth hormones, antibiotics, sewage sludge and irradiation.
- Eat fiber-reach foods. Good gut bacteria feasts on fiber!
- Choose prebiotics over probiotics. A typical probiotic supplement contains less than ten bacterial species while your gut should host thousands of them. Eating prebiotics such as fermented foods (e.g. sauerkraut, kimchi, kambucha) helps to repopulate your microbiome
- If possible, limit your use of drugs, especially ibuprofen, aspirin, antibiotics.
- Reduce stress in your life. Meditate!
- Stay outdoors and #breathyourbiome. This is clearly challenging now with social distancing in place but if you have the opportunity to spend some time in nature – do it!
Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor, and the above is by no means a medical advice. I’m just a messenger on a mission to make you feel better. This is simply my invitation to educate ourselves – message/comment for more sources if you are interested!