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WHY YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM AND YOUR GUT NEED TO GET ALONG
by Dara Winters
"All disease starts in the gut" - Hippocrates
Here’s a fun fact of the day: we have 100 trillion bacteria in our body. But before you stress, don’t worry they are supposed to be there and are a good thing. They make up your intestinal microbiome. Another fun fact: Our gut contains two thirds of our immune system, so it's pretty important if you ask us. Our gut is also regarded as our second brain because it’s home to the most neurons (brain cells) outside of the central nervous system. It’s also hugely important for the body’s deep-seated sense of happiness and contentment. This is because the body makes most of its serotonin, the ‘happiness’ neurotransmitter, here.
The bacteria living in your gut are essential to your health; they assist with processes such as digestion, the absorption and assimilation of nutrients, and immune system function. But there’s also both ‘good bacteria’ and ‘bad bacteria’ in your body, and it’s crucial to achieve a balance between the two.
So, ensuring a healthy intake of ‘good bacteria’ has become an especially relevant priority in modern Western societies, where many people’s diets have become heavy on processed foods and lacks fibre. We need to feed these good bacteria in our gut for all aspects of our physical and mental wellbeing. If they don’t get fed with gentle plant-based fibre, they can’t do their jobs as effectively. And no we don’t mean corn flakes or weetabix because these cereals are high in sugar and can often cause bloating in the gut which is a sign that our immune response has been triggered. This is because sugar feeds the ‘bad bacteria” rather than your “good bacteria” resulting in an imbalanced gut flora which is called dysbiosis. So incorporating foods which will help feed our microflora, or our bacteria garden, which should help bolster our immunity and happiness. Examples of gut friendly foods are fermented foods, plant-based fibre, yoghurt, nuts and seeds, oily fish and pulses. Studies down the years have pointed to a variety of potential health benefits from probiotic-rich foods, including better digestive health, mental health and heart health, as well as – of course – enhanced support for your immune system.
In one of our recent podcast episodes, Laura Martin, an IBS-anxiety coach uses something called the F.R.E.E method with her clients when dealing with issues such as food sensitivities, anxiety and autoimmunities.
F- The F stands for foundations which figures out what your day to day routine is, how it makes you feel and breaks it down into the details.
R- the R stands for reprogram. The great thing about the brain is that it has neuroplasticity so anything that we think we are stuck with is repairable!
E- This stands for explore. Explore as in going around and trying different foods to see what works for you.
E- The final E stands for evolve. After exploring and trying out to see what works for you, it’;s time to evolve your lifestyle and tailor it so it makes you feel like your best self and optimises your health.
You can listen to the full episode on “The Power Is Within Us” podcast on Spotify, Google podcasts and Apple podcasts.
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