Go With Your Gut
Written By Go Vita
THE STRENGTH OF YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM IS LARGELY DEPENDENT ON YOUR GUT HEALTH. THESE TACTICS WILL KEEP YOUR GUT IN TIP-TOP SHAPE.
The gastrointestinal tract – all six metres of it – is the foundation for your total immune system. The many steps in the digestion of carbohydrates, fats, protein, vitamins, water and salts depend on how well the immune cells found in the eight organs of the digestive system (the mouth, oesophagus, stomach, small and large intestines, gallbladder, liver and pancreas) are working. These immune cells are central to optimising hormonal, digestive and metabolic function, as well as to your body’s ability to defend itself against free radicals, bacteria, viruses, parasites and toxic chemicals.
Given the complexity and importance of the gastrointestinal system, it is no surprise that a lot can go wrong with it – and often does. For example, an estimated 35 per cent of Australians experience heartburn at least once a month; other common gut health troubles include diarrhoea, constipation, diverticulitis, leaky gut syndrome, malabsorption syndrome and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Over-the-counter and prescription drugs can irritate and damage the gut, especially the long-term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), antacids and antibiotics, with the latter killing off friendly bacteria in the gut and creating a breeding ground for parasites and yeast. Avoiding refined sugar, refined grains, carbonated drinks and artificial sweeteners, along with reducing or eliminating coffee, salt and alcoholic drinks and taking special supplements can be the answer.
Eat your enzymes Gradually increasing your intake of enzyme-rich raw foods, such as apples, pineapple and celery, will help to support gut health and normalise its function; so will taking digestive enzymes with meals, especially if you are over 40 years of age, because that is when the production of digestive juices by the stomach, liver and pancreas starts to slow down.
Skip processed foods Fructose intolerance and malabsorption is a condition in which the small intestine cannot absorb the sugar in fruit and processed foods, especially commercial fruit juices, resulting in bloating, cramping and flatulence. Processed foods containing trans fats are also linked to gastroesophageal reflex (GERD) and heartburn.
Up your garlic intake Fresh garlic juice can kill various pathogenic microorganisms. Some studies also suggest that eating garlic may lower the risk of colon and stomach cancer, thanks to its ability to neutralise the gastric ulcer-causing Helicobacter pylori bacteria, since gastric ulcers have been identified as a strong risk factor for stomach cancer.
Add shiitake mushrooms Traditional Chinese herbalists claim that these mushrooms protect the immune system by activating qi, or the life force. Modern science confirms that shiitake mushrooms contain lentinan, a string of sugar molecules that stimulate the production of T-cells, macrophages and natural killer (NK) cells.
Go pre and pro Prebiotic foods are high in special types of fibre that support digestive health by feeding the friendly bacteria in the gut, which in turn boosts your immune system. Chicory root, dandelion greens, barley, oats, apples, flaxseed, onions, Jerusalem artichoke, leeks, asparagus and bananas are all good examples of prebiotic foods; or, take a handy supplement like KFibre, a natural, raw blend of soluble and insoluble prebiotic fibres, antioxidants and phytonutrients for gut microbiome and immune support. Kfibre is tasteless and really easy to add in to your existing diet. The living bacteria in fermented probiotic foods (eg. yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut, miso, tempeh and sourdough) enhance immunity and overall gut health. By attaching themselves to the mucous membranes that line the intestines and the reproductive tract, the beneficial bacteria in probiotic foods crowd out germs and toxins that would otherwise cause disease.
Take herbs for a healthy gut Consider calming and soothing herbs such as slippery elm, marshmallow, turmeric, chamomile, globe artichoke and aloe vera to help soothe irritated or inflamed tissues, and support digestive function. Gentle gut care powders containing herbs, nutrients and prebiotics taken daily, assist healthy gastrointestinal and immune system function.
Consider stirring a couple of tablespoons raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar into a cup of lukewarm water and consuming on a regular basis before meals to help relieve bloating and mild indigestion, this can also promote healthy bowel movements.
Aloe vera juice is a traditional remedy for a range of gastrointestinal disorders, such as constipation and indigestion, aloe vera supports the body’s own natural cleansing and detoxification processes. Taking aloe vera juice daily helps to promote a healthy digestive system by encouraging a balance of healthy intestinal flora and assisting with the absorption of nutrients.
Try ginger or peppermint tea to help calm and soothe digestive system, especially after overeating!