Commentary: A healthy gut is a healthy immune system

Commentary: A healthy gut is a healthy immune system
October 05
11:30 2017

By Elisha Covington

A healthy gut is a healthy immune system

Greek physician Hippocrates said “All disease begins in the gut.” Our gut is our “second brain.” Science confirms this as fact.

The gastrointestinal tract plays an extremely huge role in our health and well-being. The gut helps the immune system fight disease. Seventy percent of our immune system is in our guts. Many do not know this and many medical professionals fail to take this important fact into consideration when treating and helping patients. The gastrointestinal (G.I.) tract has about 100 trillion bacteria and other microorganisms living inside. In fact, there are more bacterial cells in your gut than there are in your entire body.

For many, the term “bacteria” is often correlated with “disease.” However, some of the bacteria that live in your intestinal tract are very good for you. This means there are also harmful bacteria that live in your gut. But there are beneficial and healthy bacteria that also reside and the two compete with one another. It is vital to maintain a proper balance between the two for a healthy and strong immune system. The healthy bacteria (intestinal flora) keep disease-causing microorganisms and parasites like H.Pylori, giardia and salmonella from proliferating on the intestinal walls.

It is very important to note the “enemies” that destroy a healthy and balanced G.I. tract. Diet and stress take a toll and slowly disrupts a healthy environment. But also, antibiotics cause the most imbalance because it does not distinguish between the good and the bad, so it kills off the healthy bacteria in our bodies. This leaves the body vulnerable and usually sickness and disease reoccur.

Ever wonder why after taking a round of antibiotics, some people end up getting sick again soon after? A way to avoid the negative impact caused by the use of antibiotics is by taking a probiotic supplement, eating fermented foods like plain yogurt and kefir (without the added sugars), sauerkraut and kimchi during this time and after is beneficial. This way it gives the body more of a fighting chance and to encourage healthy bacteria from being destroyed and taken over.

Antacids can also be enemies. Antacids neutralize hydrochloric acid to temporarily stop heartburn but hydrochloric acid is beneficial because it not only aids in digesting foods in the stomach, it also destroys harmful bacteria. Overuse of antacids allows harmful bacteria to bypass the stomach into our digestive system. Other enemies of intestinal flora are laxatives, steroids, anti-inflammatory agents (NSAIDs), eating excessive amounts of carbohydrates and sugars, birth control pills and chlorinated water. Many of these culprits are overused by many and over suggested by many medical professionals.

One thing to always remember is that all sickness and disease begin in the gut. Our gut is our first line of defense. When it is supported and taken care of, we have a better chance at fighting sickness and disease and importantly, a way to avoid illness. When you change your lifestyle and diet that support wellness, your health always improves and your life can be transformed. Overcoming disease takes determination, vision, sacrifice and drive.

As always, talk with your health care provider for support and about possible alternative options of treatments that are less harmful to the body. When we heal the gut, we heal ourselves.

Elisha Covington is an avid reader and a mother of a vivacious 6 year old. She’s passionate about how and why people have unique relationships to food and wellness and how these relationships are impacted by their environments.

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