Inflammation, Digestion and the Immune System

A major part of your immune system is in your gut. This means how you treat your gut is important in protecting yourself from illness, autoimmune conditions and even cancer.

Specialized immune cells and bacteria meet in the gut and these cells hitchhike on other cells and travel through the body to either support or add strain to those body systems. Types of antibodies the body makes, the kinds of infections the body is able to kill, and how the body is able to handle inflammation all take place in the gut. Don’t take for granted how the food you eat can make your break your gut health, and your whole body health. Support your immune system with the foods you eat with these 3 tips.

1. Eat Probiotic Foods

One of the best things you can do for your immune system is to eat fermented foods that have naturally occurring probiotics. Freshly fermented foods have some benefits that probiotic capsules don’t. Probiotic capsules have a wide variety of quality and inferior quality probiotics will not withstand the acidity of the stomach and therefore provide very little live beneficial bacteria to the colon where probiotics are needed. Probiotic capsules also need to be taken consistently in most cases to provide their best benefits. Fermented foods can actually imbed, or seed into the gut where they can continue to reproduce good bacteria making them a very helpful and hospitable host long term. Probiotic capsules are often needed to get the potency of probiotics needed for specific health conditions and specific probiotic strains can be used to target certain conditions. Therefore, the fermented foods should be eaten regularly to support beneficial bacteria in the gut long term and probiotic capsules added as needed for targeted treatment. Overall, consuming any type of probiotics are going to support beneficial bacteria in the body which will help prevent illness and cellular damage.

2. Change with the Seasons

Food sensitivities can wreak havoc on the immune system. The inflammatory response from the body misreading signals and inadequately digesting foods that causes the body to react to certain foods and not others is a constant challenge to the immune system. Food sensitivities are a common trigger for autoimmune conditions which are at the root immune system diseases. One way food sensitivities develop is when the same foods are eaten day in and day out. Historically, cultures relied on growing seasons for the variety of foods eaten at any given time. This means foods would be eaten likely for a few months at a time before different foods became the predominant part of the diet during a different season. With modern agriculture came the transport of food across the world. Particularly in developed countries, it is possible to eat the same foods every day for years. While this may be convenient, it is not hospitable to a healthy gut and can contribute to the immune system going haywire. Changing foods with the seasons can support good gut health and protect your immune system year round. Seasonal guides like this one are readily available if you are not even sure what foods naturally grow in what seasons in your area.

3. Skip Gluten and Grains

Quite simply, grains are not needed for great health and they are actually detrimental to most people. Gluten containing grains (wheat, rye, barley) are particularly problematic. Gluten causes inflammation in the body and contributes to leaky gut by producing excess zonulin. Zonulin breaks down the tight junctions in the gut lining letting undigested food particles escape. This triggers an immune response and inflammation as the body attacks the food particles as foreign invaders. Many people are beginning to understand the problems with gluten and turn to gluten free grains as a substitute. These are not needed and can also cause problems such as blood sugar imbalances, insulin resistance, inflammation from lectins and when overused contribute to food sensitivities. Instead of grains, the body will be much better supported by eating primarily organic vegetables, grass fed/pastured meat and eggs, fruit and quality fat such as avocado, coconut oil, and grass-fed butter or ghee.

If you are experiencing problems with inflammation, digestion, and your immune system, you might want to consider making an appointment with an experienced functional medicine doctor in Overland Park, KS. Contact in2GREAT Integrative Health today.

Dr Corey Priest, DC - Functional medicine practitioner

About the author

Dr. Corey Priest has been practicing functional medicine since 2001. in2GREAT was founded in 2014 by Dr Priest after 13 years of experience with his other practices. Over his career, Dr. Priest has worked with and helped well over 10,000 patients under a functional medicine model.

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