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The health of your gut and intestinal flora to be exact is directly connected to your immune system. In fact, 70% of our immunity comes from our intestinal tract!
How the digestive tract and immune system work together (ideally!): Through the various functions of the digestive tract, which runs from the mouth through the anus, harmful bacteria and pathogens are disarmed and rendered harmless to our bodies. Thank goodness! When people think of the immune system, they just think of antibodies. This is just one part of the system. Another really important part of the digestive system is the beneficial bacteria in our gut, or intestinal microflora. Healthy bacteria in the gut also form a barrier on the intestinal wall so that bacteria and germs cannot enter into the blood stream. So on one hand, our intestines are soo important for us to break down our food into manageable nutrients and on the other hand, we have to protect our bodies and internal organs from the toxins that may also enter our system! This is where beneficial bacteria comes in!
What happens if your digestion is compromised and how to start healing it: If your digestive tract has been damaged or compromised due to taking birth control pills, antibiotics, or leaving an autoimmune disorder untreated (as in having a gluten intolerance or Celiac disease and continuing to eat gluten, further harming your digestive tract), you may not be digesting foods properly, your body may not be absorbing nutrients and your immune system is going to be compromised. So – in terms of illness, think – is my digestive system healthy? Eating a plant-based diet high in fiber and nutrients is your ticket to healthy digestion and staying balanced nutritionally. Animal proteins are naturally acid producing once in contact with the body so you’ll need more alkalizing and fermented foods to help you stay in balance.
We need to keep lots of fresh, live enzymes and bacteria in the digestive tract to stay in balance nutritionally and therefore, immunologically.
Auto-Intoxication: The Russian scientist Elie Metchnikoff, was appointed by Louis Pasteur to run the Pasteur Institute in France. Elie coined the term “auto-intoxication” to refer to the poisoning of the organs as a result of toxins building up in the digestive tracts as a result of not having enough beneficial bacteria in the gut. When we’re young, we can eat all kinds of toxic garbage (I ate my share of Sour Patch kids and Doritos to be clear) and it won’t affect us right away. But later on, the body’s ability to process and assimilate vitamins and minerals is reduced.
Some questions to help you determine if you have healthy digestion:
- Do I have any sensitivities or allergies to foods?
- Do I have a normal (not too soft, not too hard) bowel movement around the same time every day?
- Am I regularly sick?
- Do I eat animal products and if so, do I consume a lot of raw and fermented vegetables.
Some things you can do to heal your gut and strengthen your immune system:
- Go on a supervised elimination diet with a health coach or dietician to see if you have any unknown allergies
- Supplement with a probiotic
- Eat raw, organic cultured vegetables
- Make your own raw, cultured vegetables at home (see below).
- If you have an autoimmune disorder like Celiac disease stop eating gluten!!! You are only harming your system more but giving it the things you are genetically programmed to struggle with. This can be a huge lifestyle change so seek the support you need to better your health and prevent lots of problems later on.
In my weekly newsletter, I shared a couple recipes for fermented vegetables that will help you heal your gut and strengthen your immune system so you can feel awesome YESTERDAY. Get in on all the action by subscribing to my newsletter here.
Jenna Pacelli is the health and wellness expert for the global yoga community. She helps yogis and busy professionals lose weight without deprivation, have more energy, curb sugar cravings and heal their relationship with food.