How to boost immunity by improving gut health
We all know that eating nutritious food can help boost our immunity. That is why we are told to add green leafy vegetables for fibre and vitamins, fruits like berries with antioxidant properties and of course nuts, seeds and herbs. While it is important to get the right nutrients, it is also necessary to pay attention to your gut health to improve your immunity.
Why your gut microbiota is important
Research indicates that your immunity is closely linked to the gut microbiota or the organisms that live in your gut. The gut flora not only helps in absorbing nutrients but also boosting your immune response.
According to Neha Ranglani, Nutritionist, “80% of our immune cells are made in the gut. What we eat is absorbed and assimilated in the gut which also nourishes our immune cells.”
That is why you need a diet rich in prebiotics and probiotics to help maintain a healthy balance of gut flora. Probiotic foods help introduce different bacteria to your gastrointestinal tract. The micro organisms living in your gut are needed to fight off pathogens and prevent auto-immune conditions.
To maintain overall health, it is important to have a healthy gut. Any shift or changes in this composition of your gut flora can impact your immunity and health.
What to eat to maintain a healthy gut
You need to eat both prebiotic and probiotic foods to maintain your gut microbiota. Prebiotic foods include dietary fibre that feeds the microorganisms living in your gut. Some easily available prebiotic foods include legumes, beans, peas, garlic, onions, unripe bananas, wheat bran and oats.
Probiotic foods include yoghurt, kimchi, kombucha and kefir. Some fermented Indian foods like idli and dhokla (not fried) are also good for your gut health.
Neha Ranglani recommends that you eat anti-inflammatory and natural wholesome foods like fruits, nuts, seeds, vegetables, greens and include herbs like tulsi, saunf, jeera, ajwain and aloe vera.
In addition to nutritious meals, you need to drink water and have enough dietary fibre.
What to avoid to prevent gut issues
Here are some unhealthy habits that you need to ditch to help maintain a balance of healthy microbes in your gut:
- Eating immediately before sleeping
- Taking antibiotics unnecessarily
- Processed food
- Sugary beverages like colas
- Junk food
- Sauces and ketchups
Important tips to check your gut health
Check your poop
Most people poop once or twice a day. It is healthy to have a bowel movement around the same time every day. The consistency of the stool is important. A soft to firm sausage like poop is considered healthy. Changes in stool shape and consistency often indicates a problem like less water or fibre.
Have the right probiotics
Constipation, diarrhea, bloating and indigestion are signs of poor gut health. But, not all probiotic supplements are the same. Based on your needs the type of probiotic you need may vary. That is why it is important to check with a doctor before taking any supplements.
Also, if you are prescribed antibiotics which kill both the good and bad bacteria in your body, your doctor may prescribe a probiotic supplement, which you need to take without fail.
Role of the normal gut microbiota – www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4528021/
The Gut: Where Bacteria and Immune System Meet – www.hopkinsmedicine.org/research/advancements-in-research/fundamentals/in-depth/the-gut-where-bacteria-and-immune-system-meet
The role of gut microbiota in immune homeostasis and autoimmunity – www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3337124/ Can gut bacteria improve your health? www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/can-gut-bacteria-improve-your-health