Immune System and Gut Health: What's the Link?
Gut Health: More than Just Digestion
For a long time, we’ve known that a healthy gut supports healthy digestion. However, research shows that gut health may impact our overall health in unexpected ways. According to John Hopkins Medicine, the human gut may play a role in mood, health, and even the way we think.i As research on the subject continues to emerge and evolve, the world is taking a closer look at the link between the immune system and gut health.
How much of your immune system is in your gut? Believe it or not, 70% of your immune system is in your gut!ii With gut health playing such a crucial role in immune function, understanding how to take care of it is important. Read on to learn more about gut health and how it affects your immune system.
What Is the Gut?
When you hear people talk about the gut, you probably think about the digestive tract. The gastrointestinal tract runs from the esophagus to the rectum.i Our guts help us to digest food so that our bodies can get all the nutrients they need.i,iii However, your gut does more than just help you process food. Another important part of the gut is the gut microbiome.
In your digestive tract, there are bacteria and other organisms that we refer to as the “gut microbiome.”iii,iv The word “bacteria” can sound like a bad thing, but in this case it’s not! In fact, a healthy balance of bacteria in your gut can help support immune function.iii,iv Pretty impressive! Below, we’ll take a closer look at immune function specifically, and explore how the immune system and gut health are connected.
The Immune System in Your Gut: Explained
Like we mentioned above, 70% of your immune system is in your gut. This means that more than two-thirds of your body’s immune cells reside in your gut. The tissue where the immune cells live is called the gut-associated lymphoid tissue—or “GALT”—for short.ii What are these immune cells in the gut doing exactly? Each day, these immune cells are hard at work, filtering through external stimuli to help your body produce an effective immune response.ii
If your gut microbiome is out of balance, your immune system may be affected. The immune system consists of two parts: the innate immune system and adaptive immune system.ii Gut microbiota help support heathy function of the innate and adaptive immune systems.v
How to Help Support Your Immune System in Your Gut
You may already be aware of a few ways to help support your immune health, such as washing your hands frequently or keeping your body active. Here are some additional things you can do to support a healthy gut microbiome:vi
- Eat a healthy and balanced diet rich in fruits, veggies, healthy fats, and omega-3 fatty acids
- Include fermented foods in your diet such as kefir, sauerkraut, miso, kimchi, or kombucha, which contain probiotics and are good for gut health
- Add prebiotic foods—foods that support good gut bacteria—to your diet such as onions, garlic, bananas, chicory root, and artichokes. Research has shown that prebiotic foods can help regulate the gut microbiome and offer health benefitsviii
- Get plenty of rest; your gut does different tasks during the day than it does during the night, so having a normal sleep-wake cycle is important
- Complement a healthy diet and lifestyle with Emergen-C Probiotics + Daily Immune Health
How Probiotics Support the Immune System
Emergen-C Probiotics + Daily Immune Health contain two of the top-studied probiotic strains: Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG and Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis. A health-conscious lifestyle complemented with a balanced diet and dietary supplements can support gut microbiome balance.*vii It’s important to speak to your doctor before taking any kind of supplements.
To learn more about gut health, check out our other article, gut-friendly foods you can keep in your kitchen, today!
*This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
i. The Brain-Gut Connection. John Hopkins Medicine. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/the-brain-gut-connection. Accessed 6/15/21.
ii. Allergy and the gastrointestinal system. NCBI. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2515351/. Accessed 6/15/21.
iii. The Microbiome. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/microbiome/. Accessed 6/15/21.
iv. Role of the gut microbiota in nutrition and health. The BMJ. https://www.bmj.com/content/361/bmj.k2179. Accessed 6/15/21.
v. Family Physician Shares Signs of Poor Gut Health. Piedmont Healthcare. https://www.piedmont.org/living-better/signs-of-poor-gut-health. Accessed 6/15/21.
vi. How a Healthy Gut Makes for a Healthier You. Va.gov. https://www.va.gov/WHOLEHEALTH/veteran-handouts/docs/HealthyGut-508Final-9-4-2018.pdf. Accessed 6/15/21.
vii. Should you take probiotics? Harvard Health. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/should-you-take-probiotics. Accessed 6/15/21.
viii. Prebiotics. ISAPP. https://isappscience.org/for-consumers/learn/prebiotics/. Accessed 6/15/21.