Did you know that the vast majority (roughly 80%) of your immune system comes from your guts?
It’s true! And your immune system not only protects you from foreign invaders like viruses and bacteria but also works around the clock to fight off cells that could become cancerous. In fact, there is an up and coming profession focusing solely on cancer immunosurveillance!
Because of this, it is impossible to address the health of an individual without discussion on how well the guts are functioning, yet in today’s quick fix world, where we believe the cover-up of symptoms and the management of risk factors is an acceptable form of health care, few providers take the time to ask patients about digestion and bowel movements.
By the way, if your bowels move once a week, that is an excellent indicator your immune system is not up to snuff.
Gastrointestinal Tract (GI Tract)
Your GI tract starts at your mouth, goes through your esophagus, into the stomach, down to the small intestines, into the large intestines, down to the rectum and out through the anus. Thusly, it is vitally important that the right kind of foods are being passed through here!
The Gut Flora
Your body is a haven for bacteria and you need these little fellas to thrive! Bacteria actually outnumber the amount of cells in your body, and most of them live in your guts. This collectively is known as your gut flora.
These guys have a vital role to play in keeping you healthy. They not only help you break down the food you eat, but they act as the Marine Corp of the immune system. First to fight so to speak when we ingest something we probably shouldn’t have.
Keeping these guys alive and well is a tall task with our modernized diets.
Low level antibiotics
Anti- means against. Bio- means life. Against life…
When we consume dairy products from cows that were treated with antibiotics, we hurt our gut flora. The same is true for any meat that is consumed from animals that were given antibiotics. We can even find antibiotics in our fruits and vegetables due to the manure used to fertilize the growing plants. It is also found in trace amounts in the water we drink. You must make a conscious effort to avoid this! Your purchases have power. The more people demanding raw dairy, grass fed beef, and animal products produced without antibiotics, the more companies will have to change their practices.
Pro- means for. Bio- life. For life…
When we take probiotics we are reinforcing the troops needed to defend our body from invaders. We are pumping up the surveillance needed to patrol cancerous cells. We are boosting our own ability to digest food and create the necessary compounds for production and use of energy!
So there are a few actionable steps you can take to help restore order in your guts and improve energy levels and the overall functioning of your immune system:
- Limit the amount of low level antibiotics you consume. As a side note, low levels and/or antibiotics that are not taken properly (ie. not finishing the prescription) is setting yourself up for the creation of super bugs. Hospitals are breeding grounds for these types of infections. MRSA is a big one you may have heard of. What happens is the pathological bacteria build up a resistance to the medication and it takes larger, stronger doses to them kill them. These bacteria are fast adapters!
- Consume more foods that contain beneficial bacteria. Good sources of probiotics that you can get in your diet without supplementation are things like sauerkraut, kefir (great in smoothies), raw (or unpasteurized) dairy, probiotic yogurt, and kombucha.
- Supplementation of probiotics. There are a ton of companies producing probiotics these days and not all are created equal. LabDoor.com tested 30 of the best sellers and the results can be found here. We personally carry the Standard Process Prosynbiotics, which is a mixture of 4 strains of bacteria and two prebiotics. Prebiotics are an indigestible fiber used to help harbor the proper environment for the growth of beneficial bacteria, creating a symbiotic relationship.
Your immune system needs proper support. What you consume on a daily basis either helps or hurts 80% of your ability to fend off pathogens and cancerous cells. Please choose your diet and supplements wisely!
Dr. Andrew R. Burns