Many of us know probiotics are the superheroes of your gut health and your best defence against harmful gut bugs and invaders. But did you know that as well as being strong in their ability to protect the gut, they also benefit and support healthy immunity?
How the gut and immune system are linked
It may surprise you that the majority of the immune system - around 70-80% - is actually located in the gut.
The gut is the bodies first line of defence against nasty bugs and bacteria entering the body – with probiotics acting as guards to protect the immune cells found in our gut walls from causing inflammation and disease in our cells and organs.
This means that when we don’t have a healthy microbiome (the good bacteria in our gut that protect it from harm), or we are eating foods that inflame the wall of the gut our immune system can be thrown off, leaving it at risk of allowing an infection we could usually fight off to instead take hold.
How can improving gut health support the immune system?
Healthy gut bacteria helps to support healthy digestion, reduce the risk of inflammation from happening in the gut wall, and help us to absorb key nutrients from our foods. As the health of the immune system is directly impacted from the health of the gut wall, one of the best ways we can assist our gut is to support the health of beneficial bacteria.
The first and best way to do this, is to take an extra close look at your diet. If you eat a diet high in plant fibre, low in saturated fats, and avoid too many high sugar and high salt processed foods, you will help to keep beneficial bacteria healthy and also reduce the change of inflammation happening in your gut wall, which can lead to a loss in the protective action of your immune cells.
Should I also take a probiotic?
Specific probiotic strains can be beneficial in maintenance of a healthy immune system. These are Lactobacillus paracasei 8700:2 and Lactobacillus plantarum HEAL 9, which have been proven in clinical trials to:
- Reduce the frequency, severity and duration of colds
- Reduce the number of sick days from colds
- Boost immune system function
Taken daily, especially during cold and flu season, these strains can support both your gut health and immune system.