In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic it’s more important than ever to keep your immune system as healthy as possible. Strengthening your immune system can’t stop you from contracting the virus, but it can help to mitigate your response to it. We know this because this is a virus that hits the elderly and immunocompromised/those with pre-existing conditions much harder than people who are young and healthy.
In a situation that feels like it’s spiraling out of our control, this is one element of it that you can actually take control of and act on right now. Of course, this is in addition to following the guidance from the World Health Organization to reduce your chances of catching and spreading the virus by washing your hands regularly, adhering to your national social distancing guidelines, and avoiding touching your face.
Your Immune System and Gut Microbiota Need to Work Together
In terms of what you can control regarding your health right now, your gut health is right at the top of the list. And guess what’s directly impacted by the health of your gut? Your immune system. A wise guy called Hippocrates told us this about 2300 years ago when he said that “all disease begins in the gut” but it took us roughly another 2980 years to start paying attention. Research has now shown that up to 80% of our immune system is located in the gut and this impacts our entire overall health. So it makes sense that how you feel day to day is directly impacted by the state of your gut and whether it’s working for you or against you.
“All disease begins in the gut.” – Hippocrates
Your gut itself is host to trillions of microbes called your gut microbiome and these microbes play a vital role in how your immune system regulates your wellbeing and responds to infection. When your gut is healthy it is better equipped to respond to pathogens such as the coronavirus and it also helps to prevent overactive immune responses that can damage your vital organs. For example, in the case of coronavirus, an overactive immune response would cause your immune system to start attacking lung cells, causing difficulties breathing and even potentially fatal respiratory issues. Whilst you don’t want an underactive immune system, an overactive immune response can cause just as many problems, so the key is to support and strengthen your immune system rather than “boost” it too much.
The relationship between your gut and your immune system requires the same level of consistent and healthy communication as any good relationship. So when your immune system stops performing optimally it’s often indicative of a breakdown in this communication. Think of your immune system like an army of molecules and cells that protect you from illness by keeping watch for and responding to any foreign threats such as infectious substances.
Research has shown us that the trillions of microbiota in your gut also work alongside your immune system by creating defenses against any infectious agents and developing a tolerance for harmless microbes that are beneficial to your body. The coevolution of this mutualistic relationship is of even more significance when you consider the fact that up to 80% of your immune system cells are found in your gut. So it’s pretty important that these two systems are on the same page.
Microbiome Diversity is Essential
A healthy microbiome contains a diverse range of species that all play an important part in maintaining an optimal immune system. However, this diversity starts to decline with age and this could be why immune responses tend to weaken as you get older. Other key contributors to this lack of diversity (which is usually an imbalance of good vs bad bacteria) are a sub-optimal diet, the overuse of medications such as antibiotics and antacids, chronic stress, and obesity.
When your gut flora (microbiota) becomes unbalanced in this way, it can often lead to an increased risk of leaky gut syndrome, which happens when your gut barrier is compromised and intestinal permeability occurs. For some people, this permeation results in “minor” issues such as bloating, IBS, flatulence, and heartburn, but it can also lead to serious complaints such as chronic inflammation in the joints, skin, bowel, nervous system, and even the brain. And all of this happens because of what’s happening in your gut!
Remember, your gut microbiome is your defense system against any harmful substances that want to enter your body, so when your gut barrier is compromised, these foreign substances are able to pass through and this is how the damage begins. In the case of chronic and autoimmune complaints causing inflammation, this is your immune system overreacting to this threat in order to protect itself. As we noted earlier, an overactive immune system can cause as much damage as an underactive one, and this is at the core of autoimmune disorders such as lupus and ME. In this case, you really can have too much of a good thing.
What You Eat Matters
When your gut microbiome is healthy and has a solid relationship with your immune system, these imbalances are less likely to occur. This is why healing your gut can support your immune system, and it all begins with your diet. A good functioning digestive system will serve as a barrier against viruses, bacteria, and infectious agents, whereas a poor digestive system will deprive your immune system of the nutrition it needs to function optimally and support your overall health. In order for your digestive system to function properly, it needs sufficient enzymes to break down the food you eat and get the nutrients to where your body needs them most.
Your body already produces digestive enzymes on its own, and about 50% of these enzymes are delegated to your digestive system. However, there aren’t always enough enzymes produced to properly break down the processed foods we eat today. And this is a problem – because if your digestive system is deficient in enzymes, it will start to take them from your immune system, causing it to weaken. And when your immune system is too weak to protect your body from outside pathogens, you become ill.
Adding supplements containing key enzymes will help to optimize your digestion and support your immune system by minimizing the stress placed on your digestive system and making sure your gut environment is optimal so it can support the 70-80% of immune cells that live there.
In addition to adding essential supplements to your diet, you should also ensure you eat more high fiber plant-based foods and less processed foods. Studies show the Mediterranean diet, which includes fruit, vegetables, whole grains, seeds, nuts, lean meat/fish, and healthy fats can reduce inflammation and improve the diversity of your gut microbiome. Natural probiotics can also be found in cheese, natural yogurt, fermented vegetables such as kimchi, and yeast-rich drinks such as kombucha. Some fermented foods are definitely an acquired taste, but they’re packed with digestive enzymes, so it’s a taste worth acquiring!
Stock Up on Healthy Food, Not Just Toilet Roll
Taking control of your health by properly implementing and optimizing your diet is just as important as ensuring you have enough toilet roll to see you through the coronavirus crisis. You might feel as though there isn’t much you can do right now to prevent yourself from being at risk, but the little things that can do will make a massive difference to your chances of contracting this virus. Remember: clean up your diet, heal your gut, stay in the house, don’t touch your face, wash your hands, wash your hands, and.. You got it, wash your hands.
The Power of Probiotics
Our Advanced Probiotic will support your digestive system and immune system by helping to develop and maintain the intestinal mucosal lining we spoke about earlier. This is the barrier that’s stopping all of those unwanted viruses and bacteria from getting into your body; when it’s compromised, your immunity also becomes compromised.
Right now, we are offering all Terra Health Essentials readers a 30% discount on our specialized Advanced Probiotic blend using the code: covidprobiotic30 when purchasing. You can also get in touch with us on Facebook to discuss your treatment plan and other options available to you – just send us a message anytime and we’ll get back to you ASAP.