If there’s one area of our health that’s had most of our attention this year, it’s definitely our immune system. From supplements to essential oils, we’ve each sought out different ways to protect and strengthen our immune health, all in an effort to protect ourselves against the COVID-19 virus.

That said, we all know that gut health is associated with better health, and that includes the state of your immune system. In fact, a recent study has highlighted the link between a healthy gut and a stronger immune system.

The Link Between Gut Health and Your Immune System

Previous research has revealed that around 70% of your immune sys­tem is housed in your gut and new research has emphasized the important link between your gut and immune system.

The study, published in the journal Nature, found that a concentration of various types of immune cells in the blood changed based on the different bacterial strains in the gut. For the study, researchers gathered data from cancer patients who had undergone allogeneic stem cell and bone marrow transplants (BMTs), which is a common procedure for patients after they’ve undergone chemotherapy and radiation.

After assessing the gut health of the patients, the researchers noted that a higher microbiota diversity in the gut was linked with a lower risk of death after a BMT.

“This gives us a good start toward understanding the forces that the microbiota exerts on the rebuilding of the immune system,” explains Jonas Schluter, Ph.D., a member of the research team and an assistant professor at NYU Langone Health, in a statement. He also notes that they also plan to apply their data to study the immune system in patients receiving other cancer treatments.

How To Improve Your Gut Health

In addition to improving your immune health, gut health can help to influence your health in a number of other ways (including reducing your risk for hair loss), so with that said, here are 3 easy ways to improve your gut health.

1. Eat a diet rich in plant-based foods

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Photo by Ola Mishchenko on Unsplash

According to a study published in mSystems, people who regularly eat more than 30 different types of plant foods each week had a significantly more diverse microbiome than those eating 10 or fewer different plant foods a week.

Believe it or not, eating 30 different plant-based foods a week is easier than it sounds as it just requires you to adopt a plant-based diet. This would then mean increasing your intake of fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, as well as nuts, and seeds. It also means reducing your intake of processed foods and sugar, as a diet high in sugar and processed foods has been found to disrupt gut bacteria.

2. Enjoy fermented foods

Fermented foods are a natural source of probiotics and this can help to improve gut health, by helping to prevent gut inflammation and other potential intestinal problems.

Delicious fermented foods that you can enjoy include:

  • fermented vegetables
  • kefir
  • kimchi
  • kombucha
  • miso
  • sauerkraut
  • tempeh
casanisa/shutterstock

3. De-stress

We are definitely living in stressful times but it’s important to point out that research has found that chronic stress levels can affect gut bacteria similarly to a poor diet.

That said, some great stress management tips include meditating, deep breathing exercises, and even gardening.

Want to know more?

With various countries across the globe now experiencing their second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, it is now more important than ever for those at higher risk to protect their immune systems. That being said, here are Four Ways To Protect Your Immune System During The Second Wave.

References

Bridgewater, L.C., Zhang, C., Wu, Y. et al. (2017). Gender-based differences in host behavior and gut microbiota composition in response to high fat diet and stress in a mouse model. Sci Rep 7, 10776. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-11069-4
McDonald, D., Hyde, E., Debelius, J. W., Morton, J. T., Gonzalez, A., Ackermann, G., Aksenov, A. A., Behsaz, B., Brennan, C., Chen, Y., DeRight Goldasich, L., Dorrestein, P. C., Dunn, R. R., Fahimipour, A. K., Gaffney, J., Gilbert, J. A., Gogul, G., Green, J. L., Hugenholtz, P., Humphrey, G., … Knight, R. (2018). American Gut: an Open Platform for Citizen Science Microbiome Research. mSystems3(3), e00031-18. https://doi.org/10.1128/mSystems.00031-18
Miclotte, L., & Van de Wiele, T. (2020). Food processing, gut microbiota and the globesity problem. Critical reviews in food science and nutrition60(11), 1769–1782. https://doi.org/10.1080/10408398.2019.1596878
Peled, J. U., Gomes, A., Devlin, S. M., Littmann, E. R., Taur, Y., Sung, A. D., Weber, D., Hashimoto, D., Slingerland, A. E., Slingerland, J. B., Maloy, M., Clurman, A. G., Stein-Thoeringer, C. K., Markey, K. A., Docampo, M. D., Burgos da Silva, M., Khan, N., Gessner, A., Messina, J. A., Romero, K., … van den Brink, M. (2020). Microbiota as Predictor of Mortality in Allogeneic Hematopoietic-Cell Transplantation. The New England journal of medicine382(9), 822–834. https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJMoa1900623
Pie Mulumba

Pie Mulumba

Pie Mulumba is a beauty and wellness writer who has a passion for poetry, equality, natural hair, and skin-care. With a journalism degree from Pearson's Institute of Higher Education, and identifiable by either her large afro or colorful locks, Pie aspires to continuously provide the latest information, be it beauty or wellness, on how one can adopt a healthy lifestyle on a day-to-day basis.

The content in this editorial is for general information only and is not intended to provide medical or other professional advice. For more information on your medical condition and treatment options, speak to your healthcare professional.

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